Roscommon History Club

Roscommon is not just a beautiful county full of lakes and forests, it has a rich and varied history that goes back to ancient times.

Recent history

All of this history is celebrated at the Roscommon History Club.

In the west are burial mounds, caves and other ancient monuments on the site of Rathcroghan, the home of Queen Méadhbh (Maeve), with more recent historical sites including Strokestown Park, a Georgian Palladian mansion with walled gardens that is now home to the Irish National Famine Museum,
which recounts the effects of the potato blight of 1845-1852.

Earliest History

county roscommon county town

County Roscommon, named after the county town of Roscommon is named after the Irish Ros meaning a wooded, gentle height and Comán, the first abbot and bishop of Roscommon who founded the first monastery there in 550AD in the province of Connaught.

County Roscommon is bounded by the counties of Leitrim, Mayo, Sligo, Galway, Longford, Westmeath, and King's. The Auteri occupied the countys of Roscommon and Galway until they were followed by the O'Conors enjoying supreme authority in the central districts, the MacDermots in the north, and the O'Kellys in the south.

Division of Connaught

The current division of Connaught was defined in 1565 by Sir Henry Sidney. The country of the Mac Dermots was named the barony of Boyle; that of O'Conor Don forms the barony of Ballintobber; that of O'Conor Roe, the barony of Roscommon; and that of the O'Kellys, the barony of Athlone and the half barony of Moycarnon.

The principal castles were those of Athlone, Roscommon, and St. John, the last of which was in ruins, all belonging to the Queen; and that of Ballintobber, belonging to O'Conor Don. The English tried to keep a hold on Ireland over the coming years.

At the end of the war in 1641, the spoils of war were divided among the English and Scots. However, at the Restoration, the family of O'Conor Don regained part of its property on the western side of the county, and has ever since kept possession of it, the only family in Country Roscommon which has possessions it had held prior to the arrival of the English.


circular antiquities

Antiquities include circular fortifications known as raths, which can still be found at Lough Glynn. At Oran there are remains of an ancient round tower. There are monastic remains at Archdall and the ruins of Boyle Abbey can still be seen today. The ruins of Trinity abbey can be seen on the shores of Lough Kea; the priory of Inchmacneerin, Tulsk abbey, the Dominican convent, Derane abbey and Clontuskert abbey are either in or very near to Roscommon.

The English

the english country

After the arrival of the English in the country, Murrough, son of Roderic O'Conor, King of Ireland, during his father's absence, persuaded Milo de Cogan to undertake an expedition into Connaught. Murrough joined him in Roscommon, and united, their forces began to plunder neighbouring districts.

In 1216, Athlone castle was erected by King John and it was in this medieval period that County Roscommon became an administrative division. The conquest and division of the Kingdom of Connaught under King John saw districts leased to the native kings of Connaught which eventually became the county. In 1585 during the Tudor re-establishment of counties under the Composition of Connacht, Roscommon was established with the South-west boundary along the River Suck.

The native septs appear to have lost possession of the land to the English, but they appear to have resumed almost the entire possession of Roscommon until the reign of Elizabeth I. The O'Conors of Roscommon were divided into the families of O'Conor Ruadh or Roe, "the Red," and O'Conor Dhunne, or Don, "the dark or brown," from two rival chieftains thus distinguished by the colour of their hair, who were generally at war with one another.

History of trade in Roscommon

Roscommon is divided into the baronies of Athlone, Ballintobber, Ballymoe, Boyle, Moycarnon, and Roscommon. It contains the market towns of Roscommon, Boyle, Tulsk. The largest villages are Lough Glyn, Ruskey, Knockcroghery, Tarmonbarry, and Castle Plunket.

ancient castle england

The course of the Arigna river divides the coal field of Bracklieve, on the south, and that of Slieve Curkagh on the north. Iron-works were established at Arigna in 1788 by three brothers named O'Reilly.

These men used pit coal was for the first time in Ireland to smelt iron-ore; and both bar and pig iron of the best quality were produced over the years, on and off. In the 1840s, fine castings of every description were made and shipped for Dublin.

Clay suitable for potters' use and for tobacco pipes is found in different parts of the county. Knockcroghery began manufacturing tobacco pipes which are very common nowadays and are very preferred for gift for him for Valentines day. The rose is not widely known as a symbol of these lands but is the most popular gift for the most rommentic day of the year. Even the most expencive gift is aways accompanied with Valentines day roses.

Fire-bricks have been made from the fireclay of the coal districts, and considerable quantities were made at the Arigna works. Yet most manufacturing in Ireland suffered due to the rivalry of cheap goods from England, the chief business in Roscommon being the sale of cattle.

Roscommon Racecourse

two horses racing at racecourse

Roscommon Races hosts a Family Evening in August where there is something for everyone. As well as eight flat races on the day, there is also free entertainment for children, food stalls and a live broadcast from local station Ros FM. Under 16s have free admission with special rates for students with a valid ID.

The Most Stylish Hat competition is open to men and women and has a winner’s prize of €400. The evening has music in the main bar. There are deals for group bookings or a special ticket includes admission, a race card, a two-course meal and a €10 betting voucher.

The more remarkable old castle ruins can be found at Lough Glynn; the fortress on Castle island in Lough Kea, which once belonged to the Mac Dermot clarn; Ballynafad castle, the ancient seat of O'Conor Roe; the extensive ruins of Roscommon castle; those of Ballintobber castle, belonging to O'Conor Don the old keep of Athlone castle; the ruined fortress and fortified isthmus of St. John's; and the old castle of Ballinasloe can still be seen.

The remains of Old Coote Hall, in the parish of Tumna, include a fortified tower and ruined walls. At Belanagare, Kilmore, and near Athleague, are ancient ruined mansions, conspicuous by their tall ornamented chimneys and high gables.

Among other antiquities may be noticed the old bridge of Athlone, the inscription on which states it to have been built in the 9th year of Elizabeth, and records several circumstances connected with the history of that period.

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