County Roscommon in Ireland’s central north is known for its scenery with lakes and forests, historic towns, stately homes and castles. Enjoy nature, history, fabulous food, and some really unique family-friendly activities and places to visit to keep you and the kids busy.
In our Guide to Roscommon for Families, we’ve picked some of our favourite things to do with the family around Roscommon, whether you’re planning a weekend break, looking to fill a rainy day, explore in the sunshine, or just try something new.
Our Guide to Roscommon for Families
Family-Friendly Things to Do in Roscommon
Strokestown Park, Gardens and Irish National Famine Museum is well worth a visit. Strokestown House, a Georgian Palladian mansion, was the family home of the Pakenham Mahon family and is built on the site of the 16th century castle, home of The O Conor Roe Gaelic Chieftains. It is unique in that it retains its original furnishings and professionally guided tours run daily giving an intimate insight into life in The Big House, upstairs and downstairs.
The six acre walled pleasure gardens have been restored to their original splendour and with features such as the herbaceous border, the fernery, lily pond, Victorian rose garden, pergola, peach house, and more.
The Irish National Famine Museum tells a different story and highlights the parallels between a tragic chapter of Irish History and contemporary global hunger.
The Arigna Mining Experience in Derreenavoggy is a great day out with the kids and provides a unique insight into what coal mining life was like in the Arigna Valley, since its beginning in the 1700’s. All tours of the mine are guided by ex-miners, who give visitors an insight into a working way of life you could not even imagine. Facilities include car parking, fully wheelchair accessible and baby changing facilities. There is a coffee shop on site as well as a small gift shop.
At Glendeer Pet Farm at Drum near Athlone you can meet cheeky animals, enjoy playgrounds, a fairy trail, traditional farm cottage and lots more! There are plenty of facilities under cover so it is an enjoyable day out rain or shine.
Derryglad Folk Museum in Curraghboy houses a unique collection of over 6,000 items which together tell the unique story of Roscommon’s history, heritage and folk culture. As well as horse-drawn machinery restored to original working order, the collection also deals with farm and folk life in Ireland from the 18th century to the recent past. Make sure to check out their tradesman’s tools and buttermaking equipment. Picnic area and car parking.
Free Things to Do in Roscommon
Walk part of the National Famine Way from Strokestown Park. The full route is a 165km trail that traces the footsteps of the Strokestown tenants, men, women and children who were marched from Roscommon to Dublin in 1847 after they failed to pay their rent. In Dublin, they boarded a ship to Liverpool before journeying to North America on board some of the worst coffin ships of the time. Not all of them made it alive. They became known as the ‘Missing 1490’.
Download The National Famine Way App available for iOS or Android to accompany you along the trail. The App and audio trail is centred around one of the original famine walkers from Strokestown – 12-year-old Daniel Tighe – who remarkably survived the horrific journey from Dublin to Quebec, Canada. It also tells you of services nearby, names landmarks and tells the history of what was happening in each of the areas during the Famine.
Take the Moone Boy Trail in Boyle, and see how many locations, and characters, you can spot from the hit tv series about Chris O’Dowd’s childhood in Boyle. You can download the Trailmap here.
Bring the kids to one of these great local libraries in County Roscommon. Most have children’s sections where the kids can sit down and entertain themselves with the great selection of books, games and puzzles.
Roscommon Town has a large Mart where you can see livestock bought and sold. For many children it is an opportunity to see that their burgers or lamb chops don’t just come wrapped in plastic from the fridge at the supermarket. Just make sure they don’t fidget about too much or you could come home with an unexpected new pet!
Outdoor Activities in Roscommon
Part of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, Roscommon offers plenty of outdoor fun, from rivers and lakes to native woodlands to wildflower meadows.
Lough Key Forest and Activity Park is an amazing place to visit with the children, with plenty of outdoor activities and heaps to do at the Forest Park including a tree top canopy walk, kids jeep safari, and plenty of walks and trails to follow. You can swim off the jetty as well so bring the togs if it’s a nice day. You’ll easily spend the whole day outdoors here. There are picnic tables and a café serving delicious food.
Strokestown Park also has fabulous parklands to run about and fly a kite in, as well as lovely gardens with a Victorian rose garden, 6 acre walled garden, and more. They run regular family events too so check before you visit.
