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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.

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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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Glasnevin Cemetery

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Sunday 23rd May saw me visit Glasnevin Cemetery with my good friend Blaithín.

I was dubious. I was beginning to wonder slightly why I went, at first. You may also wonder why a cemetery is being featured on this blog. As disclaimers go, I paid in just like the rest of the some 30 people who managed to get on the guided tour.

But the 140 acre site is amazing. The €5 priced guided tours done by historian and development manager Shane MacThomais run daily at 11.30am, 12.30 & 2.30pm and are well worth it. Really well worth it.

Of course you can walk in for free…. but whats the fun[?] in that. There are 1.5 million people buried there since 1832 – just pay the fiver…. you won’t regret it.

From an ‘outdoors’ person perspective…. it was noticeable that the trust has been putting a lot of money into restoration of the entire grounds. A lot of headstones appeared as 2 seperate colours and it wasn’t until Shane explained that they had been laid a long time ago and sank, some from 8′ high down to just 2′. These are all now being fixed. The fact that the yew trees were put there to prevent people parking their cattle and right down to why cemeteries are no longer placed by rivers as they used to be.

This June the cemetry will also be joined with the Botanical Gardens so one will be able to walk through from one to the other and there are further plans to open a sort of stone masons apprentices school. That I think is a great idea for such a craft. Once again its not until Shane explains how long in hours and hammer taps per hour a piece of stone takes by hand.

All that aside there are the stories of the grave robbers, why a Dublin person is never buried after 12 noon [uisce beatha 😉 ]  and as funny as it sounds even just looking at the trees made me smile.

The tour outdoors takes about 1.5 hours. The tour inside the building and out combined costs a tenner and both receipts will give you discount in the coffee shop [where the cakes are a must and the staff are polite]. They also do student rates. If you believe you may have some family history here…. do go and research.

Some of the more better known names buried there include: Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, O’Donovan Rossa, Arthur Griffiths and Countess Markiewicz. Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Cusack and Liam Whelan.

The trust employs 2 full time and 7 part time staff and can be contacted via the Glasnevin Trust website, telephone 00353-1-8826590 or email tours[at]glasnevintrust[dot]ie

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Garden Group Tour To Irelands Eye Guide

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ALL CLEAR GIVEN. TRIP IS GO!!!

Not to be confused with another Garden Gig – the grow your own garden course – that I am running this Saturday.

This post is for those attending The Peter Donegan Weblog Garden Group Tour to Irelands Eye.

*ONLY* If your name has been accepted via comment on The Garden Group To Set Sail blog post – can you get on the boat. Hate to sound rude but…. I’d rather you disappointed than the skipper throwing me overboard 😉

Further to my chat with the boats skipper [17:22 hours] departure is reliant upon weather confirmation to be given on this Friday Morning. I have been told to assume however that it is going ahead. The strike through just under the photo above will be removed as soon as full weather clearance is given.

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11.30am arrive

As this trip is all reliant on a boat departing – please be on time!! Think angry Skipper. It is recommended you use public transport. Or do a variation of park and ride. Street parking around Howth is mental on a sunny Sunday!

The Dart stop you want is Howth – do not confuse this with Howth Junction.On exit from the DART station you are right outside The Bloody Stream Pub [pictured left], where we will meet.

Bus numbers 31 and 31B also leave from Lower Abbey Street.

We don’t have a tour guide. But we do have….

Diarmid O’ Cathsaigh from the Howth Peninsula Heritage Society will meet us at the pier and give us a short talk [about 20 minutes] on the history and tales of the island. Big thanks to Mary Stephenson for organising this for me.

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Boat Journey

Boat will depart to Irelands Eye as soon as Diarmuid is finished his talk. All monies [€15] to be paid to the skipper up front. I’d reckon he doesn’t take credit card or cheque.

Clothing

It is recommended that you wear long trousers and good water proof boots if you wish to walk the island. The growth that covers the island is gorse/ thorned/ prickly and wet.

Photography/ Video

Fully recommended. Just google Irelands Eye for images and you’ll understand why. If someone wishes to record Diarmuids chat with us in hi-definition that’d be great.

Lunch

Bring a picnic and flask. And put it in a backpack. A comfy one.

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Weather

the weather is supposed to be good thank God. But – this is Ireland and once we’re there…. we are there. Same rules apply for the bathroom.

Be careful

This is an island.There are jagged edges/ cliff faces etc.

If you are going wandering please do not do so alone.

Birds tend [if they are] to make their nests at ground level. Keep a careful eye out.

Please also be extra careful with wrappers/ rubbish that may blow away when on the island.

Other

My mobile number is vodafone prefix and then 6594688. Use it if you need to.

If Blaithín, Dena and Rosemary start singing Michael row the boat ashore or Rock the Boat – you have my permission to use your logic 😉

It is at this point I will refer to The Garden Group Guide and I’ll look forward to seeing you on Sunday.

I took these pics last week….

St Audoens Park, Dublin

Located on the corner of High Street and Cook Street [just on past Christ Church] St Audoens Park is, I’m glad to say, another of Dublins little gems. According to Dublin City Councils website:

St. Audoen’s Park, although less than 0.5 hectares in size, is quite significant in historical terms.  Located adjacent to St. Audoen’s Church (1300 A.D.), it incorporates the first stone city wall dating from about 1100 A.D.; St. Audoen’s Arch, the last surviving entrance to the old city; and Fagan’s Gate.

The City Wall was restored in 1976 as part of Architectural Heritage Year and the park development of 1982 won a prestigious civic award.  Audoen was a 7th – century Bishop of Rouen (France) and the nearby church named after him is reputedly one of the oldest still used for regular religious services.

As a park, it is extremely relaxing and a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle. The fact that it has so much from a heritage point of view is something that maybe is overlooked a bit too often… But maybe there’s a little of The War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park going on here with Christs Church only a stones throw away [?].

That said I like it. Nicely laid out. Clean and tidy. There was even a gardener in trimming the lawn edges on the day I visited. I also like the fact that there’s a Dublin Bike Scheme collection point right outside. I cycled right up from Exchequer Street. The beds were a little empty but I’ll simply put that down to the time of the season… still no leaves on the trees 😉 A note should go also to the stone work cobbles that so often are not in keeping with the surroundings.

Go take a look. Enjoy. Well worth it.

more picture of St Audoens Park