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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 Duin 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 Richard & Liz Collins, proprietors of St. John's House and to P.J. Grady for generously allowing people cross their lands on this walk. A note for anyone who may have done the walk in the past; as of Spring 2014, the walk is now going clockwise - this has been factored into this tour. 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. Gleesons 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. Do you geocache? Go to www.geocaching.com to find out some clues about the caches that are buried down in Rindoon!

UPDATES: Look out for the new South Roscommon Heritage Trail - see the link to it in the Nearby Guides section on the left hand column. Both this new trail and the Rindoon walk are two of the tours from the comprehensive Roscommon App - download it for free today: http://www.roscommonapp.com


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

There are some parking spaces for walkers at the start of these two looped waymarked ways. Have a look at the helpful signage to decide which one you wish to do. We have decided to do the longer and more picturesque walk for the purpose of this guide, known as the Warren looped walk, which takes you through the bluebell forest and right to the tip if this peninsula.

For those staying in St. John's House B&B, come through the gate and park in the Collins' ample car park some 100m up ahead.
Audio
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Rindoon welcome
Hotel
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Turn left at St. John's Bed and Breakfast

Liz and Richard Collins run St John's House, a highly-regarded Georgian guesthouse on the shores of Lough Ree. With a stellar rating on Trip Advisor and marked out as a 'hidden gem' by travel writer Georgina Campbell, this is a great place to base yourself in the area.

At the walls of St John's, you will be turning left for both the green and blue looped walks of the peninsula. Your first stop is just beyond the garden of St. John;s House and is on your right. As you will have seen at the far iron gate, beware of the bull, which may be in the field on your left - consider yourself duly warned!
Landmark
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Approaching the old hospital

Having turned right after the garden walls, you are currently located to the rear of St John's House. Ensure you spend plenty of time here to explore the Bee Boles and the ancient graveyards. Once finished, you will be carrying on east and away from the house - look out for the marked arrows to guide you along.

In front of you are the ruins of an old hospital that predates the walled town. It was founded in 1216 by King John and Philip d'Angelo and was run by Augustinian friars but by 1487, it had insufficient revenue to continue to operate

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
Landmark
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Oldest marked grave in Ireland

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!
Information
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The curious case of the buried leg

Richard knows some interesting facts about the area courtesy of his neighbours, such as Sean Grady, heard here on the audio piece and seen in the picture. As you approach the two cemeteries (the Protestant one is part of the old hospital) you can choose to hear Richard in conversation with Sean, the second cousin of Willy Grady whose leg is buried here (but his body is buried in Aughrim in Carrick-on-Shannon). Alternatively, you can view the YouTube video of the curious case of the leg that is buried nearby.
Audio
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Curious case
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The buried leg
Animals/Wildlife
map

Approaching the lough

Get ready to turn right here following the waymarked signs to get you down towards the castle. Along the way, Richard tells us about some unusual lodgers that stay at St. John's from time to time.
Animals/Wildlife
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St. John's Wood

Stop and when facing the lough, look left - In the distance is St. John's Wood which is the oldest oak woods in Europe as you'll hear in the audio piece. Unfortunately, you cannot access it by simply keeping by the shore. Instead, you will need to get back to the starting point of this Trail and turn right once you exit the main gate of St. John's House.

It is well worth a visit and plenty of noticeboards will help you find out more about it and its inhabitants. The audio piece comes from local guide Dr. Regina Donlin who is a qualified guide for this Trail and St. John's Wood. Why not make the most of your visit to the peninsula by booking her for a guided tour of each attraction? Her contact details are +353879414728 and reginadonlin@gmail.com.
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.
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.
map

Pathway to Lough Ree

The long stretch along the lough is coming to an end - get ready to make your way through fairy trees following the waymrked signs.
Viewpoint
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Fairy trees a plenty

Before 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
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
Information
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Rinn Dúin castle noticeboard

St. John's Parish Heritage group's noticeboard tells you about this historic castle.
Landmark
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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
Landmark
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Old windmill

After the castle, you'll be making your way to the windmill. The 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
map

Wandering south

We're still heading south - 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
Animals/Wildlife
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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
Animals/Wildlife
map

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
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.
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.
Water
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Shallow bay

When castle-bound sailors could not land at Safe Harbour, they would land here instead.
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
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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!
Building
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Rinn Duin wall

To your right, 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.
Junction
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Rush hour in Rinn Dúin

To your right you will see Grady's farm. Come April, there'll be plenty of sheep with new born lambs - don't get too close and needless to say, please ensure you closed all gates that you used along the way.

After the farm, you will be back at St. John's House where the loop started. If you see Richard or Liz in the garden, let them know you were listening to this tour - we hope you enjoyed it.
Pictures in this guide taken by: navigatourist

Warren Point looped walk of Rinn Dúin Map


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