Lough Key is one of Ireland’s most beautiful lakes, which can be reached by boaters on the River Shannon via the Boyle River. The Forest Park surrounding it comprises approximately 800 acres of varied woodland. The lake’s name derives from the Druid of the Silver Arm, also known as Cé (pronounced kay). The druid was said to be the king of the Tuatha de Danann, the mythical ancient people who, according to oral tradition, first inhabited the island of Ireland. Legend has it that he was drowned when the lake’s waters erupted from the earth.
Lough Key Forest Park has many interesting features, including underground tunnels, an observation tower, a gazebo, a wishing chair, a bog garden and an ice-house. Outdoor lovers will also enjoy the park’s many scenic walking trails, with magnificent lakeshore views, canal banks and trees. During the late spring and summer, the park is a popular location for school groups and families.
There are many small islands on the lake. One of them, Mac Dermot’s Island is also known as Castle Island, as it has the ruins of a mediaeval castle, as well as a 19th century structure.
Boats and Camping
Boats can be hired in the area, and you can book a place on one of the many pleasure cruises in the summer. The park also accommodates a caravan and camping park with on-site facilities.
Image by Seba Sofariu
Lough Key Forest Park. Image by Phil Burns