Unfortunately for us, the castle actually stopped opening a few days before our visit to Roscrea, so all I have are a couple of photos from outside and a Heritage Ireland website to show me what I missed.
Rosemary square. Roscrea.
Rosemary square and Rosemary street that leads to it were probably after one of the daughters of The Damer family who built the Queen Anne house inside the courtyard of Roscrea castle. The square houses a fine fountain now, where once the county cattle fair and various circuses took place. This fountain stood originally a few hundred yards north at Market square where Main street arrives. When the water is running there are four cherubs, or angels, pouring water from jars with three storks above.
St. Cronan's monastery and church, Roscrea.
This is the other St. Cronans, not far from the centre of town on the Dublin road and easily walkable in a few minutes. The church itself dates from 1812, but the entranceway through which you must pass is all that is left of the 12th c monastery, itself rebuilt on the wooden building of St. Cronan. On the other side of the road is a round tower some 20 metres high, but missing some 6 metres after being shot down by cannon fire in 1798. This is the oldest monument standing in Roscrea today being 10th c.
Just to the right of the entrance to the graveyard is an exact replica of the Roscrea High Cross, itself well-weathered and looking the part. The original cross along with the Roscrea pillar is now housed in the Black Mills centre, just behind the round tower, and was moved there in 2004. This one dates back to the 12th c and at 3 metres is slightly higher than the replica across the road.
It seems that the centre is open from 10.00 - 17.00 every day until the end of October, but it certainly wasn't when we were there, although that was a Sunday.
St Cronan's catholic church. Roscrea.
After walking under the belfry of the Franciscan friary, a path leads south to St. Cronan"s catholic church. As St. Cronan is deemed to be the founder of Roscrea, probably in the 7th c, both sets of religions have laid claim to the name, as just on the way out of town there is the St. Cronan's church of Ireland cathedral.
Between the friary and the church you cross the Bunnow river. This river has the distinction of being called by 3 different names in a few hundred metres. Known as the Moneen upon entering Roscrea, as the Mall river upon making its way through town and then as it arrives here below Convent Hill it becomes the Bunnow.....The church was originally opened in 1855 but only had its roof put on 12 years later. The cemetery close by on a steep hill has many Celtic crosses and once was the site of the Roscrea pillar, now in the Black Mills centre in Roscrea. 15 metres in front of the church is a sundial dating also from 1867.
Roscrea Franciscan friary.
Just round the corner from Rosemary square is Abbey street which takes you to the Franciscan Abbey, to be exact, the ruins of it although the belfry is still in use. The Friary is built on the emplacement of a former building that was destroyed by the Friars in revolt and dates from around 1480/90. The belfry and this north wall are about the only original parts still standing. In the north wall can be seen various pieces that have been cemented into the wall and have come from the cloister that stood on the other side to the south.
I stumbled on this place accidentally while having a wander and waiting for my dad and step-ma to come out from mass. I only had about 20 minutes to have a quick look around, but for a student ticket of 1.30 euro I thought it was worth it.
The complex is made up of a 13th century castle, the grounds of which house a Queen Anne style building called Damer House.
Much of the castle was closed when I visited as ongoing repair and conservation works are being carried out. However, it's worth popping in for a wander about and if you're there in summer, checking out the garden out back, a pretty little enclosed haven of flowers box hedges.
Adult 3.70 euro
Student/Child 1.30 euro
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Located inside the grounds of Roscrea Castle, your ticket will cover entry to Damer House, a Queen Anne style building built in 1722 with local rubble sandstone.
The house has had a varied past, as a private residence until 1798, then a military barracks before becoming a boy's school in 1906.By 1932 the building had become the Technical School.
The building narrowly escaped demolition in the 1970's and has since been well restored, acting as a museum for all manner of things local. There are a number of rooms with exhibits in them but many of them were closed while I was there as part of the ongoing restoration work.
One of the prettiest things about it are the restored Oregon Red Pine hand carved staircase. At the top of the stairs you'll find a chequer-board effect that I rather liked.
On a personal note, I was glad to have seen this building as my step-mother came here when it was the Technical School. She had home economics here, although I'm told that it was a little more up to date than the room represented in one of my pics!
- Historical Travel
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World's Oldest Butter
Titter ye not!
This must be one of the most memorable things I've seen in Ireland, or potentially ever... (Although the Stamp Museum in Budapest could rival this one for general wierdness...)
In Damer House, in the grounds of Roscrea Castle, you'll find a great round slab of some chalky looking stone. Except it isn't stone. This is the world's oldest piece of butter!
Discovered preserved in local bog land in 1987, it was first thought to be a very old piece of cheese, but tests later showed that this was in fact butter, dating back to about 990AD.
I thought this was just so odd that I texted a friend to tell him my discovery. I actually got a text back asking me if I'd perhaps meant something else than, well, butter. This makes me want to see The Holy Stone of Clonrichert that Father Ted once spoke of. You couldn't make it up...
- Museum Visits
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Walk in the Park
Glebe Park in Roscrea has very recently undergone renovation and is much improved.
If you are in Roscrea and have kids, this is a great place. It's small but has a nice playground manufactured by a local company! :)
The River Moneen runs alongside the park so you can take a seat and watch the river, and the world, go by. If you are spending a day in town, it's also the most suitable place in the town for a picnic. There is a supermarket across the road for emergency supplies or sweets for the tots.
Basically, if you are in town, give the park a visit and just relax.
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