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Rindoon peninsula, Lecarrow, County Roscommon, Ireland

Warren Point looped walk of Rinn Dúin

Explore the magic of this enchanted peninsula by the banks of the Shannon.

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.0 miles / 3.2 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
 
Overview: Rindoon, or Rinn Dúin in Irish, is where you can follow one of the the most enchanting looped walks in Ireland, past a castle, a church, a windmill, a hospital, bee boles, new born lambs as well as the Shannon lapping against the shore. With a hidden bluebell wood further on, numerous fairy trees, this is a very special area where heritage, nature and magic blend in to an unforgettable day's walking.

This guide is indebted to Eamonn and Mary Gleeson, proprietors of Gleeson's Townhouse & Restaurant in Roscommon town for bringing this Guide to life - no trip to the county is complete without stopping by them in Market Square. Also to Richard & Liz Collins, proprietors of St. John's House B&B and P.J. Grady for generously allowing people cross their respective lands on this walk.

If staying in Roscommon or Athlone, why not prepare a picnic and cycle the 10 miles out to Rindoon, heading along the N61 and turning off at Lecarrow. Gleeson's in Roscommon will be happy to oblige with both! Take note of Coffey's legendary pub on your right for later and also the Lecarrow canoe club on your left in the village.

Large parts of the looped walk are part of a working farm, so please bear that in mind when taking your dog with you and needless to say, if you must open a gate, remember to close it. Other than that, enjoy yourself - you are exploring a really special part of Ireland.

December 2012: Look out for the new South Roscommon Heritage Trail - see the link to it in the Nearby Guides section on the left hand column.


Tips: Distance : 3km/1hr-1hr 30mins
Terrain : Woodland Track, green path
Ascent : 40m/10m
Grade : Easy - to suit all levels of fitness
Trailhead : St John's House, Lecarrow, County Roscommon, Ireland
Minimum Gear : Hiking Boots, raingear, fluid and mobile phone
Also bring binoculars and a picnic if good weather is forecast.
Services : Lecarrow (3km), Athlone (16km)

The guide is offered subject to acceptance of the Licence Agreement, which is linked on the right hand column of this page. If you are downloading, we recommend the use of the EveryTrail Pro app, which allows for offline map usage of the guide.

Points of Interest

Parking
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Starting point of walk

Park your car or bike here and familiarize yourself with the signage - or ask at Gleeson's beforehand, if staying in Roscommon.

Follow the green and blue arrow through the gate to St John�s House B&B. Needless to say please close the gate and note that there may be a bull in the field on the right, so easy on the red when dressing! The blue arrows are for the longer Warren Point Loop - a must see walk in early May for the bluebells.

Continue along the sand roadway for 200m to reach a Y-junction at St John�s House. You will be rejoining this same point from the left on the return section. For now, veer right past St. John's and follow the sand roadway for 500m to reach the old Town Wall.
Audio
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Rindoon welcome
Hotel
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St. John's Bed and Breakfast

After St John's, you will pass a farm on your left and then through a gateway. Follow the grassy roadway to reach another gateway at a stone wall. Turn right at the gate and follow the wall for 40m to reach a stile on your left - cross it and follow the green and blue arrows along a boundary stone wall on the shoreline of Carrownure Bay. After 300m you reach the ruins of Rinn Dúin Church on your left. The shorter green loop turns left here towards the church, but we're carrying on with the blue loop as it heads out to Warren Point.
Junction
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Rush hour in Rinn Dúin

Come April, there'll be plenty of sheep with new born lambs - don't get too close and needless to say, please ensure you close all gates that you use along the way.

The peninsula is a working farm in large parts, so please bear that in mind while on your travels around it with your own animals.
Building
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Rinn Duin wall

To your left, you will get a view of Rinn Duin wall - further details of this mighty structure will be on a noticeboard on the far side, but feel free to have a look at some of the restoration work that has taken place at one of the towers.

The Rindoon Foundation website informs that:

'In the 65 years it took the Normans to subdue Connaght, a number of measures were taken, including the construction of castles to defend and hold territory as part of this strategy in 1227 a castle was built during the initial subjugation of Connaght during the campaign of Richard de Burgo.

Rindoon was one of a string of Royal Castles along the Shannon and is situated halfway between the towns of Athlone and Roscommon. It was assigned to the Knights Hospitallers.

The village is behind a fortified wall, twenty feet high and five hundred meters long with towers and gates across the whole peninsula, cutting it off from the mainland. The deserted village consists of a Castle, a hospital building, a church and substantial windmill. There are also the remains of several houses. These ruins are most impressively seen from Lough Ree, however from the landward side the town walls make a big impression.
map

Lough Ree

Lough Ree (Irish: Loch Rí or Loch Ríbh) is the second of the three major lakes on the River Shannon. The other two major lakes are Lough Allen to the north, and Lough Derg to the south, there are also several minor lakes along the length of the river.

