As a County, we are extremely proud of our people. We are so lucky to have people from our county who have succeeded in their chosen field over many generations.

We would love to hear if you think there are more people who we should feature on our site who have strong Roscommon Connections. Email on if you have some ideas on who else we should consider for inclusion.

Dermot Earley

Lieutenant-General Dermot Earley DSM (24 February 1948 – 23 June 2010) was a famous Roscommon person both on and off the field.

He remains one of the most famous Roscommon footballers of all time as well as reaching the highest level within the Irish army. He was the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces from 2007 to 2010. Dermot Earley went to Gortaganny NS and St Nathy’s College in Ballaghaderreen. His army service record included many overseas missions including with UNTSO in 1975. While serving with the UN up to 1991 he was a member of negotiating teams dealing with the Iraqis and Kuwaitis, and was a key adviser during the setting up of the UN’s mission in Kuwait – Unikom. He was involved in negotiating an end to the Angolan civil war.

In 1994/95 he helped establish the United Nations Training School Ireland (UNTSI) in the Military College. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1995. He commanded the 27 Infantry Battalion on the Irish border. He served as deputy military adviser to UN secretary general Javier Perez de Cuellar and Battalion Commander of the 81st Infantry Battalion UNIFIL in 1997. He was promoted to Colonel in 2001.

In December 2003 he was made Brigadier General and was appointed Major General in March 2004 when he received his final appointment. He became chief of staff in April 2007, leading the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service. On 18 April 2010 Dermot Earley indicated he would retire from the Defence Forces due to ill health. Lt Gen Earley was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal with Honour from the Taoiseach. Lt Gen Dermot Earley died of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) on 23 June 2010.

Dermot Earley first played senior football for Roscommon in 1965 at just 17 years of age. In 1970, Earley lined out in his first senior provincial decider against Galway. Two years later in 1972 Roscommon were back in the Connacht final against Mayo. An eight-goal thriller had supporters on the edge of their seats as Roscommon took their first provincial title in ten years on a score line of 5–8 to 3–10. It was Earley’s first Connacht senior title. Roscommon’s next game was an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with football kingpins Kerry which didn’t end as well when the men from ‘the Kingdom’ won by 1–22 to 1–12. After a few losses in the provincial championship, a new-look Roscommon team took the provincial championship by storm in 1977 beating Galway by 1–12 to 2–8 to give him a second Connacht winners’ medal. Roscommon subsequently faced Armagh in an All-Ireland semi-final. Like a lot of Roscommon’s other games in previous years, a close contest developed over the seventy minutes. In the end, both sides finished level and a replay was required. That second game was also extremely close, however, Armagh emerged by just a single point.

The Connacht series of games provided little difficulty for Earley’s side again in 1978. Galway once again provided the opposition, however, Roscommon triumphed by 2–7 to 0–9. It was Earley’s third Connacht title. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final pitted ‘the Rossies’ against reigning champions Kerry. That game turned into a rout as the Munstermen won by 3–11 to 0–8. Roscommon made it three Connacht titles in-a-row in 1979 beating Mayo by 3–15 to 2–10. It was Earley’s fourth provincial winners’ medal.

For the third year in-a-row ‘the Rossies’ embarked on the All-Ireland series in the hope of finally making the final. Dublin were the opponents, however, Earley and his teammates faced heartbreak once again as they were defeated by a single point. In spite of failing to make the leap into the All-Ireland final, Earley was later presented with a second All-Star award.

1980 was a pivotal year for Earley’s Roscommon team. A fourth Connacht title in succession was claimed following a 3–13 to 0–8 trouncing of Mayo. It was a fifth provincial winners’ medal for Earley. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Roscommon finally triumph and, after that defeat of Armagh, Earley lined out in the All-Ireland final against Kerry. The Connacht champions shocked Kerry and took a five-point lead inside the first twelve minutes. Mikey Sheehy popped up to score the decisive goal for ‘the Kingdom’, as Kerry went on to claim a 1–9 to 1–6 victory in a game that contained sixty-four frees. It was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Earley’s side while Kerry took their third consecutive All-Ireland title. This defeat seemed to take the wind out of Roscommon’s sails.

The early 1980s was an unhappy period for the team as they failed to even reach a provincial decider. In 1985 Earley sustained a fractured jaw in the Connacht semi-final against Galway. When he was leaving the field the entire 12,000 spectators gave him a standing ovation as many thought that would be his farewell to football. Earley confounded everybody and lined out in the Connacht final against Mayo two weeks later. In spite of kicking six points, Mayo still triumphed by 2–11 to 0–8. At the age of thirty-seven he decided to retire from inter-county football. Dermot Earley later went on to manage the Roscommon senior team from 1992-1994 and remained an avid supporter of all things Roscommon.

