Roscommon (Ros Comáin, "Saint Coman's wood") is the county town of County Roscommon in northwest Ireland. It's in a lowland area west of Lough Ree and has a castle and other antiquities. In 2016 it had a population of 5876.
The TIC is Visit Roscommon in The Square, open M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:00.
Get in Edit
By train Edit
Trains from Dublin Heuston take just under 2 hours to Roscommon. In the morning you usually take the train for Galway and change at Athlone. Later there are three direct trains via Portarlington, Tullamore, Clara and Athlone, which continue from Roscommon to Castlerea, Ballyhaunis, Claremorris (for Knock), Manulla Junction (for Ballina), Castlebar and Westport.
By bus Edit
There is no direct bus from Dublin, travel via Athlone. Bus Éireann 440 runs four times a day from Athlone, taking 30 min to Roscommon, and continues to Castlerea, Knock Airport, Castlebar and Westport. The bus stops in Roscommon are the hospital 500 m east of town centre, and the Mart Road.
Bus 433 runs between Roscommon and Galway, taking 90 min. There are 6 M-F, 3 Sa and two on Sunday.
Local Link Bus 570 makes 3 runs daily from Boyle via Elphin, Tulsk and Strokestown to Roscommon.
By car Edit
From Dublin follow M4, which becomes M6. Just past Athlone, take exit 12 onto N61 north.
Get around Edit
You can easily walk round town but you need wheels for outlying sights such as Rathcroghan.
There's a taxi rank in the main square.
In town Edit
- Roscommon town centre stands on the former highway north to Tulsk and Boyle, now bypassed to the east by N63. The best of it is "The Square" where the street divides around Harrison Hall to reunite in front of the facade of the Old Gaol.
- The Old Gaol in The Square is now a modern shopping centre, and the facade is all that remains of the 18th century original. In the 1790s this had a female executioner, Elizabeth Sugrue or "Lady Betty". Her life and deeds are embellished by folklore, but Sir William Wilde (Oscar's father) collected the tale not long after her reign. She supposedly murdered a man not recognising him as her long-lost son, and was about to be hanged for this with 25 other offenders but the hangman was ill. She volunteered to replace him and her career was launched, as were the 25 other wretches. In 1822 the gaol became a lunatic asylum and in 1833 a Lazaretto, a quarantine confinement for those with dangerous diseases such as smallpox. Sometime after 1840 the building was converted to residential and commercial use.
- Roscommon County Museum, The Square, ☏ . M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 10:00-14:00. The Museum and TIC are in a former Presbyterian Church built in 1863, a limestone building with a Star of David in the window over the door. Exhibits include a 9th century grave slab from St Comans Abbey, a dugout canoe, and a Sheela na Gig from Rahara church. Free.
- Harrison Hall in the centre of The Square was the 18th century court house. It's variously been a market hall, RC church, dance hall, cinema and theatre and since 1972 a bank. In the 20th century it was named for Dr John Harrison, who tended to 1840s famine victims in the town workhouse. You can look at the interior during bank opening hours.
- Roscommon Castle, Castle Street. 24 hours. Substantial ruin of a castle built in 1269 by Robert de Ufford, Justiciar of Ireland, on lands seized from the Augustinian Priory. (No point them complaining, the "Justiciar" was both the chief governor and the chief judge, with no "separation of powers"). Although besieged and assaulted several times, it remained largely intact until 1652 when Cromwell set about demolishing all such troublesome strongholds. It was then blown up and the fortifications dismantled, then just for good measure the remains burned down in 1690. Free.
- Roscommon County Library at the corner of Abbey St was built as an infirmary in 1783. This closed in 1941 and in 1989 it was re-fitted as the library, which is open Tu Th 13:00-20:00, W F Sa 10:00-13:00, 14:00-17:00.
- 1 Roscommon Friary, Circular Rd. 24 hours. Ruins of a Dominican Friary founded in 1253 on the site of a 12th C Augustinian priory destroyed by the Normans. Felim McHugh O'Connor, King of Connacht, was buried here in 1265; the effigy in the north chancel (in very Anglo-Norman regal get-up) is either him or a successor, while the fellows on the tomb front are 15th C mercenaries. The friary was suppressed at the Reformation and the stone of its tower and cloister removed. Free.
- 2 Sacred Heart Church, Abbey St. Impressive Catholic church in neo-Gothic completed in 1903, with the tower added in 1916. It has a sunken grotto, painted ceiling and mosaic floor.
- The Courthouse, located on Abbey Street, is a fine 1832 building, still in use. Until 2016 it also housed the County Council but since 2016 they're in a modern building adjacent.
Further out Edit
- 3 Castlecoote House, Cooly (5 km west of town on R366), ☏ . Jun-Aug W-Su 14:00-18:00. Grand Georgian manor, next to the ruins of the 16th C castle. Tours are only available Jun-Aug but the grounds are open Apr-Oct daily, €2. They also host the Percy French Festival in July, and regular courses in Biblical Hebrew. They may have accommodation.
- 4 Castlestrange Stone is a granite boulder with curving incised decorations of La Tène style, so it dates to 200 BC, though the cobble mounting and cattle grid are modern. This Celtic style appeared circa 500 BC in La Tène near Neuchâtel in Switzerland and spread across Europe, so it's become a marker for the extent of Celtic culture. Park at the bend in the public road and walk up the Desmesne driveway. There are three similar La Tène stones across Ireland, more or less in a line, what's that all about? - since they have no obvious astronomical alignment.
- 5 Castlerea Railway Museum, Main St, Castlerea, ☏ . By arrangement. Large private collection of Irish rolling stock, equipment and fittings. Adult €5.
