I have teamed up with Visit Roscommon to tell you about some of my recommendations of family friendly things to do in the county. Roscommon is a place steeped in myth and legend, with hidden gems around every corner and friendly faces to greet you. Enjoy unforgettable adventures from high in the trees, or under the ground. There is something for everyone in this incredible part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, check out Visit Roscommon to find out more.
If you are driving from Sligo one of the first sights you’ll see when you cross the Roscommon border is the Gaelic Chieftain sculpture. This is one of the most spectacular road sculptures in Ireland, and probably one of the most photographed too. Artist Maurice Harron created it, and it commemorates the Battle of Curlew Pass.
Things to do
I’d recommend a visit to Boyle on a Saturday when the Courtyard Market is on from 10am – 2pm. It’s a great chance to meet the locals and buy locally produced food and crafts. King House is well worth a visit, it’s probably best suited to older children but the exhibits are interesting and the cells in the dungeon aren’t for the faint-hearted. There is a lovely playground and sculpture park just across the river, if you fancy a picnic.
See Roscommon from a different angle with a pony ride at Lough Gara Stables in Boyle. They also have the perfect day for all the family, including pony rides, archery, air soft, and more. Full details: https://loughgaraadventures.com/activities/activities-for-children/
Lough Key Forest and Activity Park is a must visit. You could easily spend a few days here, there is so much to see and do. The ‘Rockingham Remembered Tour’ gives you the opportunity to explore 19th century underground tunnels, take in the wonderful views from the 5-storey Moylurg viewing tower and walk the tree canopies. The park has hundreds of acres of woodland to walk or cycle (you can hire a bike if you don’t have your own). You can take part in orienteering and there are also “Wheel-O” wheelchair orienteering courses – so everyone is included.
Take to the water on a boat trip around the lake, or even go on a kayak adventure. If you have a head for heights, you’ll love Zipit forest adventures – suitable for age 7 and upwards. If the weather isn’t the best, check out Boda Borg – a series of 47 rooms full of challenges and quests and no instructions! Also suitable for age 7 and over.
Just down the road from Lough Key is Knockvicar alpacas, you can learn more about these beautiful creatures on a farm visit or take one for a walk. Pre-booking essential. Also, nearby you will find the magical bluebell woods. Derreen Woods is also known as the bluebell woods, it’s a beautiful place to walk all year round but especially in the bluebell season.
If you are looking for a relaxed couple of hours, I have just the place for you. Mountallen Farm isn’t your average farm, it’s something very special, and a must visit for nature and wildlife lovers. You can enjoy a biodiversity and ecology farm tour in North Roscommon, overlooking Lough Allen and Sliabh an Iarainn. Read my full blog post here: https://magnumlady.com/2021/06/06/a-farm-with-a-difference-in-roscommon/
Take a trip underground and visit the Arigna Mining Experience. Find out about the history of coal mining and the conditions that the miners had to work in, as you explore the mine. After your visit check out the stunning views from the centre.
Did you know that the birthplace of Samhain (Halloween) is in Roscommon? If you are brave enough, you can go inside Owneynagat (Cave of the Cats) in Rathcroghan and discover more. Rathcroghan Visitor Centre brings history to life through their museum and interpretive centre. Find out more about the oldest and largest unexcavated Royal Site in Europe and hear about the folklore and history of the area. The Rathcroghan Visitor Centre is open all year-round Monday to Saturday, 9am to 5pm daily. Visiting time to the caves may vary.
Elphin Windmill is a beautifully restored 18th century windmill. You will meet locals who will tell you about the history of the windmill and you can watch an informative video too. Open 12- 4pm daily.
Put a visit to Strokestown Park on your list. Home to the National Famine Museum, where you can find out the sad history of the people who lived in Strokestown in 1840. Take a guided tour of Strokestown Park House, a stunning Georgian Palladian Mansion, with all its original furnishings and fabrics. There’s a beautiful walled garden and forest walk. I’d recommend a day here if you have time. Open 7 days a week, pre-booking of the house tour advised.
