Daily Archives: December 12, 2010

A Tour of Ireland ~ episode 14

Roscommon

County Roscommon is land locked and borders every other Connacht county including Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

Boyle, one of the chief towns of the county, nestles at the foot of the Curlew Mountains on the main pass connecting the plains of Connacht with the North. It is a great town for fishermen, whether they are interested in trout or coarse fishing

Boyle Abbey is an impressive and well preserved Cistercian Monastery which was founded in the 12th century, Boyle Abbey retains its ability to impress the visitor as one of the most formidable of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland. Restricted access for people with disabilities.

King House is a magnificently restored Georgian Mansion built around 1730 by Sir Henry King. After its first life as a home, King House became a military barracks to the Connaught Rangers from 1788 until 1922. Until 1947 King House was also a barracks for the Irish Army.

Drumanone Dolmen was built before 2,000BC. The capstone is one of the largest in Ireland. The dolmen is located on private property and should only be accessed with care ;via the gates at the railway crossing provided by Iarnrod Eireann.

Carrick-on-Shannon is situated on the shores of the majestic River Shannon and is both the county town of Leitrim and the cruising capital of the Shannon. With 750km of cruising available the town is ideally situated at the gateway to both the River Shannon to the south and the Shannon-Erne Waterway to the north. Pleasure cruisers available for day trips or longer holidays. Carrick is also widely acknowledged as an Anglers paradise and within a 10km radius of the town there are no fewer than 41 lakes. A celebrated angling center Carrick-on-Shannon also boasts fantastic fishing opportunities for the amateur and professional fisher with many species of game and course fish available within a short distance of the town.

Lough Key is frequently referred to as the “Jewel of the West”. From Lough Gara, the Boyle River flows into Lough Key, before continuing its journey through to the mighty River Shannon.  It is noted for having thirty-two islands. This is, coincidentally, the number of counties in Ireland.  Immediately to the south of the lough is Lough Key Forest Park, a popular destination for recreational walkers. The park, opened in 1972, it covers 865 acres formerly part of the Rockingham estate.

Ireland’s first President, Douglas Hyde, was brought up in the rectory of the parish of Tibohine, Co. Roscommon, south of Lough Key and Lough Gara.  He learnt Irish, collected ancient lore and, in the course of time, had a distinguished university career in Dublin. Douglas Hyde became a leading authority on all aspects of Gaelic culture and a key figure in the revival of the Irish language. He was a fine poet and ‘Love songs of Connaught’ is one of his greatest collections. His father’s old church is now a museum dedicated to showing memorabilia about Douglas Hyde – the Church of Ireland boy who took up the cause of the Irish language and ended up as the first President of Ireland.

Castlerea was the birthplace , in 1815, of Oscar Wilde’s father, Sir William Wilde.  He was an antiquarian and oculist.

Just west of the town is the ‘great house’ of Clonalis which was rebuilt in the 19th century.  It was the seat of the O’Conor Don, a direct descendant of the last High King of Ireland.  Nineteenth-century portraits hang in the library, which also holds many fine books.. There is a private chapel and the highlight of the museum is the harp of Ireland’s last great bard, Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), whose portrait is displayed.  Amongst his compositions was the tune to which the Star Spangled Banner is now sung.

Percy French, best known for his songs The Mountains of Mourne; Are ye right there Michael, are ye right; Phil the Fluther’s Ball, was born in Clooneyquin, Co. Roscommon. Cloonyquin House his boyhood home, stood on a hillside between the villages of Tulsk and Elfin. The ruins of the Bishop’s Palace can be seen in Elfin, with Tulsk not far from the earthworks that marks the palace of the splendid pagan Queen Maeve. Cloonyquin House was demolished in the 1950s.  Although a superb entertainer, he was most recently celebrated for his superb watercolours and his landscape paintings.