County Roscommon

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County Roscommon
Irish: Contae Ros Comáin
Republic of Ireland
Lough Key
County Roscommon
[Interactive map]
Province: Connaught
Area: 983 square miles
Population: 64,065
County seat: Roscommon

The County of Roscommon is a shire of Connaught in the Republic of Ireland. It is bounded on the east by the River Shannon and its loughs, and on the west by the counties of Mayo and Galway.

The county is named after the town of Roscommon. Roscommon comes from the Irish Ros meaning a wooded, gentle height and Comán, the name of the founder, first abbot and bishop of Roscommon. The population is 64,065 according to the 2011 census.[1]


Roscommon Castle.

Roscommon is the 9th largest of the 32 counties of Ireland by area and the fifth least-populous county in Ireland. It has an area of 984 square miles.[2] It has the second least population density after Leitrim.[3] It is the third largest of Connaught's five counties by size and fourth largest in terms of population. The county borders every other Connaught county - Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim, as well as three Leinster counties - Longford, Westmeath and Offaly. In 2008, a news report said that statistically, Roscommon has the longest life expectancy of any county on the island of Ireland.[4] Lough Key in north Roscommon is noted for having thirty-two islands. The Geographical centre of Ireland is located in the county.[5]


There are nine baronies in County Roscommon:

North Roscommon

South Roscommon

History of the Baronies

Athlone - O'Kelly were princes of Ui Maine, Athlone being part of the territory. O'Fallon is cited as a chief in the parishes of Dysart and Camma. O'Fallon was known as Lord of Crioch-na-g-Cedach and chiefs of Clan Uadach. MacKeogh is cited as Lords of Magh Finn (Moyfinn), known as MacKeoghs country. O'Maoilbrighde (O'Mulbride) is cited as a chief in the barony of Athlone. The O'Naughton (O'Naghten) became Chief of the Fews here after coming to Athlone from Loughrea, Galway following the coming of the Normans. A Murray sept was centered in Ballymurry. Ballintober North and South - The O'Monoghans were lords of the Three Tuathas who in 866 were chiefs of Ui Briuin na Sionna in the barony of Ballintober, until the year 1249. The O'Beirnes are said to have overthrown the O'Monaghans of Tir Briuin in the 13th century. The O'Hanleys were later chiefs of Cinel Dobhtha (Doohie Hanley), a territory comprising most of the baronies. The O'Feeney sept were located in Ballintober North. The O'Mooneys were chiefs of Clan Murthuile, a district in Ballintober. The district nearly co-extensive with Ballintober North was referred to as Baghna (for Sliabh Bagna, aka Slievebaune). Ballymoe - O'Concheanainn (O'Concannon) were chiefs of the Ui Diarmada in the baronies Ballymoe and Roscommon. The O'Finnachta (O'Feenaghty) were chiefs here and in barony of Ballymoe in Co. Galway. Boyle - O'Monoghan of the Three Tuathas are noted early here. The O'Beirnes were said to have overthrown the O'Monaghans of Tir Briuin in the 13th century. A MacManus seat of power was cited in ancient Tir Tuathail [Maoilgairbh] in the parish of Kilronan. O'Mullaney is given in this barony near Co. Sligo. The MacDermots were princes here in a district which was part of the territory of Moylurg and which also included Tirerrill in Co. Sligo. Mac Riabhaigh (e.g. MacGreevy) is given as a chief of Moylurg before the MacDermotts. A chief residence of the O'Duigenan family, of Four Masters fame, was in northern parish of Kilronan. Castlereagh - The O'Flynns were chiefs of Siol Maolruain, with their territory based west of Castlerea and south of Airteach. O'Flynn's country was the entire present parish of Kiltullagh, and part of Kilkeevin parish. Frenchpark - The Ciarrage groups here were the early lords of Airteach. Mac Donagh is cited as later lords of Airtech. The O'Flanagan here were hereditary stewards to the Kings of Connaught. Moycarn - MacGilla Finnagain (O'Finnegan), along with O'Kenny, was a chief of Clan Laithemhain, also called Muintir Cionaith (Kenny), a district in the barony. Roscommon - Mag Oireachtaigh (Mac Geraghty) is cited here as chief of Clan Tomaltaigh and Muintir Roduiv. O'Monoghan of the Three Tuathas held sway here and in the baronies of Ballintober and Boyle. The O'Fidhne (O'Feeney) were also located here. The O'Mulconroys were hereditary historians and bards were centered here. The O'Mulrenan sept are cited as chief of Clan Conor, and descending from the Clan Cathail. [6]