Check out his speech in New York in 2006.

Douglas Hyde

Dubhglas de Híde (Douglas Hyde) (nom de plume “An Craoibhin Aoibhinn”) was the first President of Ireland from 25 June, 1938 to 24 June, 1945.

He was born on 17 January 1860, in Castlerea and grew up in Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon. He was home schooled. While a young man, he became fascinated with hearing the old people in the locality speak the Irish language. He was influenced in particular by the gamekeeper Seamus Hart and his friend’s wife, Mrs. Connolly which fostered his life-long interest in the Irish language. Between 1879 and 1884, he published more than a hundred pieces of Irish verse under the pen name “An Craoibhín Aoibhinn” (“The Pleasant Little Branch”).

He was Co-founder and First President (1893-1915) of the Gaelic League, the national movement for the revival of the Irish language. He died on 12 July 1949.

His achievements included being:

  • Interim Professor of Modern Languages at the provincial University of New Brunswick, 1891
  • President of Irish National Literary Society, 1894-5
  • President Irish Texts Society; Assist. Editor, New Irish Library, 1897
  • Professor of Modern Irish, University College Dublin, 1909-32: Dean of Celtic Faculty
  • Member of the Senate N.U.I., 1909-19
  • Chairman of the Folklore Institute, 1930-34
  • Editor Lia Fáil, 1925. Member of Seanad Éireann, 1925 & 38

The Douglas Hyde Interpretive Centre in Frenchpark, County Roscommon tells his life story.

Roderic O’Conor

Born in Roscommon, Roderic O’Conor’s work only became more widely known in Ireland in the late 1950s.

Much of O’Conor’s career was spent in Belgium and France. He attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art and the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools. He travelled first to the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Antwerp, and later attended the atelier of Charles Carolus-Duran in Paris. Experimenting with the techniques of impressionism, neo-impressionism, and pointillisme, O’Conor spent time at the artists’ colonies in Grez-sur-Loing and Pont-Aven. In the latter of these, the artist came into contact with the circle of Paul Gauguin (1848 – 1903). The two artists first met in 1894, and became friends. O’Conor exhibited with Gaugin, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Sérusier and the other leading artists at the ‘Exposition des Peintres Impressionistes et Symbolistes’ in the 1890s.

From 1903, O’Conor’s subject matter moved away from the depiction of Breton life to nudes, female figures, portraits and still-lives In 2009, the National Gallery of Ireland acquired an archive of letters and documents relating to O’Conor and his wife Honta, including letters between the couple. Additional items in the collection include letters from Roger Fry and Somerset Maugham, as well as receipts and invoices relating to O’Conor’s own art collection.

In Autumn 2018, the national Gallery of Ireland held an exhibition on his work. The exhibition examined O’Conor’s expressive signature style alongside the portraits, landscapes and still-life works of other Pont-Aven “moderns” including Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauquin, Armand Sequin, Robert Befan, and Cuno Amiet.

Aileen Cust

Aileen Cust was the first female to practice as a veterinary surgeon in Ireland. She practised from Castlestrange, Athleague in County Roscommon.

Aileen Cust was born in 1868 in Cordangan Manor, County Tipperary. The fourth of six children, she enjoyed the outdoors as a child, and when asked about her future she claimed “a vet was my reply ever and always.”

She began training as a nurse at London Hospital, but gave it up to become a veterinary surgeon. Following the death of her father in 1878, her guardian, encouraged her to pursue an education and funded her attendance at William Williams’s New Veterinary College in Edinburgh. As her mother was acting as a Woman of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria, Cust enrolled under the name A.I. Custance to avoid any embarrassment for her family.

She completed her veterinary studies in 1897, winning the gold medal for zoology, but was denied permission to sit the final examination and consequently was not admitted as a member of Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). She challenged this in the Court of Session, seeking to overturn the decision of the RCVS examination committee, but the court declined to rule on the basis that the RCVS was not domiciled in Scotland.

She refrained from legal action in London, perhaps due to the potential cost, or potential social embarrassment to her mother. Cust nevertheless went on to practice in County Roscommon with William Augustine Byrne MRCVS, having received a personal recommendation from William Williams, and lived at Castlestrange near Athleague.

Cust was later appointed as a veterinary inspector by Galway County Council under the Diseases of Animals Acts, an appointment that was denied by the RCVS due to her lack of professional recognition. The post was advertised again, and when Cust was again selected for the post an agreement was reached under which she carried out the duties of the position with an amended title.

