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Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon, Ireland

Lough Key Forest Park

We waited a week but it happened the sun was shining!!! We quickly packed up some essentials and jumped into our car decided to head to the ever popular and known as one of Roscommon’s number one tourist attractions Lough Key Forest & activity Park.

A great attraction for a family day out or a morning stroll.

As well as access to the park which is free to roam the ‘Lough Key Experience’ is available with an audio journey through the history of the Park even using the 19th century underground tunnels, a newly refurbished Moylurg viewing tower and the Zipit Tree Canopy Walk. At 300m long this impressive timber and steel construction rises 9m above the ground offering a ‘birds eye’ view of nature through the treetops offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Pandemic Note

Due to the pandemic the visitor center was closed, booths around the park operated instead. The restaurant is also still closed, however a food truck and coffee cart are operating instead.

Please see Lough Key website below for updates

Lough Key Forest Park

Location

Lough Key is 5 minutes drive from Boyle town centre and 15 minutes from the lively Carrick On Shannon on Ireland’s mid west in County Roscommon. Just off the N4 Sligo road.

Boyle train station is 3 kilometres from Lough Key. Many bus routes service this  area check Bus Eireann for more details

Lough Key Forest Park History

A quick run down on this parks history ,an 800 hectare park which was formerly part of the Rockingham estate.

Being in operation since 1972 the park is used by locals and tourists alike. Featuring many walking tracks, restaurant and visitor centre.

Sections of the park still have features from the Rockingham estate and some developed from the opening from the seventies. Those being the Ice House, Gazebo, Ruined Church, Stables, old Service Tunnels, the Bog Gardens, Wishing Chair, the Fairy Bridge and Drummans Bridge.

Redevelopment of the park commenced in 2006 with the redevelopment of the tunnels, restaurant, visitor center and the Moylurg observation Tower.

In recent years and in line with a moving world the park added Zipit, a canopy walk through the trees. As well as segways and electric bike trails.

McDermott’s Castle

We started at the Lough, the little Island on the Lough is McDermott’s Castle it’s like something out of a fairy tale. A little castle lying there since the 18th century a great focal  point for this area. Reports have it that a castle has lied there since the 12th century but the original was struck by lightning and burnt down.

Now the castle remains are mostly in ruins but can be viewed close up but renting a boat with Lough Key Boats which operate at the front of the Lough

Lough Key Boats

Castle Story

“Local legend tells the story of a girl called Una, the daughter of the McDermott chief, who fell in love with a boy from a lower class.

Una’s father refused to let her leave the island, in the hopes that this would deter the budding relationship.

Unbeknownst to her father, Una’s boyfriend began swimming across Lough Key to reach the castle. It was during one of these crossings that tragedy struck, and the boy drowned.

It’s said that Una died from grief and that both she and her partner have remained buried beneath two intertwined trees on the island ever since”

View to Mcdermott Castle

Our Walk

Zippit and Skywalk

Two attractions at the park and as we started the walk around you will notice through the trees is the skywalk (below left) a 300 metre canopy walk through the forest.

Close by is the start of Zipit (below center and right). A adventure park within the park, with climbing, ziplines and many obstacles through the trees and through the park and the most recent addition to the park. At 1.6 km long with 5 different circuits and a 3 hour time limit a great morning of family fun.

The Lough

As we walked through the park we got another stunning view out over the Lough. And a jetty area for boats to dock up to, unfortunately we had left ours at home and by left at home I mean left in the shop.

But many  locals our known to dock up here and spend an afternoon at the park. Or just simply sat parked up on there boat enjoying this beautiful view.

As you walk around the main forest there are plenty of little rivers and walkways  like these below. Everything always looks so peaceful and tranquil and the upkeep of the park is first class.

Walking Trails

The park has 4 walking trails for you to enjoy. All the tracks are well maintained and suitable for all ages.