Boyle Pleasure Grounds is a lovely outdoor spot where you can sit and rest or watch a game of soccer on the all-weather pitch. You can let the children play in the enclosed safe playground or walk along by the Boyle River.
You will find peaceful walks including a trail along the tranquil shores of Lough Errit and through the local wood and bog lands, taking in Lough Errit amenity area which has a slipway, bathing area, car park and boat house on its shores.
The looped walk around the Castlerea Demesne Parkland gives you a chance to see woodland wildlife and, if you look very carefully, a fairy village that is home to Castlerea’s magical folk! There is the option to continue your walk to the woodlands at Clonalis House, which was once home to the High Kings of Ireland.
Are you searching for what’s on for families in Ireland? Enjoy hours of family fun with our monthly round up of exciting events and things to do!
Family-Friendly Museums & Galleries in Roscommon
At the highly interactive Irish Famine Museum, located at Strokestown Park, breath-taking local and national stories from this tragic period in Ireland’s past are brought dramatically to life. Explore the parallel lives of Strokestown Park’s aristocratic landlords and their tenants during the Great Irish Famine at the state-of-the-art National Famine Museum. A mixture of imaginative scene-setting and innovative audio, audio-visual, and touchscreen resources – as well as a family activity guide – help to make a museum visit a fascinating, immersive experience for people of all ages.
King House in Boyle is a magnificently restored Georgian Mansion and today stands as a museum to life in Ireland in the 18th Century. Delve into the dramatic episodes of its history with stories of a tragic Irish romance, runaway lovers, a duel of honour, a murder trial, and feats of bravery and hardship in war. With the aid of special effects and life size models, visitors are taken back in history in an entertaining way. Children can write with a quill and ink or even dress in the attire of a Chieftain.
Visit Cruachan Aí and discover The Rathcroghan Complex, one of Ireland’s Celtic Royal Sites. The Rathcroghan Visitor Centre has interpretive rooms, where you can see how the Iron Age and Medieval Irish dressed, what they ate, where they lived, and what they believed in. You can go on a tour of the unique monuments from the mysterious ritual centre of Rathcroghan Mound, to the infamous Oweynagat, (Uaimh na gCat – the Cave of the Cats) entrance to the Irish Otherworld. There’s a café and shop on site too.
Castlerea Railway Museum hosts the largest private collection of rail memorabilia in Ireland including a fully restored A55 Diesel Locomotive. Also on display are bells, lamps, shunting poles, signal equipment, staffs, station boards, etc.
Roscommon Arts Centre is a vibrant, purpose-built arts space presenting professional and community based artists in theatre, dance, music, visual art, comedy and literature, along with a programme of cinema in the auditorium space. They also run workshops and classes for children and adults.
Rainy Day Activities in Roscommon
Spend fun filled hours experiencing the quests in Boda Borg @ Lough Key Forest & Activity Park, a totally unique activity to Ireland, suitable for adults and children over 7 years and it’s completely weather independent!
Boda Borg is divided into 15 Quests which contain up to 47 individual challenges. To survive the Quests you will need to employ many different skills you may not even be aware you have – teamwork, ingenuity and trial and error! Solving one challenge opens the door to the next, and another blast of curiosity, laughter and excitement. The only requirement is a minimum of 3 people per team & maximum 5. Pre-booking recommended.
Enjoy some swimming and splashing time at Roscommon Leisure Centre which has a 25m pool and separate learner pool. Castlerea Outdoor Swimming Pool is also open in summer months and is a 33m outdoor, heated pool supervised by fully trained lifeguards.
Kidzone Play Centre at Graune Pet Farm offers indoor fun – play soccer, bounce on the inflatable kingdom, or race the go-karts on the indoor track. If the rain eases, head out to see the animals.
Located in the heart of Roscommon Town, Sensory Me offers a safe, fun and sensory friendly environment for people of all ages and abilities to relax, enjoy, play and learn in.
Roscommon Leisure Zone offers soft play for under 10's as well as bowling, pool and arcade games
Catch a movie at Omniplex in Roscommon or at Roscommon Arts Centre.
