Photo credit – Arigna Mining Experience
By Elaine Whelan
When it comes to staycation destinations, Roscommon seems to be an underdog. With many not knowing how much this Connacht county has to offer, they are missing out on the perfect family staycation destination. Here’s what to do if you decide to explore all that the Rossies have to offer.
The Arigna Mining Experience
The Arigna Mining Experience in Derreenavoggy, Carrick-On-Shannon provides a unique insight into what coal mining life was like in the Arigna Valley, since its beginning in the 1700’s. This is a great day out with kids as all tours are guided by ex-miners, who give visitors an insight into the mining way of life that kids and adults would be fascinated by. The museum has a coffee shop and a gift shop on site with ample parking space.
Tullyboy Farm is a family run real working visitor farm with spectacular lake views from the Georgian farmhouse and farm. There is a whole range of activities available at Tullyboy Farm from miniature tractor barrel rides, straw dives for goodies, playground, lots of animals to get up close to and hand feed and cuddle, tractor trailer and pony rides. After feeding the animals, feed yourself and enjoy a cup of tea and some sweet treats in the farm café.
Cruachan Aí which is also known as Rathecroghan, is the oldest and largest unexcavated Royal Site in Europe. It is known as the Sacred Capital of Connacht, and is the location where the festival of Samhain or Halloween is said to have originated. Cruachan Aí is rich in archaeology, mythology and history which you can discover through the help of interpretive rooms and expertly guided tours. The Visitor Centre is also home to the Tain Café where delicious delicacies are always on the menu.
The Elphin Windmill is the oldest working windmill of its kind in the country. It is beautifully restored and makes for the perfect family picture location with its whitewashed walls, red door and thatch roof. The Elphin visitor centre teaches you all about the inner working of the windmill, its history and the history of wheat and barley production in Ireland centuries ago. Also located on site is an agricultural museum where kids can learn about the machinery used to harvest the crops before it was sent to the mill. Perfect for little lovers of all things tractors. It will amaze them to combine modern combine harvesters to the ones of the past.
Lough Key Forest and Activity Park
The Lough Key Experience is an engaging audio tour of the history and nature of the park. The tour brings you through 19th Century underground servant’s tunnels, up the 5-storey Moylurg Viewing Tower and along Ireland’s first Tree Canopy Walk, which is a 300 metre that sits nine metres above the forest floor. Lough Key is also home to is a two-storey challenge called Boda Borg where groups have to use teamwork and ingenuity to escape the 43 rooms. If that’s not enough, why not Segway through the woods, go on electric bike rides or let your kids run wild in the adventure play kingdom.
If you’re just looking for a nice leisurely stroll to enjoy the sunshine without spending a penny, load up the clan in the car and take a spin to Loughnaneane Park. The vast park sits at the foot of a 13th century castle. Your kids are free to roam the crannogs, mounds, wildflower meadows an bird walks before heading to the playground. Parents can sit and admire the beautiful surroundings or even work up a sweat in the outdoor gym.