An article from Anna Marie Jehorek, author of The Cottage on Lough Key
In County Roscommon tucked at the foot of the Curlew Mountains you’ll find Boyle. This charming town on the banks of the Boyle River is my grandfather’s hometown and holds a special place in my heart. I love spending time here and happily promote all it has to offer vacationers. Though perhaps not as well-known as larger cities, Boyle has an abundance of adventures and attractions. Having just returned from an amazing stay there, I thought I’d take a moment to write down a few of the many reasons to love Boyle.
Lough Key Forest Park
Located a short distance outside of Boyle on the N4 is Lough Key Forest Park. The park is situated on 800-acres on the shores of Lough Key and features a world of adventures. Activities offered include; walking and cycling trails, boat rentals, a lakeside café, a caravan park, a zip-line canopy, adventure play kingdom, Boda Borg, park and historical estate, and much more. This is truly one of those places that’s a crowd-pleaser.
Built in the 18th-century, the King House is a restored Georgian Mansion. Once the home of the powerful landowning King family, it later served as a military barracks and was home to the Connaught Rangers. The home fell into disrepair and was scheduled to be demolished when a group of concerned citizens rallied to save the historic building. Today, the King House is a public museum and houses an art collection, The Connaught Rangers museum and serves as an event venue. There’s also a weekly farmers market, a tea room and a craft shop on the King House grounds.
Boyle Arts Festival
Each summer, visitors and residents alike convene in Boyle for the annual Boyle Arts Festival. The last two weeks of July have become synonymous with the arts in Boyle. Poetry workshops, films, plays, music – the city comes to life during this popular festival considered to be the best small town arts festival in all of Ireland. Local talent as well as big-name artists such as Sharon Shannon and Phil Coulter, participate in the annual celebration of Irish arts.
In the Twelfth-Century a group of Cistercian Monks built an abbey at the edge of the Boyle River. Today, the ancient remains of the abbey are open to the public. A self-guided tour transports visitors back to 1100’s and a monastic experience. The ruins is one of the most complete from this era and is located a short walk from the center of Boyle. We stayed at the Abbey House Bed and Breakfast which is on the grounds of the Boyle Abbey – footsteps from this amazing structure.
Unfamiliar with Moone Boy?
Moone Boy is a popular Sky 1 television series starring Boyle native, actor Chris O’Dowd. Editors note: You can watch it on Hulu. Good craic. (IT Crowd, Bridesmaids, Girls, The Sapphires) O’Dowd created the program loosely based upon his own childhood in the town. Much of the series was filmed on location in Boyle. Visitors can take the Moone Boy tour. It’s a fun way to follow the footsteps of the show’s characters and explore Boyle. Pop in the craft shop at the King House where you may purchase your official Moone Boy hat.
Location, Location, Location
At the risk of sounding clichéd, Boyle is a fantastic location to stay while you’re in Ireland. With a thriving city center, the beautiful Loughs Arrow, Gara and Key, an abundance of delightful inns, camping and outdoor activities, boating and more, Boyle is the perfect spot to call a vacation hub. With the convenience of the N4 as well as Irish rail, it’s possible to enjoy day trips to points north, south, east and west while visiting Boyle and of course there’s much to do in and around this treasure in County Roscommon.
Yes, I’m a little biased, but for me, no visit to Ireland is complete without spending a little time in Boyle. To quote from Moone Boy, “There’s no soil like Boyle soil.”
Anna Marie Jehorek is a wife, mother and writer living in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her travel blog is PullOverandLetMeOut.com and her debut novel, a fictional love story set in Ireland and North Carolina is The Cottage on Lough Key.