  • Drumman’s  Island  Trail – Starting at the visitor center and 3.5km long
  • Miners  Way  Historical  Trail – Starting at the car park and 4.2kms long
  • Sli  Slainte – Starting at the main entrance and 3kms long
  • The  Bog  Garden  Trail – starting at the visitor center and 4kms long

Lookout Tower

A redeveloped lookout tower coming out from under where the old service tunnels once lied. The lookout tower is only accessed as part of the Lough Key Experience which as mentioned was closed during our visit. But with the surrounding woodland and Lough, we cant wait to get up it and take in those views.

It must said for such a beautiful park its certainly not the prettiest of lookout towers. But I suppose the end result and view is what counts

Old Buildings

Back round at the front of the park. one of two buildings still feature from the past Rockingham estate. Firstly this old church building sits eloquently, surrounded by the perfectly cut lawn. One of many of the fine spots to throw down a blanket and enjoy a picnic.

Secondly across the lawn was the second building an old stone house from the original Rockingham estate. Very well maintained and a large focal point straight across from the car park.

Refreshments

Due to the Pandemic the restaurant was closed however drinks and snacks were still available from local food and drinks trucks arranged and run by the park.

Beautiful homemade sausage rolls, burgers and scones were a few options. and it’s here we must give credit to the extensive range of vegan options which is great to see.

Opening Times And Contacts

Opening Times 10am – 7pm

Address: Lough Key Forest and Activity Park
Boyle, Co. Roscommon

Tel: +353 71 967 3122

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And Finally

There is ample parking around however it is 4 euros to exit the car park and which I believe the money is to keep the uptake of the park which I suppose for the size is fair enough. Should you spend 20 euro in cafe or on park activities exit fee is waived.

We enjoyed our day and our walk cant wait to go back and enjoy all that is at Lough Key Forest Park.

Local Tips

Other Things To Do In Boyle

Courtyard market

Every Saturday at the Kings House in Boyle Town Center is the Courtyard Markets. Pick up some local veg, treats, products and lots of other produce all organic or homemade.

Boyle Abbey

Boyle Abbey is a Cistercian Monastery from the 12th century founded by monks. The abbey was one of the most powerful of the early Cistercian foundations in Ireland.

The 16th century gatehouse has been restored and has been turned into a informative center to learn about the history. funded by heritage Ireland Boyle abbey is free to view.

Local Restaurant Tip

A short 15 minute drive and you in the lovely town of Carrick and Shannon. A stop we often make for one reason the Oarsman. A upmarket bistro pub serving great food.

As seen below is the tandoori flatbread with beetroot hummus equally as good and highly recommended is the Oarsman burger.

Great selection of traditional and craft beers and a great whiskey collection.

Also equally as accommodating for coffees and treats, and believe me there are some grest treats.

Take a look at the Oarsman site yourself for menus

Oarsman Flatbread

Thanks for stopping by, its easy to see why Lough Key Forest & Activity Park is our number one pick in our Roscommon Guide and is certainly a popular choice in County Roscommon.

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41 thoughts on “Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon, Ireland”

  1. Rebecca – Blogger, world traveler, poet, food lover, part-time penguin. Welcome!

    Love the views of the lake! Definitely gives off a calm solitude…looking forward to more posts of adventures exploring your own backyard!

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      Its good to be out again and such a beautiful spot for a walk 😌 these lockdowns are harsh need more adventures

  2. Wheat Salt Wine Oil – On an evening run through my neighborhood, I competed for pavement space with my county’s recycling truck. I jogged home, grabbed a pencil, and sketched my first Scripture cartoon, based on 1 Peter 5:8. Find God in your daily life and +follow Him.

    beautiful stone buildings in a peaceful setting. Tree walk looks adventurous!

