County Roscommon

Roscommon Castle, County Roscommon

In search of Ireland, under the radar? Roscommon is where you'll find it

Lough Key Forest Park and Curlew Bypass, County Roscommon

Where big names began

Don't delay. It won't likely remain under the radar for long. For starters, it's the birthplace of Ireland's first president, Douglas Hyde, and then there's the reason why Bridesmaids star Chris O'Dowd has @BigBoyler as his Twitter handle – he's referring to his childhood stomping ground of Boyle, a busy market town located in the north of the county. 

In addition to this celebrity link, the county also has its eccentricities, the most notable of which is its lamb festival (April-May) – the only such one in Ireland. And the primrose county certainly isn't lacking in sophistication. There’s the Royal Site of Rathcroghan, which may have UNESCO World Heritage Site status in the future.

Castle Island, County Roscommon

A woodland wonderland

It doesn't have a coastline, but it is three-quarters bounded by water. Sail and cruise boats glide around lakes including Lough Ree, and rivers like the mighty Shannon and the Suck are enticing locations for fishermen, too.

At the heart of the county lies Lough Key. Surrounded by 350 hectares of woodland, the old Rockingham family estate has today been transformed into a fantastic forest park. Can you see yourself swinging like Tarzan through an aerial adventure course, exploring servants' tunnels, or taking a tree canopy walk? And they are just some of the fun activities on offer...

Roscommon Castle, Lough Key Forest park, Strokestown House

A lamb's tale

When you work up an appetite (and you will work up an appetite), make sure to tuck into some Roscommon lamb. Roscommon doesn't just have the highest lamb output in Ireland; it has some of the sweetest-tasting, too – thanks to free-range farming and lush, limestone-rich soil. 

The result is finding its way onto menus all over Ireland, but it tastes all the better close to home, at local restaurants, farmers' markets and riverside stop-offs. Or you could always combine grub and a giggle at that lamb festival we mentioned.

Guess we know where Chris O'Dowd got his sense of humor.

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