Despite a turbulent history that saw it turned from Cistercian monastery to military barracks and later besieged, Boyle Abbey is still a beautiful building showing o the skill of medieval stone masons. With its riverside setting, it is a tranquil place in which to wander and gaze at nely-carved stonework that survived the wars of centuries. There is a fascinating exhibition in the restored 16th/17th century gatehouse.
Rathcroghan Visitor Centre
Cruachan or Rathcroghan was the ritual and royal inauguration centre of ancient Connacht. Today there are over 240 archaeological sites, many of them important national monuments, scattered over several kilometres. Rathcroghan Visitor Centre uses models, costumes, armour, weaponry and aerial photographs to explain the history and archaeology of this astonishing area. There are tours within the centre and of the key sites by expert guides.
With its sails standing out against the skyline, Elphin windmill is a striking reminder of how the 18th-century Irish landscape would have looked, just before the agricultural and industrial revolutions. Built in the 1730s to grind corn, it is the oldest, fully restored and working windmill in Ireland and the only one of its kind in the Blueway region.
Red squirrels have appeared again in the woods of Clonalis House. You too should visit this gracious home, which holds heritage and family memorabilia from the last 600 years. The land has been in the family of the O’Conor gaelic chieftains through 66 generations of turbulent Irish history. The family house was rebuilt in 1878 and is a sunny, classical-style building. There are guided tours for day visitors in summer and elegant B&B and self-catering accommodation.
Strokestown Park House
Strokestown Park House is an 18th century mansion that has been faithfully restored. It is unique in that it retains its original furnishings and professionally guided tours allow visitors to experience Georgian Ireland in its purest form. The Famine Museum uses a combination of original documents and images from the Strokestown Park collection to explain circumstances of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s.