County Roscommon

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Not to be confused with Roscommon County, Michigan.
County Roscommon
Contae Ros Comáin
Coat of arms of County Roscommon
Coat of arms
Motto: Constans Hiberniae Cor  (Latin)
"Steadfast Irish heart"
Location of County Roscommon
Country Ireland
Province Connacht
Dáil Éireann Roscommon–South Leitrim
EU Parliament Midlands–North-West
County town Roscommon
 • Type County Council
 • Total 2,548 km2 (984 sq mi)
Area rank 11th
Population (2011) 64,065
 • Rank 27th
Vehicle index
mark code

County Roscommon (Irish: Contae Ros Comáin) is a county in Ireland. It is located in the province of Connacht, and also the West Region. It 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. Roscommon County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 64,065 according to the 2010 census.[1]

Geography and political subdivisions[edit]

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 Connacht’s five counties by size and fourth largest in terms of population. The county borders every other Connacht 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 historical baronies in County Roscommon.

North Roscommon

South Roscommon

History of the Baronies[edit]

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 Connacht. 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[edit]


River Suck at Athleague.

Rathcroghan (Rath Cruachán), near Tulsk, a complex of archaeological sites, the home of Queen Medb (Méadhbh, Maeve), was the seat of Kings of Connacht 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 medieval period. With the conquest and division of the Kingdom of Connacht, 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 Connacht and eventually became the county. In 1585 during the Tudor re-establishment of counties under the Composition of Connacht, Roscommon was established with the South-west boundary now along the River Suck.

Ordnance survey[edit]

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'.[13][14]

The River Shannon running through Athlone town.

Government and politics[edit]

Roscommon is governed locally by the 26 member Roscommon County Council.

For general elections, Roscommon forms part of the three seat Roscommon-South Leitrim constituency.



County Roscommon is twinned with Tucson, Arizona, United States and Castle Point, Essex, England.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Census 2011 - County Roscommon Overview
  2. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  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. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865.
  8. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  12. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  13. ^ Hunt, Roy, 'Painful progress: the slow evolution of County Roscommon society, 1850-1914'. Unpublished Thesis, 2010, NUIG p. 8
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ Twinning

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 53°45′N 8°15′W / 53.750°N 8.250°W / 53.750; -8.250