Strokestown Park House &
Roscommon is more known for being a transit county en-route to the blockbuster stuff on the west coast. The flat farming lands of the Irish Midlands pass by the window and the only real clues that you were ever in it were the Fáilte go and Slan go foill signs as you enter and leave. This is perhaps a little harsh as there are worthy stops in the county with one main being the multi-faceted Strokestown House, Gardens and Famine Museum.
A thoughtful and enlightening aspect of a holiday – not every holiday mind – can be to learn about and pay respect to the darker sides of a country’s history. Standing out in the country’s often long and tragic history, the potato famines of the nineteenth century are to Ireland what the concentrations camps are to Germany and Poland and the Killing Fields to Cambodia. They now also have their museums and memorials and at Strokestown Park stands the National Famine Museum, a compact but enlightening look at the historical narrative and the personal tales of an event that killed over one million and forced one million to emigrate. This is a very interesting museum that’s brief and to the point and the many written artifacts give an interesting insight into class during the famine.
Probably the one down side to Strokestown is that you don't necessarily need to go to the National Famine Museum to learn about the Irish famine. There are many other more accessible places in Ireland that dedicate either a whole or part of their site to this topic, such as the Epic Ireland Museum of Emigration in Dublin, Cobh Heritage Centre and Dunbrody Famine Ship in County Wexford.
Also onsite at Strokestown is an attractive Georgian Palladian mansion full of the usual stately home trappings which can be explored with a tour. Outside there are is beautifully restored walled garden and a woodland walk – who doesn’t like a walk in the woods? All this is secondary to the famine museum but gives you add a bit more substance and purpose to this stop on your trip.