Lough Key Forest Park

Nestled in a region rich with history, Lough Key Forest Park is a tapestry of expansive woodlands and enchanting islands. Did you know that as early as 1184, Castle Island was mentioned in the annals of Lough Ce? Back then, this serene park was known as Moylurg, with the McDermotts reigning as its kings.

Their primary abode? The Rock, which we now fondly call Castle Island. But given the island's cozy size, the McDermotts also had a mainland residence, right where the iconic Moylurg Tower proudly stands today. Their reign continued until the 17th century when the King family from England took over, thanks to the Cromwellian settlement. Splitting their time between the town of Boyle and Moylurg, they rechristened it Rockingham. And where the Moylurg Tower stands was once the grand Rockingham House.

The brilliant John Nash, the mastermind behind London's Regents Park and Regents Street, designed this mansion in the early 1800s. Among his other notable contributions to the estate are the whimsical "Tiara" gate-lodge at the N4 entrance and the enchanting Fairy Bridge.

To beautify the park, the renowned landscaper John Sutherland was brought on board. His vision? A Landscape Park that, while meticulously designed, exuded a natural charm.

However, in 1957, a tragic fire, believed to have sparked from an electrical glitch in the upper basement, consumed the house. By the 1970s, the state had taken over the land, and the remnants of the house were taken down. In its place, the Moylurg Tower, a sturdy concrete viewing tower, was erected in 1973.

Today, as you stroll through the park, you can witness the landscape's graceful aging. The Great Lawn, once the backdrop to the grand house, stretches out on three sides, while the fourth offers a mesmerizing view of Lough Key and its picturesque islands. Of special note is Castle Island, revamped as a decorative folly during the King family's era, a testament to their legacy as one of Ireland's most prominent landowning families. Come, explore, and be a part of this timeless tale!