Elphin takes its name from ‘Ailfinn’ meaning white stone. This refers to a large obelisk, which stood by a well here and is recorded as having fallen down in 1675 AD. The town was visited by St Patrick and was the centre for the Christian Church until quite recently. It has the ruins of a cathedral and the bishop’s palace. St Patrick also founded an Episcopal monastery or college at Elphin, believed to be one of the first monasteries founded by him. In pre-Reformation times, Elphin was host to a large number of religious orders and was a religious centre of international significance. This is supported by the appearance of Elphin in a number of pan-European maps in the Middle Ages.
Just outside the town and well worth a visit is the recently restored 18th Century Elphin Windmill, built in 1720, and restored in 1996 to full working condition - the only one in the West, and the oldest in Ireland. This windmill was perfectly located to harness the winds sweeping over the plains of Elphin. Unusual features are its thatched revolving roof and four sails that are turned into the wind by using a tailpole attached to a cartwheel on a circular track.
Also here is the Mill Cottage Agricultural Museum - Open All Year. Both are situated on Windmill Road north of the town of Elphin.