Roscommon Tourism have just launched a new video entitled ‘Explore Roscommon’ which lifts the lid on what’s available for visitors to the county, often flies beneath the tourist radar but has a surprising amount on offer for visitors of all ages and stages of life at refreshingly competitive prices. The video builds on the recent campaign aimed at encouraging tourists to look at Roscommon through a different lens.
‘Explore Roscommon’ takes a whirlwind tour around the county through the eyes of a family, a younger couple and a mature couple. It opens in Castlerea Railway Museum, home to a vast collection of rail memorabilia celebrating the history of railway in Ireland. Hell’s Kitchen Bar next door (sadly now closed) was once part of the museum housing a full-scale train within the pub.
Despite being a landlocked county, Roscommon has strong connections with water – the River Shannon forms the eastern border and it’s also home to dozens of lakes, including some of Ireland’s biggest. As a result, there are plenty of options for water-based fun for age groups. Baysports, Ireland’s largest inflatable park near Athlone is wet and wild for younger visitors while more sedate boating on Lough Key or cruising the Shannon are options for all the family. Lough Key Forest Park on the former Rockingham Estate is a true visitor destination with all year round activities including the enthralling Boda Borg, ziplining, biking and accommodation too. Horse riding is available at several centres dotted throughout the county.
Sport is accessible in Roscommon too with modest golf fees at Roscommon Golf Club attracting many city golfers. The 18 hole parkland course is set in a mature landscape reflecting its 100 year history. Recently redesigned by Ken Kearney it’s a formidable par 72 with a challenging thirteenth hole featuring water from tee to green.
A rich tapestry of historical landmarks spills across the landscape with castles and churches competing for attention with the ancient pre-Christian royal site of Cruachán Ai and Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in Tulsk. It’s a journey back to a time before the pyramids, to the world of Queen Medb and the epic tale of the Táin Bó Cuailnge. The recently opened National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House presents local and national famine history in a new light and is the starting point for the 165km National Famine Way, going all the way to EPIC in Dublin along the Royal Canal Greenway. Ireland’s oldest working windmill at Elphin is a beautifully restored rare example of Irish industrial architectural heritage. It’s a lovely traditional contrast to the all too familiar modern versions.
Fine dining is well represented within the county with the gorgeous and historic Douglas Hyde Restaurant at Kilronan Castle leading the charge. At the equally beautiful Clonalis House near Castlerea, visitors eat off the historic family silver. Nearby the Old Stone House has put Ballinlough on the gastronomic map serving outstanding food. The county is scattered with charming cafes promising home cooking and excellent food provenance.
Traditional shops and pubs with the owner’s name over the door are par for the course in Roscommon and the welcome is truly genuine. There really is more to Roscommon than meets the eye. It’s only 90 minutes from either coast and rewards exploring.