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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.

Ladies View, Killarney

No this not a postcard. This is the view from what is known a Ladies View, In Killarney. It is one of the most amazing places I have ever been to in my life.

People say Ireland can be expensive – well this is as easy as a picnic, if you chose to do it that way and it is one of the few things in this country that the government cannot put a tax upon. Personally, I would [and will] sit looking at this for days.

I made it here because I took the road less travelled. I got lost, intentionally – and was so happy that I did. From Killarney town it took me approximately 4 hours in total to get to Macroom in Cork. To put in context it only took me about one hour on the way over 😉 The reason it took so long is that I stopped everywhere.

To be honest I found it hard trying to pick out just one photograph of my journey. I will go back. Sooner than I thought. When you do – don’t bring a sat nav. You’ll thanks me for it. I promise. Instead swap it for a poetry book.

View more images of Ladies View, Killarney

This was the journey from Conavee to Killarney…..

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The Battle Of The Boyne Site

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The Battle Of The Boyne Site was visited by The Garden Group yesterday Sunday 27th June.

For a group that is entirely run free gratis yesterday would not have been possible without the help of Aisling Mc Mahon of the OPW and her team who gave us a personal guided tour of the grounds and access to areas that are not as yet open to the public.


The place is absolutely brimmed with history. That aside, from a personal point of view, as having restored and designed 17th and 18th century landscapes, to see the before and then the end result after landscape restoration is simply amazing. I know I am not alone when I say I will return to this place.

There is so much more there than just history to see and do here. It’s also free as long as you don’t do the guided tour of the house. Which you should. The landscape is simply breath taking. Two displays were taking place while we were there. The coffee shop is a must…. the list goes on. Go. Visit. Enjoy. Wander in the long grass.

More Details at the Battle of The Boyne Website

View more of my Battle of The Boyne Images

Looking for more information:

I really enjoyed Sarah’s images of the Boyne Battle site trip – baffles me how she took this picture from the boyne site visit 😉 genius.

George has great [curious] images of the Boyne Site Trip.

John Williams as always, took these great shots of the boyne site tour. Keep an eye on his personal weblog. You wouldn’t know what boyne site gems he could pull out of the bag.

Check out these images of the Boyne Visit. Jennifer posted the rest of her [as always genius] images of the boyne day. Some bits in there a lot of us missed. Makes me wanna go back and stay longer 😉

kilkenny Castle Rose Garden & Park

On Monday the 26th October 2009 I went to visit Kilkenny Castle Rose Park & Gardens. I went under the recommendation of my good friend Pat Fitzgerald.

As I walked up towards the castle I was bemused at the amount of brand spanking smooth polished granite that adorned such a vast are[n]a, complete with mirror polished steel against this ancient backdrop of the beautiful castle…. who on Gods earth decided on this…? such a shame. And to those who did this… you should be ashamed.

That out of my system. It was the gardens I went to see.Admission is free. The grounds are very well maintained.The sight of new tree planting schemes is to be applauded and admired. I really do love this park… The hills of grass so high in parts that one couldn’t see over the far side. The wooded areas were left with stacks of wood [brilliant for wildlife]underneath the canopy of wooded leaf areas. The leaves adorned some of the footpaths but not all. There are so many options when walking here… the poem ‘the road less travelled’ really does come to mind. The walkway by the waters edge is superb, so romantic, such a break from the norm…

It really is so very well done.  The grounds staff deserve a standing ovation. I could have stayed here all day….

The bad bit…. the rose garden was closed off. I attempted to sneak in under the advice of two local ladies…. but I got caught and was chucked out 😉 So this now becomes a review of Kilkenny Castle Park…

Go there and visit. Take your time. Bring the kids. Bring the dog. Watch out for the such beautiful secluded seating areas. Take your time and enjoy. This is up there with the best of them.

More images of kilkenny castle gardens can be viewed here

quinncentennial park, galway

quinncentennial park galway

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Did you ever want to give a County Council, in this case a parks department, whose wages I and you pay – a good kick up the bottom ?

Two parks in two days in Galway is what I set out to do. That’s what I did.

The other was Claude Toft Park. It shouldn’t really matter what two parks I chose to visit – in my honest opinion this parks department needs a radical reality check. If I maintained that park? It wouldn’t be in that state. Or…… I could be out of a job. The options ‘they’ should be given.

Before ‘anyone’ suggests the economic-hulabuloo ? The evidence, horticulturally, is that this neglect has been evident and growing worse for a long [in years] time. Secondly, I personally go to a park so I don’t have to hear about that sort of stuff.

I paid hard earned money to travel to Galway. I spent money when in Galway. If I was a tourist travelling from abroad – I would not return. And with tourism already down 20% – I am beginning to understand why that might be.

To the park – Whilst the outlay remembles a little bit more of what I would consider ‘a park’, once again – zero available information on the internet regarding this place also.

I wasn’t impressed. At first, my mood lightened when I saw a rock noting that it was ‘developed for the benefit of Galways senior citizens by Digital Equipment International B.V. 1984’. I then looked around. Not impressed. My spirits were lifted again when I came across the central water feature and a Mom with kids and dog playing there [the only people apart from me]. I saw a wee bridge. I then saw the now defunct water feature…What?!! Back to brutal.

I’m guessing in 1984 this park was an absolute stunner and the gesture by the company [I assume], in a 1984 Ireland, Saint-like. As an overview the layout is good and the road less travelled pathways and secluded seating places make it a nice place to spend time, possibly, I’m sure. But as of now the park needs attention. Urgently.

Once again – my second park in two days. And of all of the parks I have ever visited. These have to be two of the worst. These are peoples parks. NOT The County Councils.

Shame on you Galway City Coucil Parks Department. The same Galway City Council that wish to plough a road through Terrylands Peoples Forest?  And by the way, it’s the peoples forest.

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