Six reasons to love Boyle in County Roscommon

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Six reasons to love Boyle in County Roscommon

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

McDermott Castle on Castle Island Lough Key; Boyle, County Roscommon. Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek
McDermott Castle on Castle Island Lough Key
Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek

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.

King House

King House dining room, Boyle, County Roscommon. Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek
King House dining room
Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek

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

Gaelic Chieftain at foot of Curlews; Boyle, County Roscommon. Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek
Gaelic Chieftain at foot of Curlews
Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek

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.

Boyle Abbey

Boyle Abbey; Boyle, County Roscommon. Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek
Boyle Abbey
Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek

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.

Moone Boy

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.

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Location, Location, Location

sunset on Lough Gara; Boyle, County Roscommon. Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek
sunset on Lough Gara
Photo by Anna Marie Jehorek

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.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Ireland trip in August , grandparents, daughter and son in law and boys 5 and 7.
    Flying in to Dublin…….then heading directly to Galway.
    Using as a hub, then to 2 nites Waterville, then ….not sure……ending with 2 nites in Dublin.
    Any suggestions to make it memorable for the children as well?………appreciate you’re advice. We are staying at hotels with indoor swim pools to help after sightseeing days!

      Keep in mind that you are traveling at peak season and to some of the busiest spots in Ireland – so expect crowds.

      When you say Galway, do you mean the city? If so, you will be near the Burren- and there are loads of family friendly activities there.

      If you head out into Connemara I recommend a stop at the Connemara History & Heritage Centre- it’s really terrific- as well as a hike at Connemara National Park.

      Waterville is the very far end of the Ring of Kerry… Do make sure to get into Killarney as there is much to see & do there in Killarney National Park.

      Kilkenny would be a nice place to stay between Kerry & Dublin…

      In Dublin be sure to visit the National Museum of Archaeology – the boys will love the Bog Bodies in the Kingship & Sacrifice exhibit. Take a look at this article I wrote for Family Travel 411 on Dublin with Kids…

      About pools in Ireland… swim caps are required. Also, most hotels have certain swim times for kids- rarely will you find that a pool is available to children all day. Be sure to check this with your hotels.

      Hope that helps!

    I did not realize that actor was from Ireland. I’m going to have to check out the show.

    Boyle looks lovely!

    Nice list! The Boyle Abbey looks really cool.

    This is absolutely stunning. I can see why you love it! I have never considered visiting Ireland but this definitely makes me want to add it to my bucket list.

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