Dublin to Strokestown Ireland in County Roscommon is about a two hour drive and a good stopping off point between Dublin and Galway. Roscommon is located in Ireland’s Midlands and is a part of Ireland often overlooked by tourists but is a region that is rich in history. For 14 EUR, you can take a guided tour of Strokestown Park House and a self-guided tour of the National Famine Museum and Strokestown Estate's walled garden.
Strokestown Park House HistoryStrokestown Park House is a sombre and educational detour if you plan to spend a weekend in the West of Ireland and then return to Dublin. Before we moved to Ireland, I read the book The Killing of Major Denis Mahon which is a historical account of the murder of an Irish landlord in the context of the Great Irish Famine. I definitely recommend the book -- it gives some detailed history on the devastation that the great potato famine wrought on the Irish people. This relates to our story today in that Mahon owned Strokestown Park House in County Roscommon and the estate now houses the National Famine Museum. We definitely thought it was worth stopping by since we were practically passing through after a weekend in Galway.
Strokestown Park HouseWe arrived amid clouds and rain to Strokestown Park House, an impressive Palladian mansion built in the early 18th century. That said, the architectural style is designed to impress while keeping costs down with a wide sweeping edifice but not so much depth. Strokestown House is not nearly as large as it appears from the outside. The interior decorating was...um...interesting. Stacked antlers on the staircase make quite an impression. Stunned ceramic figurines find a home in the nursery. What’s something that no kitchen should be without? A bucket of leeches! Despite the fact that Strokestown Park House was lived in as a residence until the late 1980s, the original kitchen was discovered and restored behind a wall created in a more modern renovation.
Strokestown Park House GardensThe walled garden on the Strokestown Estate was particularly lovely. The rain had stopped so we took some time to explore. We spotted a scarecrow standing guard over the plots of produce. I took a walk through a greenhouse on the premises filled with colorful flowers. We saw all sorts of produce growing, from apples climbing the stone wall below to giant carrots to lettuce, and more. There were no potatoes planted (at least none that I saw). Perhaps that's not surprising considering the havoc caused by the crop failure in the 1840s. The National Famine Museum located on the grounds of Strokestown Park House was a solemn reminder of the suffering and loss of life that occurred during this dark period of Irish History. I'm glad we were able to visit and better understand the history and circumstances behind the blight.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Interested in visiting more of Ireland's historic homes? Why not consider:
County Roscommon is often overlooked by tourists visiting Ireland but the Midlands are home to some important historical sites and worth a stop, especially if you are exploring Ireland by car.