County Roscommon

County Roscommon

County Roscommon is an inland county in the province of Connacht. 

 The economy of the county is agriculture, primarily cattle.  Its many market towns include Boyle, Strokestown, Castlerea, Elphin, and the largest, the county capital, Roscommon town. 

 Roscommon is the Anglicized form of Ros Comain, “the wood of Coman,” referring to the site of the monastery of the early saint, Coman.  Enclosed on the south, west, and north by counties Galway, Mayo and Sligo, County Roscommon forms an extensive, low, and rather flat plateau, broken at its northern end by the Curlew Mountains that rise to 863 feet.  Its eastern border is Lough Ree, one of the River Shannon’s largest lakes.

The plains of Roscommon were the heart of ancient Ireland.  Here lies Rathcroghan , where the legendary Queen Maeve lived with her consort Ailill and from where she launched her cattle raid on Cooley in County Louth, as told in the great Irish epic Tain Bo Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley). 

The nearby Carnfree was the inauguration place of the ancient kings of Connacht, including Ireland’s last high king, Rory O’Connor family heirlooms. 

The Normans built significant castles at Rinndoon on Lough Ree, Ballintober, and Roscommon town.  The county’s finest ecclesiastical monument is the great Cistercian abbey in Boyle, built between 1161 and 1220.  The abbey lies beside a small river, which drains into Lough Key, one of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes.  Roscommon was badly affected by the Famine of the 1840s, and a Famine Museum in Stokestown dramatically tells the story of the county’s plight. 

Distinguished natives of Roscommon include Sir William Wilde, great polymath and father of Oscar; Dr. Douglas Hyde, poet and songwriter.  Kilronan is the burial place of Turloch Carolan (1670 – 1738), blind harpist and reputed composer of the melody to which “The Star-Spangled Banner” is sung.

Any Ireland tours should take in Roscommon……