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Lough Key Forest

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This actually comes under the [web] title of Lough Key Forest and Activity Park. Which includes a lot under its banner. I chose to go camping there for 4 days and try and experience as much as possible within the beautiful town of Boyle in Co. Roscommon. That’ll come later on the weblog.

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Lough Key camping

I arrived on a Thursday evening. The campsite reception was closed, but I had called in advance and so I just went ahead and pitched my tent. The next morning I went down paid my €22 per night. Overall the campsite is good. I chose it mainly because of the forest. There was a water tap nearby but that’s about as good as the right by your tent facilities got. Not a problem.

Whilst there were some queries over the cleanliness at the cooking and preparation facilities, more importantly and for those with kids, there are tumble dryers and washing machines in the main area [require tokens] and the showers [also token] were hot and clean as were the bathrooms and washing areas.

I liked the fact that the security man came by at night time to make sure no sticks were being burned from the forest and warning the dangers of. A more polite way for everyone to note that he was around.

The great thing about the forest surrounding the campsite really is the fact that one could go for a wander through the woods. For those with families this is a great way to keep the kids entertained and dry-er when the rain really does fall. There are many dry spots to be found under shelter from the trees. Whilst that was the ultimate for me and no one minds a tree that fell over or gave rebirth to another, it would have been nice if greater attention could be paid to the rubbish within the woods. That said the setting is brilliant.

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Activity Park

The activity park is an odd one depending on who you talk to. There is a €4 charge on the barriered car park which most avoid and simply park outside. For me it was simply a short walk from the campsite.

Inside there are options to pay for a tree canopy walk, an activity challenge called boda borg and a [paid] play ground. There is also a coffee shop/ restaurant.

On one hand if you are camping you get discount on these activities with a pass given from the camping reception. On the other, if you are on a budget it can easily mount up. That said whilst there is a free playground and picnic areas outside the children tell me the pay for play area is really good. Adults obviously go in free. The tree canopy walk I chose not to do but it also got good reports.

The reality is though that for me to come here for a weekend is one thing. The flip side is when it is right on your door step…. and on this fact alone I’m inclined to disagree with Lough Key on the €4 car park charge. They can say it goes to the forest maintenance – but I don’t know any park or outdoor variant in Dublin that charges for this.

The Forest Park and Lough

The walk through the surrounding park is brilliant. Brimmed with history, watching the boats, feeding the ducks… I could literally walk and sit here for days and if I were living in Boyle it would be free [apart from the car park of course].  But, from a campers point of view it is the reason I went there and for that alone I am so glad that I did.

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Overall

I thought it was great. Absolutely brilliant for families. Would I go again ? 110% in the morning. In fact I actually had that moment where I wanted to stay the extra night[s]. The down and upsides, were my little gripe with the car park. There is also the option to buy imported bottled water in the café but/ and at the same token there is free water in the coffee shop where they also supply free bread to feed the ducks.

The campsite needs a little tlc – but after that it is camping and it is amazing. As to the paid for activities, well I guess as long as you know in advance you now have an option to do or not to do so.

Either or Lough Key as always was made for me by the people I met, those who chose to sit and talk with me and of course the natural surrounding setting which are absolutely amazing. Go there. Visit. Camp. Stay. Lets the kids run wild. Run wild yourself while you are at it. I did. I loved it. I will return.

More to follow.

View more images of Lough Key Forest

Courtesy Wikipedia:

Situated just off the N4 is Lough Key Forest Park, a fantastic parkland area that has been tastefully revitalised by an addition of a Visitor Center and Activity Facilities including Boda Borg, a puzzle solving activity centre which is a Swedish concept originally unique to Irelandbut now has locations in Sweden and plans to expand Worldwide[7]. The park covers 800 acres (3.2 km²), and was formerly part of the Rockingham estate. The Moylurg Tower, standing on the site of the old Rockingham house, now stands overlooking the wonderful lake to the north and impressive lawns to the south. This was the seat of the Stafford-King-Harman[8] family until 1957, who at the end of the nineteenth century owned over 30,000 acres (120 km²) in north County Roscommon and County Sligo. The impressive Rockingham House itself was badly damaged in a fire in 1957 and was demolished in 1970.

