County Roscommon information
County Roscommon is in West Ireland. The name Roscommon is derived from Coman mac Faelchon who built a monastery there in the 5th century. The woods near the monastery became known as Saint Coman's Wood (Ros Comáin). This was later anglicised to Roscommon. The town is the location of a notable archaeological find in 1945 when a lunula, a gold necklace, and two discs were discovered. Both items are dated to the period 2,300 and 1,800 BC.
Roscommon is fairly short on attractions. It has no real wilderness but most of its farmland is poor. The most notable feature is the river Shannon and its lakes which stetch along the eastern border of the county. The population is sparse and the county has had a long history of decline and emigration along with most of the west of Ireland.
Image: County Roscommon
Roscommon is one of the safest counties in Ireland. Be wary of country roads, as poor maintenance and reckless drivers can prove to be dangers for the uninitiated. Exercise care on corners with low visibility and keep an eye out for potholes.
Below you will find a list of towns within County Roscommon. If a Further information link is available, please click on it to find detailed information including accommodation, restaurants, bars, pubs, shops and more...
What to see / Things to do
Lough Key - In the 800-acre park, which surrounds Lough key, ring forts, are perhaps the oldest evidence of habitation. Five ring forts are contained within the park itself and many more can be seen in adjacent fields and woods.
Horse Racing - a horse racing course is situated approximately 1.6 km (1 mi) from the town centre, the track itself is an oblong right-handed track 2 km (1.25 mi) in length, and the course has stabling for up to 95 horses.
Mote Park - approximately 1.6 km (1 mi) from the town centre is a woodland area covering several miles and is popular with walkers. The impressive ruins of Roscommon castle are located on a hillside just outside the town, the castle is quadrangular in shape, it had four corner D-shaped towers, three storey’s high, and twin towers at its entrance gateway, one of which still retains its immensely sturdy vaulted roof. The entire castle was enclosed by a lofty curtain wall. It was built in 1269 by Robert de Ufford, Justiciar of Ireland, on lands he had seized from the Augustinian Priory. The castle had a most chequered history. It was besieged by Connacht King Aodh O’Connor in 1272. Eight years later it was again in the hands of an English garrison, and fully repaired. By 1340 the O’Connor’s regained possession of it, and, except for a few brief intermissions, they held it for two centuries until 1569, when Sir Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy seized it. It was granted to Sir Nicholas Malbie, Elizabethan Governor of Connaught, in 1578. Two years later the interior was remodeled and large mullioned windows were inserted in the towers and curtain walls.
Again, in 1641 the Parliamentarian faction gained it until Confederate Catholics under Preston captured it in 1645. It remained in Irish hands until 1652 when it was partially blown up by Cromwellian "Ironsides" under Commissary Reynolds, who had all the fortifications dismantled. It was finally burned down in 1690, and, from the closing years of the 17th century, it gradually fell into decay. A symmetrical moat some distance from the curtain walls surrounded the entire castle and safeguarded it. It s now a national monument. In the town's main street is the prominent and beautifully renovated Bank of Ireland known also as Harrison Hall. Once a 17th century sessions house, it was remodeled in 1762 by Sir William Morrison and converted into a court house and market house. It is built in the classical architectural style with a cupola. It became a catholic church in 1863. After 1903 it became a recreational hall to commemorate Dr John Harrison (who was a physician in Roscommon town’s workhouse, during the famine of the 1840’s) it was used as a dance hall, cinema and theatre before it was sold to the Bank of Ireland in 1972.
Old Gaol - is the second most prominent building in the town and faces the back of the Bank of Ireland now houses a modern shopping centre, the facade is all that remains of the original structure. The original building is thought to have been designed by Richard Cassells in 1736. The gaol had the distinction of having a hang woman ‘Lady Betty’, a criminal who had her sentence withdrawn on the provision that she perform the unpaid task of hang woman. In 1822 it was taken over for use as a lunatic asylum. In 1833 it became a ‘Lazaretto’ – a place where outcasts who suffered from small pox were confined. Sometime after 1840 the building was converted to residential and commercial use. Next to Harrison hall in the town square is a small Presbyterian Church built in 1863, the building now houses the County Museum and the Tourism office. The building is of cut limestone with a large recessed door, circular headed windows and fenestration on the wheel window over the door is in the form of the ‘Star of David’ to commemorate its Welsh Builders. The building was renovated in 1991 and now contains many exhibits and artifacts illustrating and interpreting the history of Roscommon. Among the artifacts on display are a 9th century grave slab from St Comans Abbey and a Sheela na Gig from Rahara church.