Autumn is a great time to get out and about in Ireland’s woods and forests. There really is nothing like a crisp autumn day in the woods enjoying the golden autumn woolands and having great fun kicking leaves. Coillte manage eleven marvellous Forest Parks as well as over 150 Recreation sites. Check out their the Coillte Outdoors website for all the details, including maps and trails.
Here is a list of their Forest parks. They feature a range of childrens playgrounds, picnic sites, marked walking and cycling trails alongside the beautiful scenic woodlands.
1. Cavan: Dun-a-Ri Forest Park
Dun-a-Ri Forest Park forms part of the former Cabra Estate in the wooded glen of the Cabra river. Special features include the ruins of Flemings Castle Cabra Cottage, ice house, wishing well and old flax mill. One km north of Kingscourt.
2. Cavan: Killykeen Forest Park
Killykeen comprises 240 hectares of mixed woodland set among the complex Cavan landscape of rounded hills, drumlins and a labyrinth of waterways. A self catering chalet complex is located in the park. Killykeen is situated 7 km west of Cavan town on the Killeshandra Road (R199).
3. Cork: Farran Forest Park
The diversity of tree species, the great vistas of surrounding mountains and the placid waters of the Lee reservoir combine to form an area of great natural beauty. Attractions include a wildlife enclosure supporting a great diversity of animals and birds. There is a display center, trails, walks and vantage points giving views of the surrounding landscape. Location is 11 km west of Cork City on the N22 (L39) to Macroom.
4. Cork: Gougan Barra Forest Park
Above a lake of dark waters, source of the River Lee, the forest fills a great glacial coum backed by a dramatic amphitheater of cliffs. A ring road gives a choice of walks, including a short nature trail. Gougan Barra is three km west of Ballingeary on the R584 (T64) to Bantry.
5. Donegal: Ards Forest Park
Situated on the shores of Sheep Haven Bay, Ards Forest Park contains a great diversity of habitats including deciduous and coniferous woodland, saltmarsh, sand dunes and sea shore, freshwater lakes, fenland and rock faces. It offers a splendid variety of flora and fauna. Special features include a mass rock, holy well and the remains of a number of ring forts. There are trails, walks and viewing points. Three km east of Creeslough off the N56 (L76).
6. Galway: Portumna Forest Park
Portumna Forest Park is located on the northern shore of Lough Derg. It contains a wide variety of habitat types including marsh, lake, scrub, open space and mixed woodland, making it an area rich in wildlife including otter, pine marten and deer. It is accessible by water and road. A number of attractive trails have been developed.
7. Kildare: Donadea Forest Park
The predominant feature of this park is Donadea Castle which is located in the core of the park beside the lake. Forest walks, trails and picnic sites are provided. Five km south of Kilcock on R407 (L25) to Naas.
8. Limerick: Currachase Forest Park
This park was formerly the estate of the De Vere family who built the mansion, laid out the grounds, formed the lake and planted the old woodlands. The ruined shell of Currachase House, once the home of the poet Aubrey De Vere, remains. The park also offers a caravan/ camping park, arboretum, children’s play area, trails and viewing points. Situated 13 km west of Limerick on the N69 (T68) to Askeaton.
9. Monagahan: Rossmore Forest Park
Rossmore is an attractive combination of woodland and lakes and offers trails, walks and picnic sites. One km west of Monaghan on R189 (L44) to Newbliss.
10. Roscommon: Lough Key Forest Park
Situated 3 km east of Boyle on the N4 to Carrick-on-Shannon, this park combines mixed woodland, waterways and islands. Special features include a bog-garden, fairy bridge, old estate chapel, viewing tower and wishing chair. It has numerous archaeological and historical monuments. There is a caravan/ camping park, lake cruises and boats for hire.
11. Wicklow: Avondale Forest Park
Avondale is set on the west bank of the Avonmore river which provides a beautiful location for walks and trails. It contains the home of Charles Stewart Parnell which was built in 1777 by Samuel Hayes and is now the Parnell Museum. The park is rich in wildlife and special features include the exotic tree trail and a well developed arboretum. Three km south of Rathdrum on the R752 (T7) to Arklow.