Upon the death of Byrne in 1910, Cust took over the veterinary practice. She practised from Fort Lyster House near Athleague. Upon the outbreak of the First World War in 1915, Cust left Ireland to volunteer at the front and appears to have aided in the treatment and care of horses, working with the YMCA from a base near Abbeville.

In 1917 she was appointed to an army bacteriology laboratory which was associated with a veterinary hospital. She is listed as a member of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps from January to November 1918 and it has been suggested that it was her war time work that aided in her acceptance into the RCVS after the war.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in London did not recognise Cust’s right to practice in her own right in Britain until 1922, following the enactment of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919. Given her years of experience, she was only asked to take the oral part of the final examination. On 21 December 1922, the president of the RCVS, Henry Sumner, personally presented Cust with her diploma, and she thus became the first woman to be awarded such a diploma.

William Wilde

William Wilde was born in the parish of Kilkeevin in Castlerea in March 1815.

His father, Thomas Wills Wilde, was a G.P. and is buried in the Holy Trinity Church of Ireland graveyard in Castlerea. He attended school in the Elphin Diocesan School in Elphin. He was a brilliant student and obtained his medical degree from the royal College of Surgeons at the age of 22. Having travelled extensively, he returned and established his own practice in Dublin.

He became the Medical Commissioner for Ireland for the 1841 Census. In 1844, he reopened the old St Mark’s hospital in Dublin, as an Opthalmic hospital and Dispensary for Diseases of the Eye and Ear. It quickly became the only hospital in the United Kingdom teaching aural surgery. In 1845, he became a Fellow of the royal college of Surgeons and also assumed the role as editor of the Dublin Journal of Medical Science. Alongside this he was also a writer.

He wrote extensively on the medical aspects of the Great famine which were published over 4 volumes in the Journal of medical Science. Around this time, he met and married jane Francesca Elgee, a well-known poet who published under the pseudonym “Speranza” (Italian for “hope”). The couple had three children: William, Oscar and Isola. In 1864, William Wilde became Sir William Wilde, the knighthood conferred on him in the Throne Room of Dublin Castle.

Úna Burke

Úna is a native of Boyle, County Roscommon and counts among her clients Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

She started her career making handbags but progressed to making bespoke luxury leather pieces. She specialised in fashion at Limerick School of Art and Design, and gained experience working with her favourite material, leather, at Chesneau Design.

Aside from Lady Gaga, some of her other pieces have been worn by Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Heidi Klum and Madonna, and closer to home, Una Healy and Kathryn Thomas. Pieces also appeared in The Hunger Games films and Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood music video.

Chris O’Dowd

Chris O’Dowd is Boyle native best known for his roles in The IT Crowd, Roman’s Empire and Red Cap and the award-winning documentary-drama The Year London Blew Up.

He has also appeared on Irish television, having starred in the RTÉ One drama The Clinic and the drama Showbands. The Roscommon native is also well renowned for his roles in a number of films. The list of films he has starred in is extensive and includes the following: the 2005 film Festival where he played stand-up comedian Tommy O’Dwyer, a role for which he won a Scottish BAFTA award, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel, Hotel Very Welcome, Hippie Hippie Shake, Dinner for Schmucks, This Is 40, The Sapphires and the internationally loved Bridesmaids.

He co-wrote a series based on his childhood called Moone Boy for Sky 1. Segments of the series, which ran from 2012 to 2015, were filmed in his hometown, Boyle. A book based on the series and also co-written by O’Dowd, Moone Boy: The Blunder Years, was published in May 2015. Subsequent releases include Moone Boy: The Fish Detective, published in October 2015, Moone Boy: The Notion Potion, published in September 2017, as well as an activity book, Moone Boy: The Marvellous Activity Manual, published in May 2017.

A proud supporter of Roscommon at every opportunity, he also played a role in something quite different! He represented Roscommon in Gaelic football at the under-16, minor and under-21 levels, the highlight being his performance as a goalkeeper in the 1997 Connacht Minor final against Mayo.

Joe Caslin

Joe Caslin is listed in Ireland’s top 40 under 40. A native of Roscommon town, artist Joe Caslin is behind some of the most thought-provoking and significant street art in Ireland.

These include the the instantly recognisable images of same-sex couples embracing, which were placed on the sides of buildings during the same-sex marriage referendum.

Another project, called Our Nation’s Sons, saw large-scale installations being placed in both rural and urban settings in the name of improving mental health among young men.

He currently works as a teacher in Tullamore and his future ambitions include installing drawings on listed and historically note-worthy sites.

Find out more about reconnecting with County Roscommon