The lake serves as a border between the counties of Longford and Westmeath (both in the province of Leinster) on the eastern side and County Roscommon in the province of Connacht on the western side. The lake is popular for fishing and boating. The lake supports a small commercial eel fishery and is locally famous for its eels on wheels truck. The town of Athlone is situated at the southern end of the lake, and has a harbour for boats going out on the lake. The small town of Lanesboro is at the northern end of the lake.

The island of Inchcleraun (Inis Cloithreann) in the northern part of the lake is the site of a monastery founded in the early Christian era and contains the remains of several ancient churches. In Irish legends, it was on this island that Queen Maeve was killed. The Viking Turgesius controlled a ringfort on the shores until his death by drowning in Lough Owel.

Families lived on some of the islands in Lough Ree up until the 1950s, when they were rehoused ashore. Like several other Irish loughs, Lough Ree has been the scene of claimed sightings of a lake monster over the years so keep those binoculars at the ready!
Landmark
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Rinn Dúin church

The Rinn Dúin castle green looped walk turns left here by Rinn Dúin church. There's a notice board prepared by the St John's Parish Heritage Group from which to find out more about this edifice.
Audio
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Church
Water
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Shallow bay

When castle-bound sailors could not land at Safe Harbour, they would land here instead.
Viewpoint
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Start of Rinn Dúin wood

Rinn Dúin wood is part of the Lough Ree Special
Area of Conservation.

Although small in size, it is of very high nature
conservation value being an old woodland, which is
a rare ecosystem in Ireland. Ash, Hazel and Oak are
the commonest trees. Historical records show that it
has been in existence since at least AD 1600 and
probably was managed when the castle was occupied.
Viewpoint
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Bluebells galore

The early part of the month of May is the time to visit the wood to see the bluebells and other spring-flowering plants, such as primroses, wood anemones, early purple orchids, etc.
Animals/Wildlife
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Woodland wonderland

Rinn Dúin peninsula has a wide abundance of wildlife. The woodland is used by foxes, pine martens, badgers, sparrow hawks, kestrels and many song-birds.
Audio
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Woodland wonderland
Animals/Wildlife
map

Lough Ree birds

Lough Ree is famous for its wide variety of birds. Breeding species include Mute swan, Moorhen, Coot, Water Rail, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Tufted Duck, waders such as Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew, Redshank, gulls such as Black-Headed, Common and Lesser Black-Backed Gulls. Rare breeding species are the Common Tern and Common Scoter.

The wetland hosts a large number of wintering birds such as Whooper Swan,
Greenland White-Fronted Geese, Wigeon, Pochard, Teal, Goldeneye, Golden Plovers, etc. Hares, swallows, swifts, pheasants, many butterflies etc. use the
open areas. There have been sightings recently of Merlins and little Egrets.
Audio
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Birdsong
map

Wandering northwards

We'll be starting to head back north - out ahead of you some three hundred metres or so is the border line for the province of Leinster.

This seems a good time to offer you a famous poem by Yeats as you travel through the woods and by the water - 'The Song of Wandering Aengus'.
Audio
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The Song of Wandering Aengus
Landmark
map

Old windmill

Earliest mention of a windmill at Rinn Dúin was recorded in 1273 when 45 shillings was paid to Richard le Charpentier for steel to construct the mill. In 1636, maps in the Books of Survey and Distribution show a windmill on the Rinn Dúin promontory. Surviving remains consist of a cylindrical stone tower set on top of a round mound, surrounded by a ditch with an external bank.

The cylindrical tower is of three floors and survives to its original height. The tower is of the seventeenth century type but the mound on which it is built may have formed a part of the medieval mill which was used for grinding local grain crops. All local tenants would have been required by the landlord of the time to use this mill for grinding their grains.
Audio
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Windmill
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Old windmill
Landmark
map

Rinn Dúin castle

The earliest part of the castle is the keep identified with the stone castle constructed by Geoffrey de Marisco in 1227. The castle consists of a curtain wall with a rectangular extension on the south-west. It is entered through a gatehouse on the north, which is overlooked by the keep to the east. In the sixteenth century, broken down parts of the wall were rebuilt to include plain rectangular gun loops. The masonry is of coursed limestone with limestone quoins.
In 1605-6 it was granted to Edward Crofton as 'the monastery of St. John the Baptist, alias the Crotched Friars' � a slated church, belfry, cloister and all other buildings, gardens � 6 waste cottages in the town of St. John's' indicating that the town had ceased to function and the site was then simply an estate.

