For the first 25 years of my life, I hardly knew Roscommon Town at all. Over the following 25 years (and more) I came to love it. Effortlessly…
Growing up in Rooskey, we considered Longford to be the ‘go to’ big town. Back in the 1970’s and ‘80’s, Longford’s Main Street was thriving. The town always seemed to have a great atmosphere. Woods’ colourful, hypnotic shop on Main Street was a delight all year, but especially at Christmas. It was filled with tantalising toys, with wonder…even Santa always paid a visit!
These days, most ‘high streets’ are changing…much of the shopping focus has switched to multinationals in business parks. The shadow of the superstores looms large! I kind of begrudge them their burgeoning domination of commercial life here (though they do provide substantial employment). We need to support home-grown SMEs. But I digress.
Now, the growth in recent years of online shopping is itself accelerated by the pandemic. The changing face of shopping is such a huge challenge to our traditional main streets, we have no option but to think creatively, embrace the change and reimagine our town and city centres. I digress (again).
It was only when my family moved to Strokestown (1985) that I began to discover Roscommon Town. I’d been to a few memorable Connacht finals in the Hyde, but I didn’t know the town. Now, I experienced the cultural revelation that involved six or seven hefty young men squeezing into a battered car and horsing up the road to Rockford’s most weekends. But I digress, again.
In 1988, I began working in Roscommon Town (at the Roscommon Champion, then based in Church Street). 32 years on, I never take for granted the town’s friendliness, beauty, character, and the quality of life it offers. It’s easy to love it.
Contours of a town
Think of the contours of the town, of what we see as our community ebbs and flows into each new day, new week, new year.
Abbey Street, with its fine character-filled buildings, winding into Church Street. The familiar turn into Main Street, brimming with friendly faces and familiar shop fronts. The Square, with its sense of history, of rolling centuries, of generations past.
Volunteers erecting Christmas lights. The apparatus of another lamb festival being set up. The distinctive atmosphere and friendliness and heritage of each street, each with their own history.
Our smaller churches are beautiful buildings, always to be admired. The main church, the catholic Sacred Heart Church, is magnificent; frequently stopping tourists as they marvel at its beauty and reach for their cameras/phones.
This is a town that easily extends itself to meet social and sporting needs, to maintain and grow its position as a thriving town in the heart of Ireland…we have a top golf course, Hyde Park, Roscommon Gaels’ excellent facilities in Lisnamult, further sporting amenities including the community sports park, state-of-the-art schools, the beauty and serenity of Loughnaneane Park, the wonderful Mote Park nearby. There is too the sense of history…of historic buildings, fine archictecture, the whispers of an epic past.
Roscommon’s great range of shops, hospitality outlets, service providers, etc. – so many of them deeply bruised by this pandemic, and restricted trade-wise at the present time – are the beating heart of the town’s commercial life.
Ultimately, it’s people who make the town. We should never take this town for granted. The warmth of the people is the key to the great quality of life here. Roscommon, our county town, is a great town. We are privileged to live here!
As part of the Roscommon People/Roscommon Chamber #RoscommonTogether campaign, readers are invited to submit ‘Town Thoughts’ for consideration for publication. Maybe a maximum of 500 words or so…you can email firstname.lastname@example.org