Driving into the small market town of Boyle off the main Dublin to Sligo road you can’t avoid the magnificent eye-catching arches of Boyle Abbey. This beautifully ornate stone structure was built by an order of monks called the Cistercians in 1161. The gatehouse now hosts a visitors centre and guided tours are available and highly recommended. Without the tour you will miss out on much of this fascinating history of the Abbey. Building work progressed on the Abbey up until about 1218. Now this meant that the Abbey incorporated two distinct architectural styles from this period. Consequently, the Abbey has both Romanesque as well as the later Gothic styles of arches. Just over two hours from Dublin by car Boyle Abbey makes the perfect stop off point and a good place to park up and stretch your legs for a while.
History of the Abbey
The Abbey enjoyed a period of prosperity and notoriety up until 1592 when the British military forces took over the Abbey and converted it into an Army Barracks. Considerable damage was caused at this point, and sadly worse was to come. In 1645 a new British invader paid a visit. Oliver Cromwell sacked the Abbey and put the remaining monks to death. The Abbey remained in ruins and it defeated the locals attempts at the time to restore it.
Other Attractions Nearby
Boyle Abbey in Roscommon is now a heritage site. Having been preserved for visitors, it’s proved to be a popular attraction bringing people from near and far to the town of Boyle. But it’s not the only attraction by far.
Lough Key Forest Park
The nearby Lough Key Forest Park on the shores of this beautiful island studded lake, boasts a magnificent 850 acres. It’s just a short 3.5Km walk from the Abbey. If you have children or teenagers, they will enjoy the zip-wire, or you can hire bicycles to explore the park. If you’re feeling less energetic you might enjoy a tour of the park on a Segway. For those of you who enjoy a more leisurely break Lough Key offers the angler a fishing paradise. Lake boats are available for hire in the park either for fishing or just to row about and maybe explore the entrancing Castle Island a few hundred meters off the shore.
King House in Boyle Town Centre was once the home of the King family and it’s a must see in the area. The dramatic history of this 18th century mansion will have you amazed, and after the visit you can enjoy a snack in the cafe. It’s the ideal setting to sit back and take in all the history that surrounds you. There is also a farmer’s market held in the grounds of King House every Saturday and it all adds to the atmosphere of this fine old country house.
So where to stay and eat around Boyle?
There is lots of accommodation to suit all budgets in the locality. From the camping and caravan park within Lough Key Forest Park itself to the more pampering Lough Allen Hotel and Spa near the village of Drumshanbo. The town of Boyle has a several Bed & Breakfast establishments where you’re assured of a warm and friendly welcome. Clark’s Bar on St Patrick’s Street in Boyle town is well worth a visit if it’s good food you’re after or you may be tempted by Drumanilra Farm Kitchen on Elphin Street which has built a reputation on its home grown produce all served in cozy and friendly environment.
This blog was written by Harry from Roscommon
I have two grown-up boys and a wonderful wife. Spent most of my younger years in the Army serving in Lebanon, Israel and Iraq. I then spent a few years on our boat in France cruising the French waterways before moving to Belfast where we lived for the next three years. Now we live in Roscommon and spend as much time on the River Shannon as we possibly can.
Get your Scratchable Map Ireland here.