Hi everyone, Aidan here. Today I want to with you explore County Roscommon, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. Here you'll find beautiful untouched landscapes and crystalline lakes. The story of Ireland, its history and mythology, unfurls from its center in Roscommon. These are the five best places to visit in County Roscommon, the heart of Ireland.
1. Rathcroghan Visitor Centre
Rathcroghan is a truly special place. The site is rich with myths and history and gives a detailed and wide-ranging look at Ireland's past. The site was the home and seat of power of Connacht's legendary Warrior Queen Medb (anglicized as Maeve). Located in Connacht's midlands, Rathcroghan is one of six Royal Sites of Ireland. The site stretches over six square kilometres (2.4 square miles) and has over 240 archaeological sites, sixty of which are protected national monuments.
What makes Rathcroghan so special to visit is that you get to delve into over 5,500 years of history. From prehistoric burial mounds from the Bronze and Iron Age, ringforts (settlement sites) from the early medieval period, standing stones, stone forts, and an Iron Age ritual sanctuary. If you're brave enough, you can also visit Oweynagat (Cave of the Cats), which was described by Christian scribes as a “Gate to Hell” and entrance to the Otherworld. You can also learn about Samhain, the Celtic pagan festival that we now call Halloween. This time was celebrated as it was when the Celtic people believed that burial mounds and portals to the Otherworld were opened.
2. Strokestown House, Park and Gardens
Visitors are in for a mixture of history and beautiful landscapes when visiting Strokestown House, Park and Gardens. On the grounds is the National Famine Museum, which tells the story of one of the most tragic chapters of Irish history. Visitors can learn about the Irish Famine of the 1840s that devastated the island of Ireland, causing over two million people to either die or emigrate. The house itself was owned by Major Denis Mahon, a landlord who was assassinated during the time of the Famine. Touring the house gives an insight into the vast disparity between landowners and impoverished tenants in the mid-1800s.
The park and gardens feature the restored croquet lawn and summer house, pleasure garden and fruit and vegetable garden. You can also discover exotic plant specimens that were collected from all over the world by one of the family members that own the house, Henry Pakenham. There is also a woodland area to explore, which includes majestic Beech and Oak trees planted over 300 years ago by Thomas Mahon.
3. Shannon River Adventure
The Shannon River Adventure centre is a must for all nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. The centre is situated on the border of counties Leitrim and Roscommon, beside both Lough Bofin and the River Shannon. The fantastic natural landscape is perfect for the many activities offered by the centre.
Visitors can choose from kayaking, raft building, mud slide, pier jumping, kayak trips, climbing wall, archery, fun assault course and more. If you're looking to do something different on your trip, having a Shannon River Adventure is the perfect way to spend a day.
4. Derryglad Folk and Heritage Museum
The Derryglad Folk and Heritage Museum is the hidden gem of the heartlands. Visitors get the unique chance to learn what rural life in Ireland was like back in the nineteenth century. The museum has a collection of more than seven and a half thousand objects, from butter churns to farm machinery.There are also guided tours of replica village shops, a school room and kitchen. The experience is a true step back in time and an immersive way to learn about the old traditions and way of life. If you're visiting Roscommon, you definitely shouldn't pass up the opportunity to explore such a treasure trove of Irish heritage.
5. Roscommon Castle
No visit to Roscommon would be complete without seeing the Roscommon Castle. It was ne of the most important royal castles in Ireland during the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The Castle was commenced by the British Crown in 1269 and was originally occupied by Robert de Ufford, Lord Justice of Ireland. Hugh O'Connor, King of Connacht, carried out a siege upon the castle and claimed it for himself.
The castle was subsequently passed between the British and the Irish many times over until its ruin in the seventeenth century. Although the castle is unfortunately now in ruins, it is still a sight to behold. The site also features a wildlife conservation area, which is a habitat of unique flora and fauna, and the 14 acre Loughnaneane Park and Playground.
A visit to Roscommon is truly magical. Not only can you immerse yourself in the culture and history of Ireland, you are surrounded by picturesque lakes and lush green plains. The Heartlands of Ireland are vibrant and alive, and not to be missed!