  3. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

    It has indeed we will have to check some of your stuff out later cant wait to have a read 😀

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      Thanks for the comment its a beautiful spot once Covid has gone tbere is so much more to do there especially kids a lot is closed at the moment

  4. Lannie Travels – Isle of Islay – Full time aid-worker, part time food and travel blogger. Love experiencing the world through its food culture! Happily fueled by coffee, great food, and whisky.

    I’ve never heard of Lough Key but always a tale of star crossed lovers! Looks like a delightful hike despite the sad love story. 🙂

  5. Tom – Hoping to grow as a writer. An intrepid explorer of the world.

    The water is stunningly beautiful, and I love how intriguing the architecture is! I’d love to visit Ireland one day, and I’ll add this to the list of places I’ll go

  6. fitlifeandtravel – Shannon is the founder of Fitlifeandtravel and hopes to inspire you everyday to find adventure no matter where you are. Feel alive! Life Maximized!

    Lough Key looks wonderful! From the boat ride, to the adventure park; it all looks fabulous! Interesting romance story too, to top it off!

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      No way, really we moved here 2 years ago just recently bought a house its a lovely relaxed lifestyle

  7. Wendy | Perthtravelers – I'm a wife and mother of two daughters with a passion for travel and new adventures.

    Lough Key Forest Park is somewhere our family would love to visit. Our daughters would enjoy the zip line and we’d like to do one of the hikes.

  8. wattwherehow – Bernie and Jess Watt are travel bloggers from Australia, living in NYC. Award winning copywriter by day (Bernie) and legal professional (Jess), casual photographers and hobbyist Vloggers in the making, our blog blends travel experiences from around the world with tips for those coming to NYC to live or vacation.

    Looks like a lovely place for a picnic. The big question is: Is it Low Key or Lock Key? 🙂

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      Now that’s funny I’m English and the wife is Irish I would say Low but I have been put right and told its certainly lock. I do still use low occasionally for a little reaction 😅 🤣

  9. Charley – Hi! My name is Charley and welcome to my little travel blog! After visitng South Africa in 2016, I caught the travel bug and have since been to 20 countries, ranging from New Zealand to Ukraine! Undaunted Adventure is a travel blog full of tips, tricks and my favourite memories. Hopefully they'll give you some inspiration to travel and to give you some hints of where to go! Roam Free - Travel Undaunted.

    Lough Key Park sounds amazing! Definitely a great place for a walk and picnic! I love the legend around McDermott’s Castle, it was so interesting to read. Thanks for sharing!

  10. beckyzook – Hong Kong

    Lough Key Forest Park looks like a lovely place for a day trip. Castle ruins are always intriguing but what a sad story! I agree with you about that lookout tower – quite an eyesore – but I suppose you can overlook that once at the top admiring the views.

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      Its somewhere love to take the family we are lucky to have it on our doorstep

  11. Carpe Diem Eire – Hi I'm John. Together with my wife Beata we travel part time through Ireland and Europe whenever the opportunity allows it. My travels focus on road trips and city breaks. I have an avid interest in history and culture. My travel style is a high energy one, as I strive to make the most of my free time. So Carpe Diem in other words. Join me on my travels.

    Ah the Oarsman. That is where I ate on my stag party. Flashbacks. The tower is been the same since I was young. Never looked great but was always fun to climb. It’s a lovely park, but it’s a shame you can’t get on the island. It’s always tempted me.

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      I want to get on that Island maybe a few torches and a dingy one night. Like the Oarsman is a lovely spot and great food

    1. Chalk and Cheese Travels – We are adventure seekers who love to explore the world. So one day, we decided to write about it here is our story so far

      Make sure to check it out if you are every over the water in Ireland 🇮🇪

  12. Mad Hatters NYC

    What a beautiful day for a walk! I always appreciate recommendations for places that are enjoyed by both tourists and locals.

  13. loverosiee

    Ireland is just such a gem isn’t it. I’d really love to do more of Ireland and not just the tourist bits. We’ve done Dublin but I’d love to Galway and Cork where my family is from!

    Rosie

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