Europe Ireland

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 Lough Key Roscommon is a hit with everyone.

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. Lets just say some great play areas for both the children and adults.


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.

Getting There

By Road
Lough Key is conveniently located on the N4 Dublin to Sligo Road and is 17 kilometres from the N5 Dublin to Westport Road. The town of Boyle is only 5 km from Lough Key, which links to the N61 Roscommon/Athlone Road.
Link to AA Route Planner

By Train
Boyle Train Station is on the Sligo – Dublin Route. For timetables and further information please log onto Irish Rail

By Bus
The town of Boyle is serviced by a number of bus routes: For timetables, routes and further information please log onto at Bus Eireann

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. This little Lough Key castle attraction is certainly one to try out with the family and the boat tours are a must.

boat hire at 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”

Mcdermot castle
View to Mcdermott Castle

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.

Adventure Play Kingdom

A Childs delight is the Adventure Play Kingdom at Lough Key. An area of fun as the name describes, with slides, ropes, swings, climbing frames and many activities to keep the kids well entertained.

The castle design only adds to the fun and adventure of this area of the park and only enhancing the areas great entertainment for the kids.

adventure play kingdom lough key

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 and nature walk 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
lough key forest park map

Lookout Tower

A redeveloped lookout tower namedthe Morlurg tower comes 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.


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.

Note: The restaurant in the visitor centre is due to reopen Easter 2022

Opening Times And Contacts

Opening Times 10am – 7pm

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

Tel: +353 71 967 3122



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

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.

The west of Ireland has many a great places for families to visit, fancy checking out a few more family orientated trips then look no further than our road trip right out west to Doolin. We came up with perfect things to do for all the family.

Is Lough Key free to enter?

It is however there is a 4 euro exit fee to leave the car park.

Can you buy food at Lough Key Forest Park?

Yes you can there is a café available all day for food and drinks

Is Lough Key open in winter?

It is but it’s worth checking with them to see what attractions are available.

Can you hire bikes at Lough Key?

You can and it’s the perfect way to see the grounds with the family.

By chalkandcheesetravels

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

52 replies on “Lough Key Forest Park, Roscommon, Ireland”

It looks beautiful there! I would love to go there one day (if COVID ever ends)

All the best, Michelle (

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

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!

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.

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.

McDermott’s Castle looks dreamy! Looks like the perfect place for a spring time walk. Thanks for sharing!

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!


What a lovely place to visit! The lough is absolutely beautiful, as are the forest walks, and there are loads of things to do. Great to read tips about local eateries and other nearby attractions as well.

Sounds like a lace with a little something for everyone. That’s my perfect destination. Great post.

The park and forest look great, very green, but then that’s what ireland is famous for. – and the rain to keep those Loughs filled! Friends travelled around this area and came back with stories of how wonderful the area is, Good to have info here about where to eat and drink as I wouldn’t have known where to go.
Have to admit that lookout tower is a bit of an eyesore in what is a very natural looking area, wonder how they got permission to build it in that style.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from Chalk & Cheese Travels

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading