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10 reasons to visit Roscommon in 2013

By The Gathering Ireland, 01 March 2013

There’s been a buzz about Roscommon lately thanks to actor Chris O’Dowd and his popular TV sitcom Moone Boy, but celebrity sightings aren’t the only reason to visit the western county in the upcoming months. Here are 10 gatherings taking place in Roscommon in 2013.

1. SiarSceal Festival International Gathering – 7 to 9 March

This Roscommon Town festival celebrates the county and its people through poetry, prose, short stories, music and dance. It all kicks off on 7 March with a bilingual poetry and art exhibition. Also, author, director and producer Eleanor McGrath is travelling from Canada to screen her film Kanata: An Irish Story, which explores the history of Irish emigration to Canada through individual stories. Other artists are coming from the US and UK, and there will even be a special appearance by Loyola Hearn, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland. View details

2. Roscommon Lamb Festival 2013 – 1 to 6 May

This festival is much more than its name suggests, with six days chockfull of food, heritage, craft, farming and outdoor sporting events throughout the county. Highlights include the Best of Roscommon Food Night with farmers, restaurants and other local food businesses showcasing their best produce. A celebrity chef also gets in on the fun by preparing lamb dishes. Other exciting aspects of the festival are the International Sheep Dog Trials, Family Fun Day in Loughnaneane Park and a 10km charity walk. View details

3. Lough Key Lake Swim – 15 June

Enjoy one of Co Roscommon’s natural treasures on 15 June during the Lough Key Lake Swim. This open-water swimming event has two courses of 750m and 1.5km which lap the castle island. As part of The Gathering Ireland, the organisers have invited swimming clubs from around the world to participate. This event is open to swimmers of all abilities, whether you want to simply have fun in the clean waters of Lough Key or challenge yourself to get a personal best. View details

4. The 5th International Percy French Summer School & Festival – 8 to 12 July

This event takes place in Castlecoote, Co Roscommon, and honours local man William Percy French, who was a prominent songwriter and painter in his day. The festival celebrates his life with lectures, music, recitals, poems, drama, paintings and more. The school also attracts a range of important performers and speakers each year. View details

5. Taste of Strokestown – 19 to 28 July

Strokestown Park, home to the Irish National Famine Museum, is doing its part for The Gathering Ireland with a 10-day festival to welcome home members of the diaspora. During the Great Famine, more than 5,000 people left the Strokestown estate of the Mahon family and emigrated to Canada, England, America and Australia. Now their descendants can visit Strokestown for a programme of events that includes a famine conference, music, drama and other community-based activities. View details

6. Irish National Sheep Dog Trials – 1 to 3 August

Ireland is known for its many agricultural traditions including shepherding. Anyone who looks after sheep knows the value of a good sheepdog, with canines being trained and bred for many years to develop the traits needed for the work. The National Sheep Dog Trials puts this all on display with competitions and demonstrations. The best competitors then get to strut their stuff against the top dogs from England, Scotland and Wales at the International Trial. View details

7. Woodlands Gathering Cup – 2 to 5 August

Organised by the Éire Óg GAA club, this competition is being held in conjunction with the Loughlynn Music Festival. Teams of seven from outside Ireland with at least one former Éire Óg player are invited to come to Co Roscommon to compete in this fun weekend-long event. Not only is it a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, but it also includes a trip to the All-Ireland Quarter Finals in Croke Park. View details

8. Boyle Horse and Summer Show – 25 August

For the first time in 30 years, this show jumping festival is back, bringing the return of the good old days when the Olde Agricultural Show was an essential part of life in Boyle. Expats from Boyle living around the world are invited to come home, get together and enjoy a day of show jumping, arts and crafts, baking competitions, fancy dress, pony rides and more. The event promises to be a fun day out for the whole family. View details

9. Roscommon Genealogy Gathering – 16 to 20 September

Dig into your Roscommon roots during this five-day gathering aimed at people whose ancestors hailed from the county. Not only will you be able to walk on the same land as your forefathers, but you’ll also be able to enjoy talks about genealogy and history in Roscommon. There will also be assistance regarding family research and organized tours of the region so visitors can get to know it better. View details

10. Global Golfers Gathering – 30 September

If you’d like to tee off for 18 holes in Co Roscommon, head to Carrick on Shannon Golf Club this summer. This century-old club is inviting its members, past and present, to come home and reunite. The Global Golfers Challenge will take place throughout the summer, and golfers and golf societies from around the world are encouraged to participate. The competition concludes on 30 September with the presentation of the awards. View details