Family-Friendly Hotels & Accommodation in Roscommon
Abbey Hotel Roscommon in the heart of the Irish Midlands, offers an intimate castle style setting with a perfect mix of old world and contemporary design. At the leisure centre you can enjoy a 20 metre heated pool with kids pool. And the kids will love exploring their extensive private grounds. Pizza menu and afternoon tea options available as well.
Hodson Bay Hotel offers a variety of family friendly room options from spacious classic and lake view family rooms, two-bedroom family suites large enough for five guests and interconnecting rooms that can accommodate up to eight guests. Family rooms are child-friendly and parent-friendly with everything you’ll need for a fantastic family break.
Kilronan Castle Estate & Spa in Boyle offers a fairytale stay in an authentic Irish castle with family hotel rooms that can accommodate up to five people in perfect comfort and exceptional surroundings. From flat screen televisions and comfortable beds, to tea/coffee making facilities and en-suite bathrooms, they promise to provide everything you need to keep the kids and yourself rested, entertained and most of all, happy with your family.
Check out more of our favourite family-friendly hotels and accommodation in Ireland – from luxury breaks and hotels with kids clubs to self-catering choices and family camping and glamping.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Roscommon
There are many good restaurants in Roscommon to choose from, here are some that have been recommended:
- The Lakeside Café at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park offers combination of delicious cooking, comfortable seating and majestic scenery overlooking the beautiful vista of Castle Island & Lough Key. There is also an outdoor deck for those dry days! Children are well catered for, with a tasty small menu that changes regularly – hot food with a cold choice of flavoured sugar free drink, and babies are not forgotten so be sure to ask for your baby bowl. High chairs are provided and there are colouring pages and crayons available to keep the children entertained while you enjoy your coffee and the views.
- The Woodland Café located in the old granary of Strokestown Park House is a family-friendly space offering coffee, snacks and delicious meals and is the perfect spot to refuel after exploring Strokestown Park’s grounds
- The award-winning Gleeson’s Townhouse & Restaurant is situated in the heart of Roscommon Town, beside the tourist office. They have a good tasty and diverse children’s menu using healthy ingredients. Food is homemade by chefs who love what they do and breads are baked daily inhouse.
- The Ardcarne Garden Cafe near Boyle has a wonderful mediterranean feel. Food is all freshly made on the premises and they offer a range of healthy, home-made lunches, snacks and desserts.
- Keenans of Tarmonbarry is located on the banks of the Shannon, and this popular stop off has great food and great views.
Get set for a real treat with tiers of delicious bite-sized goodies to enjoy at these fantastic places for kids’ afternoon tea in Ireland – they are definitely worth a visit!
Things to Do in Roscommon for Older Kids and Teens
Baysports Water Park near Athlone is an inflatable water park spread over 1400 sq. meters, where you can bounce, slide, thrill and splash to your heart's content! Then climb back aboard and do it all again. You don’t have to be able to swim but you must feel comfortable in approximately 2 meters of water. As well as the water park, Baysports offer kayaking, stand up paddling and pedal boats with wetsuit hire available.
Head to Lough Gara Adventures to try riding, archery, air soft target shooting and their assault course. Shannon River Adventure offer archery, climbing wall, Kayaking, mud slide, pier jumping and canoeing.
There's plenty for older kids and teens to do at Lough Key Forest and Activity Park including Zipit Forest Adventures, Eletric Bike Trails, and P Mac Kayaks.
For some escape room fun, try Boda Borg @ Lough Key. Once you enter the two-storey Boda Borg only teamwork, ingenuity, trial and error, and skills you probably didn’t know you have, will allow you to progress through its 47 rooms!
Ever played Footgolf? Yes it is as it is described, a game played on a golf course with a football. Play Footgolf, Discgolf and Par 3 Golf at Thomastown at Ballydangan (Eircode N37YN83 next door to Naughtons Garage).
The Elphin Windmill is a fully restored, working, 18th century windmill, the oldest type in the country. Unusual features are its thatched revolving roof and four sails that are turned into the wind by using a tailpole attached to a cartwheel on a circular track – definitely worth a visit!
The mill was originally used for grinding corn and other grains and now houses a visitor centre where the workings of the windmill are interpreted and demonstrated. Also on site is an agricultural museum housing a threshing machine, a winnower and other machinery associated with the harvesting of grain.