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Monday, November 11, 2013

School Tours in Roscommon

Planning your School Tour in County Roscommon

When planning a school tour, there is a checklist that one must inevitably go through:
  • Cost
  • Journey duration and traffic issues
  • Will the students have a good time, and will they come away with something new learned
  • Can our destination handle a large group of students
When each of these issues is considered, the usual avenues present themselves as viable options for the tour, oftentimes centring on the many, admittedly, excellent attractions located in our capital city. However, as the day unfolds, the likelihood of Dublin's traffic slightly dampening the enjoyment of the day out rears its ugly head.

As a result, this piece wishes to provide a more relaxed, but equally as enjoyable and informative, alternative for the traditional, often Dublin-centric, school tour.

So, starting in the south of this beautiful and culturally abundant county, let me outline some of the fantastic options available for your next school tour.

Athlone Castle

Located on the western bank of the 'Broad Majestic Shannon', Athlone Castle and its associated Interpretative Centre is an visually stunning exhibition which brings the turbulent history of Athlone to life before your eyes. An excellent option for all sizes of tour, its central location allows for easily accessible food and shopping options also. See for more information.

File:Castelo de Athlone Irlanda.jpg

Roscommon Castle, Abbey and Rindoon

Want to provide the students a unique view of Ireland and Roscommon's medieval past but stuck on a budget? Then Roscommon Town has just the answer. Both the castle and abbey are free to access and explore, something which belies their extraordinary histories. Rindoon, south of Roscommon town in the village of Lecarrow, a 13th century castle built by King Henry III of England, was populated by up to 1,000 people at its height. It really is a cultural gem, just waiting to be explored! For more information on all three, see and

Rathcroghan Visitor Centre @ Cruachan Aí

The seat of Royalty in the West of Ireland for the last 2,000 years, Rathcroghan holds the keys to a plethora of ceremonial and ritual monuments stretching from the Neolithic period up until the 17th century. Whether you want to explore the Celtic Iron Age, Medieval period, or want to be tested by the Morrigan, Celtic Goddess of Battle, in her 'fit abode', Rathcroghan is the place to be. To find out more, visit and for school tour options see

Strokestown House and Irish Famine Museum

Situated in a Georgian Palladian Mansion surrounded by 6 acres of walled pleasure gardens, Strokestown House and its associated grounds is a perfect example of how the two worlds of Ireland existed side-by-side. Housed within its beautiful and opulent architecture is Ireland's National Famine Museum. Follow at first hand the story of the years that would change Ireland's history forever, and give your students a unique insight into 'an Gorta Mór'. To find out more visit

Boyle Abbey

The 12th century Cistercian Monastery at Boyle retains its ability to impress the visitor as one of the most formidable of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland, despite its reuse as a military garrison in the 17th and 18th centuries. A restored gatehouse of 16th/17th century houses a fascinating exhibition that will excite the imagination of what life would have been like in a medieval monastery. For more information on Boyle Abbey, visit

Especially good options for Transition Year students are...

Bay Sports

Based on the shores of Lough Ree at Hodson Bay, Athlone, Bay Sports is has a wealth of facilities and activities to cater for ages 6 and up. Now catering for Transition Year and Gaisce Groups, if its water-based and its fun, Bay Sports do it. See for more information.

Shannon River Adventure

In keeping with the water-based fun, Shannon River Adventure in Rooskey provides a breathtaking range of activities from camping to archery, to supplement their already excellent facilities. Based on the shores of Lough Bofin, the scope for the exploration of this picturesque riverscape is abundant. Visit to see what else is on offer.

Lough Key Experience

Situated on the banks of Lough Key, the Forest and Activity Park is the perfect location to interact and experience all that this beautiful county has to offer in one place. With everything from a Tree Canopy Walk to an Adventure Play Kingdom, the Park really is a unique facility for all groups, including TY students. Check out to find out more.

Cave of the Cats - Oweynagat - in the Rathcroghan Complex

Oweynagat Cave Tour

Bring your boots and wet gear for this one, and don't forget the headlamps and torches for the climb down into the Cave of the Cats, Uaimh na gCait, or Oweynagat in the Rathcroghan Complex.  Book your visit through the Rathcroghan Visitor Centre in Tulsk on 071 9639268, or email on

So, if you are looking for something different to offer your students on a school tour, look no further than Roscommon.