Roscrea is a picturesque town located at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It is an old market town, with so many well preserved and restored medieval buildings that it has also earned distinction as a Heritage Town. Roscrea is part of the area nicknamed, “Ely O’Carroll Country”, named from two Irish families who controlled most of the area until the 17th century, when the English seized their land and wealth.
Roscrea’s most popular attraction is the Roscrea Castle and Damer House, the latter erected within the original castle fortifications in the 18th century. The castle itself is Norman, built in the 11th century. It narrowly escaped the wrecking ball in the 1970’s, but survived and was later restored, to the delight of present-day visitors.
Inside Damer House, you’ll find the exceptional Roscrea Heritage Centre. A fine example of Queen Anne Mansion, it contains many authentic period furnishings, decorations, and exhibits that tell the story of life in the town throughout its many centuries, back to its founding on the edge of Sli Dhala, one of ancient Ireland’s five great roads. While visiting the Roscrea Heritage Centre, you can pick up a tour book that will guide you along an impressive heritage walk through the town. Walk to St. Cronan’s Church and Round Tower, erected in the 12th century, and marvel at its beautiful high cross.
The town features an awe-inspiring skyline, filled with ancient castles, towers, and churches – together displaying a heritage that dates back to the seventh century. Particularly interesting is the facade of a 12th century church that also serves as the gateway to a present day Catholic Church. The doorway features a moulding on which you can see the likeness of a Bishop, probably St. Cronan.
Roscrea’s location – about halfway between Dublin and Limerick, on the national primary route N7 – makes it a convenient stop over for those travelling to destinations in the south and southwest from Dublin. The railway station in the centre of the town runs a feeder service about three times a day to nearby Ballybrophy, on the Dublin-Limerick rail line. Other activities available in the Roscrea area include golf, horseback riding, hiking and nature trails, and fishing in the nearby Shannon River and Lough Boora Parklands.