- 6 Rathcroghan, The Square, Tulsk (by junction of N5 and N61), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00 plus May-Aug Su 12:00-16:00. Prehistoric complex accessed via guided tour starting from the visitor centre in Tulsk village. These start M-F at 12:00 plus May-Aug at 14:00 and take about 2 hours. There are some 240 sites in the complex, the tour takes in half a dozen such as Rathcroghan Mound and Oweynagat Cave. Adult €15, conc €13, child €6.
- 7 Strokestown Park, Strokestown F42 H282, ☏ . Closed ufn. Magnificent Palladian mansion, but built upon ruthless exploitation of the tenantry, who were evicted or starved in great numbers. It incorporates the National Famine Museum.
- 8 Rinn Dúin or Rindoon is an abandoned medieval village on a headland in Lough Ree. The village and St John's Castle were built in 1227, and destroyed in raids in the 13th / 14th. There were attempts to rebuild in the 16th / 17th C - the windmill is from this period - but most of what you see is medieval. You're free to stroll the extensive site anytime.
- Don't see Athassel Priory: this extensive ruin is in Golden, near Cashel in County Tipperary, but as of Dec 2020 Google Map imagines it to be near Roscommon Racecourse. Clearly nonsense, since the Augustinian doctrine of Athassel discouraged the monks from going to the races.
- Omniplex Cinema is on the retail park east side of town, junction of N61 and N63.
- Roscommon Arts Centre stages various live events. It's on N61 east side of town.
- Roscommon Golf Club is 500 m south of town on Golf Links Road. Blue tees are 6069 m, par 72.
- The Leisure Centre is on St Coman's Park, 200 m west of The Square. It has a 25 m pool, gym and fitness classes. It's open M-F 06:30-22:00, Sa Su 10:00-17:00.
- 1 Roscommon Racecourse, Racecourse Road F42 V052 (2 km northwest of town on N60), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Flat and National Hunt (jumps) races are held May-Sept on an oblong right-handed track of 2 km (1 mile 2 furlongs). There are 9 meetings a year: the main flat race is the Lenebane Stakes in July, while the main jumps event is the Kilbenet Novice Chase in late Sept.
- Watch a GAA match of hurling or Gaelic football. Roscommon's county team play at Douglas Hyde Park (capacity 30,000) 400 m east of town along N61. The town club Roscommon Gaels play at Lisnamult, 500 m southwest of the centre past the railway station.
- 2 Mote Park is a pleasant forest area with walking and cycling trails. It's 5 km southeast of town on N61, take the second right after the railway level crossing.
- 3 Portrunny is an inlet of Lough Ree, with hiking trails, a boat jetty, playground and Saint Diarmuid's Holy Well.
- Suck Valley Way is a 105 km walking trail through the county. The section along the banks of the River Suck between Athleague and Castlecoote is the best of it. There's a Visitor Centre in Athleague.
- SuperValu is located on Main Street, Tesco is located in the car park behind SuperValu, Dunnes Stores is located on the Mart Road, an unusually large full-service Londis is in Abbeytown, and Aldi and Lidl are on the Lanesborough Road.
- There are several clothing and footwear shops in the town centre, including Donnellan's and DV8 on Main Street, Paul Byron Shoes in Stone Court Centre and John Corcoran Menswear on Church Street.
- There are outdoor ATMs at AIB on Church Street, Permanent TSB on Main Street, and Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank on the Market Square.
- Jackson's, Market Square, ☏ . Daily 10:00-23:00. Restaurant with modern European and oriental menu, also has rooms, very mixed reviews. B&B double €100.
- Gleeson's, Market Square, ☏ . Daily 17:00-21:00. 19th century townhouse restaurant serves great Irish food. They have rooms but it's the meals that earn the plaudits. B&B double €100.
- La Trattoria, Stone Court Shopping Centre, Market Square, ☏ . M-Sa 15:00-22:00, Su 14:00-22:00. This Italian restaurant gets consistently good reviews.
- Regan's, Market Square, ☏ . Daily 12:00-21:00. Gastropub and restaurant, reliable good quality.
- Peppermill, Golf Links Rd, ☏ . Smart clean place for Irish and European cuisine.
- In the Square are Central Bar and JJ Harlows (which gets the best reviews).
- Places along Castle St are Cattigans and The Hollywood. McCrann's has closed and in 2020 was up for sale.
- Rockford's on Castle St is a night club.
- J.S. Murray's, Knockcroghery (on N61). This is the one to head for if you stay at Galey Bay caravan park.
- Cong Camping is 1 km from town along N60 Racecourse Rd. Poor facilities, not worth their €20 / night.
- 1 Galey Bay, Knockcroghery F42 RP20 (8 km southeast of town), ☏ . Good campsite and caravan park on peaceful site by Lough Ree.
- Abbey Hotel, Galway Rd F42 F992 (opposite railway station), ☏ . Convenient mid-range place, erratic on cleaning and service. B&B double €90.
- Gleesons has rooms, see Eat.
- 2 Hannon's Hotel, Athlone Rd F42 PH33 (N61 near hospital), ☏ . Mid-range place gets mostly good reviews for comfort, service and food but has occasional debacles.
As of Dec 2020, Roscommon town has 4G from Eir, 5G from Three, but only 3G from Vodafone.
Go next Edit
- Carrick-on-Shannon together with Leitrim is a major junction on the Shannon navigation system.
- Athlone has a fine castle and cathedral.
- Tuam and Athenry are small towns with ancient religious sites, ruined abbeys and castles. They're in east Galway, the lowland part which resembles Roscommon.
- Galway is a lively colourful city, while further west is the wild upland scenery of Connemara.