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Centrally located and firmly landlocked, Roscommon boasts the geographical centre of Ireland within its boundaries. Much of its area is covered by bog or good grassland pasture, and the upper reaches of the River Shannon stretch along almost its entire western border.
To the north of the county, Lough Key constitutes part of one of the most extensive and picturesque of forest parks in the country, and the lough is noted for having a total of 32 wooded islands within its waters. The lake is several kilometres wide, and the more than 800 acres of the park include an impressive amount of mixed woodland; on Castle Island a striking 19th century white folly castle provides a significant landmark for sailors, whilst on Church Island and Trinity Island the ruins of mediaeval priories give an indication of a more authentically historic local heritage.
Things to do in County Roscommon
Boyle– The site of an impressive 12th century Cistercian Abbey, founded under the patronage of a local ruling family, the MacDermotts, the town of Boyle sits at the foot of the Curlew Mountains near to Lough Key, a thriving and attractive midland conurbation. Boyle Abbey is thought to be one of the best-preserved structures of its kind to be found anywhere in Ireland. The five-arched structure of the 12th century Abbeytown Bridge stretches across the River Boyle close to the Abbey, and is perhaps the oldest surviving bridge in the country. Just beyond the town, the Drumanone Dolmen dates from before 2000BC, and is of internationally historical importance. In rather more recent history, Boyle is also noted for being the birthplace of 'The IT Crowd' actor Chris O'Dowd.
Roscommon Castle – Situated on a modest hillside just outside the county town, the enormous yet well-preserved Roscommon Castle dates from the 13th century, although it was rebuilt soon after its construction by the Normans in 1269, following a disastrous fire. A monument of national importance, the spooky ruins of this once-stout fortress are partly the consequence of subsequent actions by Cromwell, who deliberately destroyed the main fortifications in 1652.
Strokestown – Boasting the second widest street in Ireland, Strokestown was a 'planned town', designed by a wealthy local landowner, and was once at the centre of one of the biggest estates in the county. Today it plays host to an internationally renowned poetry festival, an annual agricultural show and an annual traditional music event.
Carrowkeel – The site of a Neolithic passage tomb cemetery, near to the town of Boyle, the Megalithic tombs at Carrowkeel are set on high ground above Lough Arrow, and have been carbon dated to predate the Egyptian Pyramids. To the north of Carrowkeel, another highly significant giant passage tomb is to be found, and is known as Heapstown Cairn.
Rathcroghan - Near to the village of Tulsk, the complex of archaeological ritual and burial sites at Rathcroghan includes the main, 90 metre wide Rathcroghan mound, and Owneynagat, the souterrain and narrow limestone cave, which is also known as the 'cave of the cat'.
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