There are many interesting islands on Lough Key. The impressive Castle Island is a well-known visual icon of this area. Trinity Island contains the ruins of a chapel, linked to the Cistercian monastery in the town. There are two trees growing on the island with interlinked branches, said to mark the graves of Una Bhan Mac Diarmid and Tomas Laidir Mac Coisdealbhaigh, two ill-fated lovers, celebrated in the poem Una BhanUna Bhan is a standard text on the Irish school curriculum.

Robinia Pseudoacacia Frisia

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I had an email in today reminding me that October was just around the corner…. And it is. With that comes tree planing season. That said, this photo was taken last week and there is great potential for me to end on an entirely different subject-ish 😉 My idea here is just to get you thinking of what is merely weeks away….  Plan now for when you will essentially be buying a twig, stick or dormant plant and you will reap the rewards.

Imagine if everyone in Ireland planted just one tree how beautiful this country would look….

This however is the Robinia pseudoacacia ‘frisia’.

Leguminosae/ papilionaceae. The Robinia’s are a genus of about 20 deciduous species and grow pretty well in Ireland. ‘The books’ note that it may upset your tummy if you eat any part of the tree. On one hand, who eats trees anyway. On the other, better safe than sorry and I tell you in advance.

To it’s name; Psuedo meaning false, and acacia being an entirely different tree, this is often commonly known as the false acacia or the black locust. It’s attractiveness comes down to its foliage which is almost like the sweet pea or pea’s that I have grown in my garden – but then it is Leguminosae [legume] which is essentially the pea family.

This variety of Robinia can grow up to 50 feet tall. It’s golden foliage turns to a more green in summer and to a more orange in autumn. I love it also for its perfumed [although I can’t smell diddly] white flowers than grow in little hanging clusters or racemes* in summer time.

They also remind me slightly of these Gleditsia – funnily enough, they are commonly referred to as the honey locust. Well, you learn something new every day. Go. Buy. Enjoy. Let me know how you get on.

*raceme: [def] a cluster of flowers along a central stem

Beautiful Cow Competition

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Saturday 10th July saw the North Dublin Dairy show 2010 get under way. The highlight is of course, what can only be described as the beautiful cow competition.

I met with 22 year old farmer Michael Connell Jnr to find out more.

Earlier, I had met Jim Scully, secretary of The Dublin Milk Producers. Listening to him and Michael, I realise dairy farming in this country has a serious message and is in serious trouble.

This day however, was one for congratulations, trophies and rosettes, It was also a day for meeting and greeting young and old who ensure that somehow or udder [ 😉 ] milk ends up on our tables.

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Take a look at the just how serious the judging business of prize cows really is. Like Michael said, it can add value. Consider also that one gentleman told me that he had recently paid over €2000 for a 3 week old baby cow. Father Ted you say ? 😉

Cows aside, because of the people I met, it really was an amazing day. One that I was honoured to be invited to. Thank you so much to the Dublin Milk Producers and 3 generations of The Connell Family for being such fine hosts. Also to Jim Scully and Michael Jnr for taking the time to talk to me.

View More Images of The North Dublin Dairy Show 2010

Battle of The Boyne Site Visit & The Garden Group

To those attending there is of course the original garden group guide post to this trip to the battle of the boyne site.

A note of thanks and deserved applause to Nick Reilly and Aisling Mc Mahon [OPW]  and also to you who decided to make this your Sunday day out.

Really looking forward to this. 🙂

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Irish Mail On Sunday 23rd May 2010

Yesterday, Eugene Higgins of The Irish Mail On Sunday did a great Piece on The Garden Group with the tagline How a Bloom maverick is taking bloggers on tours of our ‘secret’ gardens and titled it A www.walk on the wild side

The main picture is of Dena [@curlydena], Mom Vena [@VenaW] and Dad Andrew Walker. [And to think I spent so long brushing my hair that day 😀 ] The other two images are courtesy Jennifer Farley Photography [@laughing_lion]. I’ve asked Eugene for the main text of the piece and will post it below as soon as I get it. For now…..

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