It’s Springtime in the west, and the weather is definitely warming up as we get ready for a busy summer of adventures.
This month, our county focus is on Roscommon, birthplace of Douglas Hyde who served as the first president of Ireland, home to the Rossies, Percy French, Chris O’Dowd and his hit TV show Mooneboy, as well as historical and archaeological places of interest such as Rathcroghan in the medieval village of Tulsk the ancient capital of the kingdom of Connacht, Boyle Abbey an impressive and well preserved Cistercian Monastery, Clonalis House in Castlerea home of the O’Connor family direct descendants of the last High Kings of Ireland who were also the traditional kings of Connacht. In Roscommon there is a wealth of mythology, archaeology, history and literature just waiting for you to discover.
With a plethora of walking trails, fishing, golf, horse riding, hunting, racing, lake lands activities and stunning heritage sites, we give you our Top Ten Things To Do in Roscommon as nominated by you.
Top Ten Things To Do in Roscommon
- Walk This Way
One of the most popular routes in Roscommon, The Miners Way, is a unique heritage trail following many of the paths used by miners going to work in the Arigna Mines, where mining was carried out for over 400 years. Perfect for a weekend of walking, the way-marked route is well designed and signposted and includes Sliabh an Iarainn Way, the Leitrim Way, Glenfarne and Lurganboy. The Miners Way and Historical Trail Map is available from Una Bhan Tourism in Boyle.
More info at IrishTrails
- History and heritage meet at The Arigna Mining Experience
Developed to preserve the heritage of Arigna Valley, the visitor centre links past, present and future. This Energy Centre provides visitors with a fascinating insight into what coal mining life was like in the Arigna Valley, since its beginning in the 1700’s until closure in 1990. Take the underground tour and see what life was really like for the miners. More info at arignaminingexperience.ie
- Family Days at Lough Key Forest Park
An 800 hectare park originally founded in the 19th century on the southern shore of Lough Key, today the Forest Park is home to numerous adventure offerings, tranquil walking trails and historical and archaeological points of interest.
Zipit swung into action at Lough Key Forest Park in 2011. With over 1.5km of activities, including 900m of ziplines, Zipit Lough Key provides an exhilarating and challenging outdoor activity. Find out more at www.zipit.ie
- Electric Bike Trails
Hire a bike for a fun, traffic free cycle through the Forest Park 7-8 km, or head for the hills on an electric bike and explore the high-ways and by-ways of the beautiful countryside. More info at electricbiketrails.com
- Lough Key Boats
Discover the lakelands of Roscommon on a boat trip on Lough Key. A tranquil trip featuring historical spots and on board entertainment. Book in at loughkeyboats.com
- Boda Borg
A Swedish concept unique to Ireland, Boda Borg is the perfect team building exercise where guests are transported into a real-world gaming environment. More at loughkey.ie
- Woodland Segway
Discover Lough Key on the personal transporter – guided tours, glides and group activities are available. woodlandsegway.com
4. Make A Splash on Hodson Bay
Hodson Bay is home to Bay Sports, a fun-filled water park with adventures and great escapes on the shores, water and island of Lough Ree. With over 20,000 visitors in 2015, Bay Sports features an inflatable island with its own jungle towers, trampolines, slides, and obstacle courses. More at Baysports.ie
- Get the latest low-down
If you arrive in to Roscommon and still haven’t made your mind up about what to do, call in to the good folks at Una Bhan Tourism situated on the grounds of magnificently restored Georgian mansion King House in Boyle. Una Bhan Tourism offer a one-stop shop for all your holiday needs, from accommodation to special offers, the latest updates on news and events, walking trails and tours, they are a fountain of local knowledge. More info at unabhan.ie
- Discover the beauty of Strokestown Park House
This Georgian Palladian mansion with its original furnishings and fabrics is a must on any visit to Roscommon. The House was the family home of the Pakenham Mahon family and is built on the site of the 16th century castle, home of The O Conor Roe Gaelic Chieftains. The six acre walled pleasure gardens have been restored to their original splendour and give an insight into horticultural design and architecture from the 1740’s to the present day. Check out their Plant Fair on May 22nd and the Irish Famine Summer School from 14th – 19th June 2016. irishfaminesummerschool.com and strokestownpark.ie
- Get thee to a festival
Boyle Arts Festival
Now a ten-day event, Boyle Arts Festival focuses on intimate cultural events in unusual and architecturally interesting buildings and spaces. Expect a programme full of visual art, theatre, comedy, music and family friendly events. More at boylearts.com
Other festival and events:
- The O’Carolan Festival of Harp and and Traditional Music, August Bank Holiday weekend ocarolanharpfestival.ie
- Roscommon Lamb Festival where farming, food and craftwork are celebrated, Apr 27th to May 2nd roscommonlambfestival.com
- Ballaghaderreen Lake & Legends Summer Festival (July),
- The Secret Garden Festival Ballaghaderreen for a week-end of music and culture (August)
- Strokestown International Poetry Festival, Fri 29th April – May 1st strokestownpoetry.org
- The Loughlynn Music Festival on the August Bank Holiday weekend
- The Rose Festival in Castlerea
- The Roscommon Drama Festival
- A Taste of Roscommon
If you are culinary inclined Roscommon offers a good range of eateries and farmers markets to discover. Highly recommend hotspots include Comfy’s Café, Drumanilra Farm Kitchen, Bombay Palace and Benny’s Deli, Tain Cafe at Rathcroghan Visitor Centre and Ardcarne Garden Cafe .
- Boyle Farmers Market, Saturdays 10 – 2pm, King House, Boyle
- Ballaghaderreen Farmers Market, Saturdays 10 – 2pm, The Shambles, Charlestown Road, Ballaghaderreen
- Roscommon Farmers Market, Fridays 10 – 2pm, The Square, Roscommon Town
- Strokestown Farmers Market, every Friday 10am to 3 pm
- Visit a Farm
Agriculture plays a big part in the story of Roscommon. Some of the counties farms are open to the public, including the family friendly Tullyboy Farm, and Knockvicar Garden which hosts training events and workshops. Tullyboy Farm Knockvicar Garden
- Become a culture vulture
Roscommon is the birth place of many a cultural icon, from actor Chris O’Dowd to songwriter Percy French, fashion designer Una Burke, to RTE 2FM DJ Ruth Scott. Roscommon Arts Centre is hub of cultural events throughout the year and well worth checking out their programme of events. roscommonartscentre.ie/