Located in west-central Ireland, County Roscommon is an elongated county bordering seven other counties. These counties are Longford, Sligo, Leitrim, Galway, Westmeath and Offaly.
The area is known for great farming and wonderful farming, but also packed with great and wonderful history and a wide range of activities.
After researching and experiencing as much as possible, we’ve put together this list of the 10 best things to do in Roscommon. Everything on the list has been tried and tested by ourselves.
See also: Things to do with children in Ireland in the west
The 10 best things to do in Roscommon
If you’re looking for fun and interesting things to do in Roscommon, here are a few options.
1. Visit the ruins of Roscommon Castle
Just minutes from the center of Roscommon Town are the ruins of Roscommon Castle.
The castle that now lies in ruins is a 13th-century Norman castle that once belonged to Hugh O’Connor, King of Connaught. It has a square plan with rounded bastions at the corners and a two-towered entrance gate.
The attraction is free to visit and open to visitors all year round. The upper parts of the bastions and the other staircases are not accessible, but otherwise you can move freely inside.
A park area with a lake, hiking trails and children’s playground is also located in this one area.
See also: Walks in Ireland’s Midwest
2. Take a look at Strokestown House and the Hunger Museum
This 300 year old mansion is a listed building and is steeped in history. The house and grounds are now in the hands of the Irish Heritage Trust.
The house is also home to Ireland’s National Famine Museum and after a huge government grant they have just completed the refurbishment of the museum and visitor center making the experience even better and allowing this great piece of history to be displayed for many years to come.
As well as a woodland walk, tours of the house and museum are available in high season, and Strokestown has its own walled gardens.
The hunger walk also begins on the premises. This massive 165km walk honors the 1490 men, women and children who made the journey during the Irish Famine of 1847. The trail has been laid out in sections, many of which have chosen to complete over a seven day period. The tracks are known to be very moderate.
3. Take the kids to Glendeer Pet Farm
Glendeer Pet Farm is a children’s petting zoo in the north end of County Roscommon, very close to the Westmeath and Galway borders.
The farm initially meanders through a selection of enclosures with very friendly animals. The first section has goats, chickens, deer, emus, ducks, monkeys and even a bearded dragon. As you move through the farm to a second section, you will come to a barn area where all the local and native pigs live.
In the next section of the farm you will find donkeys. This area is also home to alpacas, horses, cows and the Belted Galloway (a breed of Scottish cattle that has adapted to life on the poor and windswept moorlands) – the wallaby, a native Australian animal, can be found here.
The last area of the farm has meerkats and pheasants with a selection of wild birds.
The farm also has many play areas with indoor and outdoor slides, swings, obstacle courses and a whole range of children’s play equipment. Other additions include a fairy tale trail through the woods and an old restored 1850’s cottage with original furnishings and fittings.
See also: Waterfalls in North West Ireland
4. Visit Lough Key Forest Park
Lough Key is a 300 acre park, forest and lake in the heart of County Roscommon.
The park has many, many things to do including boat rides, SUP, tours of the grounds, tree top walk, zip tree adventures, children’s playground as well as many hiking trails and even a cafe all within sight.
The most notable attraction is the 16th-century McDermott Castle, situated on an island in the middle of the Lough itself.
The castle has its own romantic little history.
“A local legend tells the story of a girl named Una, daughter of the McDermott chief, who fell in love with a lower-class boy.
Una’s father refused to let her leave the island, hoping it would put off the budding relationship.
Unbeknownst to her father, Una’s friend began swimming across Lough Key to reach the castle. During one of these crossings, tragedy struck and the boy drowned.
It is said that Una died of grief and that since then she and her partner have been buried under two intertwined trees on the island.”
5. A tour of the mines of Arigna
Arigna Mines is a top Roscommon attraction, a mine with a long mining history that was actively used as a coal mine from the 1700’s to the early 1990’s.
The mine was reopened as a visitor attraction back in 2003, driven by a citizens’ initiative. The mining experience at Arigna documents the country’s first and last coal mines. The tours are taken with former miners so you always know the knowledge is the best there is.
The mine is also the start of the Miners Way Walk, a 118-kilometer circular walk that begins and ends in the village of Arigna.
6. Check out the Elphin Windmill
Elphin Windmill opened as a tourist attraction in 1996 and is the only fully restored windmill in the west of Ireland.
Originally used to grind corn and some other grains, this mill now houses a visitor center that shows how the windmill worked and also has a demonstration.
There is a newly created hiking trail next to the windmill.
7. Take a look around Boyle Abbey
Boyle Abbey is a Cistercian monastery founded by monks from Mellifont Abbey as early as the 12th century. It was one of the most powerful of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland and one of the highest in Connacht Provence.
The Abbey has in recent years restored the gatehouse and the entire Abbey is open as a visitor attraction for anyone to take a look at this interesting piece of Irish history.
8. Lose yourself in Mote Park
Mote Park is a wooded park area north of the town of Roscommon.
The park has many hiking trails, all of which intertwine, with the largest walk being an 11km walk that covers the entire park area. The trails are well developed and maintained and accessible to all, parking is available at various points in the park and at the beginning of some trails.
Be sure to check out areas like the Bluebell Trail, where the forest floor is covered in the vibrant color of bluebells. There is also a fairy trail for children on this side with fun fairy houses, all made by locals.
9. Hike to Slieve Bawn Wind Farm
Slieve Bawn is a wind farm in the Roscommon Hills. In total, Slieve Bawn has 20 wind turbines and a substation producing electricity for homes, schools, hospitals and many other businesses in Ireland.
The entire site of Slieve Bawn has a total of 6 walking trails, all of varying distances and linked together, giving you plenty of opportunities to get out and see something. When you reach the summit you will be at the third highest point in County Roscommon.
Heritage areas along the walk include a mass rock, church ruins, a holy cross, as well as activity areas such as scattered fitness equipment for you to enjoy and a children’s playground.
10. Take a stroll through Castlerea Demense
Enter the town of Castlerea via the plaza and you will find the magnificent Castlerea Demense site, which is also part of the major Suck Valley Way hiking trail.
The Demense is a very well maintained trail along the famous Suck Valley River that meanders through this wooded setting.
On the path through the Demense lies a fairy garden, a children’s music area and at the northern end of the walk the local swimming pool and children’s play area are extremely impressive and very well maintained.
Another area of Demense is a field, a path that goes through the dense forest and takes you again on an amazing and peaceful journey along the river.
See also: Top things to do in Ireland
Accommodation in Roscommon
While checking off your list of things to do in Roscommon, you need to find good accommodation. County Roscommon has three main hotels scattered across the county.
- The Hodson Bay: This is at the north end of Roscommon, closer to the capital of Westmeath, Athlone. A first class 4 star hotel and spa conveniently located just off the main Dublin to Galway motorway.
- The Abbey Hotel: Perfectly located in the center of the town of Roscommon, this 4* hotel. Great access to all amenities including local train links to Dublin and a variety of city center restaurants and shops.
- Kilronan Approxstyle: Possibly Roscommon’s flagship hotel, this restored country house with a 4 star rating and set in 100 acres is a perfect place to relax and unwind. Boasting one of the premier spa and leisure complexes in the west of Ireland. Kilronan is also known for its wonderful dining experiences with award winning cuisine.