Since the decline of the site in the seventeenth century, the peninsula has returned to pasture and today the remains of the castle, harbour, town wall, two ecclesiastic sites and windmill lay in farmland. Historic structures on the peninsula are undergoing a phased program of conservation and should not be entered or interfered with.
Audio
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Castle
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Rindoon castle
Information
map

Rinn Dúin castle noticeboard

St. John's Parish Heritage group's noticeboard tells you about this historic castle.
Water
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Rinn Dúin Safe Harbour noticeboard

Safe Harbour was the main landing point for the castle. The St. John's Parish Heritage Group tell you some more about it on the noticeboard.
Audio
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Safe harbour
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Safe harbour update
Viewpoint
map

Fairy trees a plenty

After Rinn Dúin castle, there's a whole host of hawthorn bushes to negotiate your way through to continue the journey. There are plenty of waymarked signs to show you the looped walk home.

The hawthorn is commonly regarded as a fairy tree where faeries congregate at night. So evocative is this stretch, we've decided to indulge you with a humorous song above a fairy as you walk along.

The theme of fairy folk found among the Celtic nations describes a race of diminutive people who had been driven into hiding by invading humans. They came to be seen as another race, or possibly spirits, and were believed to live in an Otherworld that was variously described as existing underground, in hidden hills (many of which were ancient burial mounds), or across the Western Sea.

In old Celtic fairy lore the sidhe (fairy folk) are immortals living in the ancient barrows and cairns. The Tuatha de Danaan are associated with several Otherworld realms including Mag Mell (the Pleasant Plain), Emain Ablach (the Fortress of Apples or the Land of Promise or the Isle of Women), and the Tir na nÓg (the Land of Youth).
Audio
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Fairy
map

Pathway to Lough Ree

Make your way through the pathway back to the water. You'll be turning left by the water and walking parallel to the water for a few hundred metres.
Viewpoint
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The Shannon river

Unlike the walk down from St. John's, you'll have noticed the preponderance of trees and bushes along the route back, many of which will have been shaped by the winds blowing in from the Shannon.

The River Shannon is the principal river of Ireland. 240 mi. (386 km) long flowing SW from Northern Ireland to the Atlantic. The River Shannon presumably refers to the Goddess associated with the river, "Sionna" (pronounced SHAN-nen). This Irish goddess sought out the hazelnuts of wisdom which were believed to contain éigse, the spirit and inspiration of poetry. In Celtic mythology, the search for wisdom was usually made by a woman who found it in a river or well. Always, she is changed by the knowledge into a new being; a goddess.

There are several Irish legends accounting for the name Shannon. A well called Connla's Well existed under the sea that was filled with fish and either hazel or rowan trees, depending on which legend you are reading, dropped their nuts or berries, depending again on the legend, into the well. The salmon that ate the nuts or the berries were thought to gain great knowledge and wisdom. This made the fish very desirable and fishermen worked very hard to get and catch these.

Women were not allowed to eat these so-called "fish of knowledge or wisdom." However, a brave rebel female named Shannon (spelled Sionnain in Gaelic), who some say is the daughter of the moon, ignored this rule and caught and ate one of the fish. Immediately upon this infraction, the well water rose up and carried Shannon to the Atlantic Ocean, creating the River Shannon.
Information
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Noticeboard for Rinn Duin wall

Audio
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Wall
Landmark
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East side of Rinn Dúin wall

Please feel free to inspect the wall, but note that is is currently being restored so best not to get too close.
map

Turn left to return to St. John's B&B

Although the magnificent St John's Wood is only some 400 metres from you at this point, it is not possible to continue on to it from here and you will need to follow the way marks to the left. The good news is that once back at the car park, you will be able to continue up the road where you parked to get to this famous wood, believed to be one of the oldest natural woods in Europe. It is well worth a visit and plenty of noticeboards will help you find out more about it and its inhabitants.
Animals/Wildlife
map

Sheep pasture

At the right time of year (april and May), you'll find this field is where many young lambs are frollicing. It's a wonderful sight, but don't spoil it by getting too close to them, lest their mother let you know who knows best!
Information
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The curious case of the buried leg

Richard knows some interesting facts about the area. As you approach the two cemeteries (the Protestant one is part of the old hospital) hear the story of the leg that is buried nearby.
Audio
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Curious case
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The buried leg
Landmark
map

Old hospital & cemetery

There may be older unmarked graves in Ireland, but this grave has just been verified as dating from 1532 - you would need to go over the markings with greaseproof paper and some charcoal, but take Richard's word for it!
Audio
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Hospital
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Oldest marked grave
Junction
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Rejoining point of looped walk

You'll be passing by St. John's B&B on your left here and following the road some 200m back to where you parked. Why not spoil yourself with a drive up to Roscommon and lunch in Gleeson's Townhouse and Restaurant on Market Square? Call them on 090 6626954 or just turn up!
Audio
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Rinn Duin finale
Pictures in this guide taken by: navigatourist

Warren Point looped walk of Rinn Dúin Map


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