Towns and villages


River Suck at Athleague.

Rathcroghan, near Tulsk, a complex of archaeological sites, the home of Queen Maeve, was the seat of Kings of Connaught and then to the High Kings of Ireland. This was the starting point of the Táin Bó Cúailnge, or Cattle Raid of Cooley, an epic tale in Irish mythology.

County Roscommon as an administrative division has its origins in the mediæval period. With the conquest and division of the Kingdom of Connaught, those districts in the east retained by King John as "The King's Cantreds" covered County Roscommon, and parts of East Galway. These districts were leased to the native kings of Connaught and eventually became the county. In 1585 during the Tudor re-establishment of counties under the Composition of Connaught, Roscommon was established with the South-west boundary now along the River Suck.

Ordnance survey

John O'Donovan (1806–61), historian and scholar, visited County Roscommon in 1837. He was compiling information for the ordnance survey. Entering St. Peter's parish in Athlone in June, 1837, he wrote 'I have now entered upon a region totally different from Longford, and am very much pleased with the intelligence of the people'. But he had major problems with place-names. He later wrote, 'I am sick to death's door of lochawns, and it pains me to the very soul to have to make these remarks, but what can I do when I cannot make the usual progress? Here I am stuck in the mud in the middle of Loughs, Turlaghs, Lahaghs and Curraghs, the names of many of which are only known to a few old men in their immediate neighbourhood and I cannot give many of them utterance from the manner in which they are spelled'.[7][8]

The River Shannon running through Athlone town.


  • Luke O'Connor, the first soldier to receive the Victoria Cross, born in Elphin in 1831.
  • Chris O'Dowd, Irish actor and comedian, born in Boyle.
  • John Fitzgibbon (1845-1919) - Member of Parliament.
  • Baron de Freyne, landlords and residents of Frenchpark House.
  • Douglas Hyde (1860–1949) - an Irish scholar of the Irish language who served as the first President of Ireland from 1938 to 1945. He founded the Gaelic League, one of the most influential cultural organisations in Ireland. Hyde is buried in the Hyde Museum, Frenchpark, Roscommon.
  • Percy French (1854–1920) - one of Ireland's foremost songwriters and entertainers. He has also become recognised for his watercolour paintings.
  • Henry Gore-Browne, recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • William Griffiths, recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Sir Owen Lloyd, recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Maureen O'Sullivan, Ireland's first international movie star, was born in Boyle, County Roscommon.
  • Brian Leyden, Irish novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, and documentarian
  • Thomas Heazle Parke, Irish explorer, born in Clogher House.


  1. Census 2011 - County Roscommon Overview
  2. "Template:Citation error". 
  3. Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. 
  4. "Roscommon tops life expectancy study". RTÉ News. Dublin: RTÉ Commercial Enterprises. 12 August 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2009. 
  7. Hunt, Roy, 'Painful progress: the slow evolution of County Roscommon society, 1850-1914'. Unpublished Thesis, 2010, NUIG p. 8
  8. John O' Donovan, 'letters containing information relative to the antiquities of the County of Roscommon, collected during the progress of the ordnance survey, 1837. p. 5. Special collections section, National University of Ireland, Galway, 2009 reproduced by Rev. Michael O'Flanagan, Bray 1927

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Counties of the Republic of Ireland

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