Lough Key Forest Park
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It is an outstanding natural amenity featuring a host of water and forest-based activities with a wonderful camping and caravan parking facility located around the edges of a beautiful lake.
The estate was taken over by the State in the 1950s and Rockingham house burned down in a fire started by an electrical fault in 1957.
The house had been designed by John Nash.
After the ruins of the house were demolished in 1971, the Moylurg viewing tower was built on the site in 1973.
The servant’s tunnels still exist, with one entrance near the tower.
Lough Key has for many centuries drawn people to its spectacular views, abundant wildlife, historic buildings and evocative islands.
This beautiful landscape is steeped in a rich history, beginning with Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements, continuing through the 12th Century rule of the MacDermot Clan and up to the 1600’s when the Lough Key lands were granted to an English family under the Cromwellian settlement.
The Kings resided at Rockingham, as their estate was known, until 1957 when the huge fire destroyed their mansion, although it was the early 1970s before the ruins were finally razed to the ground.
Now after major development the historic backdrop encompasses a landmark cluster of unique attractions serving the needs of a 21st century visitor with a new lakeside centre providing an ideal gateway for gentle leisurely activities or more energetic pursuits.
It is worth exploring many of the Park’s unique, natural and historical features from its 19th century parkland with majestic trees, follies, bridges and canals to the numerous walks and trails through the native woodlands, Bog garden and forests.
This vast estate is predominantly covered by forest and woodland with both broadleaf and conifer trees growing within the Park.
The broadleaf trees include ash, oak, beech, lime, sycamore and horse chestnut, while the most prominent conifers are Norway spruce, Sitka spruce, Scots pine and the magnificent western red cedar.
Wild flowers in the Park include bluebell, wild garlic, wood anemone, ragged robin, summer snowflake, wood sorrel, primrose, yellow iris and meadow sweet.
With its diverse habitats the Park is home to many species of wildlife.
Mammals present include the fallow deer, fox, hare, rabbit, red squirrel and stoat, while the bat, otter and badger are mainly active at night, Birds to be seen along the lakeshore include the heron, swan, mallard and tufted duck, while the jay, pheasant, wren and blue-tit are common throughout the Park.
Moorhen, robin and the colourful kingfisher are most visible along the canal banks.
A wealth of historical and archaeological points of interest can be found throughout the Park including ringforts, a souterrain, Fishing Pavilion, Fairy Bridge, Wishing Chair, Ice House, Stables and Estate Chapel.
On the lake itself you can take pleasure trips on large boats around the islands, sail and berth your own cruiser, hire fishing boats, go windsurfing and indulge in a host of activities that suit all the family.
Lough Key and the Forest Park are two wonderful co-joined amenities of nature that are worth visiting for an extended holiday.