The National Famine Way leaves Strokestown Park and traces the route of 1,490 emigrants who left Strokestown together in 1847. You can download the app out find out more about the history and places of interest to visit nearby. I did part of the trail earlier this year and you can read about it here.
Explore Lough Ree by boat, with Lough Ree Access for All this is aimed at providing people with disabilities with unlimited access to the waterways of Ireland. The boat can carry up to eight wheelchair users, and you can enjoy a tour of the lough or a fishing trip. The boat is available to everyone regardless of mobility. Pre-booking advised.
There’s a wonderful gem of a place in Castlerea. I stumbled upon Castlerea Demesne by chance and thought at one point I was Narnia. Explore the gorgeous fairy village and check out the acoustic playground featuring outdoor musical instruments, such as a xylophone, cymbals and more.
Just across the road is the grave of Cindy the Elephant. This is such a sweet story, a circus was visiting the town in 1963, and Cindy took a stroll to Mannion’s bar and there is a photo of her leaving the pub. When she died in 1972, the Castlerea folk offered a plot for her to be buried in. There’s now a lovely memorial garden and statue dedicated to the little elephant that made a big impression.
Castlerea is also home to a railway museum. The museum is next to the Hell’s Kitchen Bar, which is now closed, but back when it was open it was the only pub in Ireland that had a full-scale train in the bar. The museum is open by appointment and you can find out more here: https://www.hellskitchenmuseum.com/visit-us/
A short drive from Castlerea is Lough O’Flynn, here you will find an outdoor gym, playground, and looped walk. Visit Roscommon have all the information you need https://www.visitroscommon.ie/lough-oflynn-bog-loop/
Visit Loughnane Sculpture Park Trail and Roscommon Castle. This is such a lovely park and well worth a visit. It’s just on the outskirts of Roscommon town, so you can get in some retail therapy too. Explore the ruins of the 13th Century Roscommon Castle, outdoor gym, playground, and a beautiful sculpture trail, including a nature chair carved with wildlife from the area.
Discover The Lilliput Way. A short drive from Roscommon town you will find the Cloonlarge Bog Walk in Kilteevan, and The Lilliput Way is part of that. Leave your cares behind as you go on the fairy trail in search of Gulliver. This is a stunning walk, and suitable for all the family. Read my full blog post here: https://magnumlady.com/2022/07/26/the-lilliput-way-in-roscommon/
I hope you have enjoyed my suggestions of things to do in Roscommon, there were more I could add but they are closed for the winter. Check out Visit Roscommon for more inspiration.
Places to stay
There are some fantastic places to stay in Roscommon, everything from a bed and breakfast to a castle, and something to suit all budgets. I’m listing some of my favourites, so that you can make a real holiday from your trip. You can check out more on the Visit Roscommon website: https://www.visitroscommon.ie/accommodation/
Embrace your inner wizard and give the whole family an unforgettable experience when you stay in Draiocht House in Boyle. Draiocht means magic in Irish, and this house has an abundance of it. From the Harry Potter themed bedrooms to the treehouse in the garden, broomsticks on the walls and even the bicycle in the bathroom!
Stay in an Irish Castle. Step back in time to the 18th century in the stunning Kilronan Castle. Relax in their award-winning spa and enjoy the leisure centre. Explore the beautiful grounds, overlooking Lough Meelagh. Check out their afternoon tea too – it’s fabulous!
The Abbey Hotel is in Roscommon town. It’s a family run four-star hotel with a leisure centre. We stayed here when the kids were younger and had a wonderful time.
Willowbrook Glamping are just outside Ballaghadereen. They have quirky named yurts, including Yurty Ahern and Yurt Cobain. They also have pitches for tents and motorhomes.
Lough Key Forest Park have an extensive campsite and is a wonderful place for families. Facilities on site include showers, toilets, laundry room, along with cooking hobs and washing area. The recreational room contains a football & pool table and a TV.
So, there you have it. My Roscommon suggestions, which in fairness could have been a longer – but it would have been a book! Thanks to Visit Roscommon for asking me to be involved. Follow the #VisitRoscommon tag on Social Media to discover more inspiration for your visit.
This is a sponsored post but all views and recommendations are my own.