Here are some of the best things to do on your next visit with the Rossies.
Chart the history of coal mining in Roscommon’s northern hills at the Arigna Mining Experience. Covering 400 years of mining history, until the last mine closed in 1990, immerse yourself in the difficult and dangerous life underground. Discover a part of Irish history that you may not know about, and get an insight into the lives of the brave locals who once worked these mines.
With 350 hectares of gorgeous woodland, a lake, 32 islands and tree canopy trails to explore, Lough Key Forest and Activity Park is a natural amusement park that’s packed with things to do. With Zipit Forest Adventures, you can fly through the trees on ziplines, ride a BMX on a treetop bridge or swing through the forest like Tarzan. Other local activities and amenities include boat voyages, Segway tours through the forest, biking and walking routes, an adventure play kingdom for the kids and a designated campsite.
Dating back to the 12th century, the imposing Boyle Abbey has endured many sieges and occupations over the years but its ruins remain a well-preserved example of Cistercian architecture. Look up so you don’t miss the original stone carvings that survived its time as an English garrison base. You can’t miss the Abbey in the centre of Boyle and it’s open from Easter to October.
An impressive Georgian house in Boyle, King House has been a home, a military barracks, a recruiting depot and a merchant’s store over the years. Now restored to its former glory, a tour of the “big house” includes a number of exhibitions and plenty of immersive experiences to bring its history to life. Guided and self-guided tours are available and take around an hour – just don’t forget to check out the infamous jail cells.
Yet another Georgian house that’s been lovingly restored, visitors to Strokestown House can take a guided tour, stay overnight, enjoy a delicious meal at its restaurant or walk through its incredible gardens. The home of the first landlord to be assassinated during the Great Famine, it also has a National Famine Museum on its grounds. Get a deeper understanding of Irish life during this desperate time in these exhibitions that use original documents and images from the estate.
The home of the legendary Queen Medb, Rathcrogan is a special place that has an incredible 240 archaeological sites and 60 protected national monuments in its surroundings. Known as the Sacred Capital of Connacht, its surviving structures include the mysterious Oweynagat (Cave of the Cats), known as Ireland’s “Gate to Hell”. The exhibitions at the Rathcrogan Visitor Centre uncover its history, its place in Irish mythology, and its cultural impact on Ireland and the wider world.
You might be surprised to find a delightful 18th century windmill in Roscommon, but Elphin Windmill was originally used to grind wheat and barley before falling into disrepair in the early 19th century. The local community restored in it the 90s and it’s now a working windmill with a visitor centre that explains how the windmill works. It’s also an obvious spot for an Instagram pic if you’re in the area.
Hit the water for a day of activity on the Shannon with Shannon River Adventure. Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, you can try kayaking, canoeing or pier jumping. If that’s not challenging enough, you can even build your own raft. If you prefer dry land or are looking to keep the fun going, there is also a mudslide, archery and a climbing wall to try.
Take a deep dive into the past at the award-winning Derryglad Folk and Heritage Museum in Curraghboy, which houses a unique 35-year collection of over 6,000 items. It features everything from farming tools to early electrical equipment to household items that would have been in every home in days gone by. Younger visitors might be baffled by some items but it’s a fascinating look at the way that Irish life has changed over the generations.
This imposing 13th century Roscommon Castle was once one of the most important royal castles in Ireland and it’s still an impressive sight. It changed hands multiple times between warring Irish and English forces before Cromwellian troops destroyed its fortifications in 1652 and a fire in 1690 saw it fall into ruin. If you’re exploring the castle, you’ll notice its unusual symmetrical design and other surviving features like its cross-shaped arrow loops.
The spectacular Suck Valley Way is a 105km loop walk that forms part of the famous 500km Breifne Beara Way, which immortalises the flight of Donal Cam O’Sullivan-Beare and his followers from Cork to Leitrim. This walk goes through farmland, along riverbanks, down sleepy side roads and through woodland.
Discover ruined castles, abandoned churches and rare Gaelic relics like the ancient La Tène Stone at Castlestrange Demense along the way. There are also a number of shorter loops to choose from if you don’t want to commit to the five days it takes to complete the entire way.
Roscommon can undoubtedly claim to be one of Ireland’s most interesting counties so the only question remaining is what will you do when you get there? Have a look at our Roscommon destination page and get insider tips and expert information to help with planning your holiday.
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