The first state forest to be granted Forest Park status in Northern Ireland, Tollymore Forest Park celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005.
This attractive park features the whimsical designs of Thomas Wright (1711-1786). It contains caves, bridges, and grottoes, some natural and some man made. The Gothic gate near the entrance was part of the original estate owned by Lord Clanbrassil.
The forest is full of traditional growth as well as exotic surprises such as the monkey-puzzle tree, huge redwoods and unusual pines. White Star Lines, builder of the Titanic, regularly used oak wood from Tollymore to erect their ocean liners. The arboretum at Tollymore features the oldest tree in any Irish arboretum, the Clanabrassilian, dating back to around 1750.
There are four walking trails used to see the sights of Tollymore Forest Park:
The Arboretum and Forest Plots Trail leads to a wide variety of species and affords visitors a close up view.
The Lakes and Ponds trail winds along the Shimna River, which flows through the park, to the lake via Old Bridge. It then passes streams and several old millponds before circling back to the river.
The Rivers Trail follows the Shimna River past Parnell’s Bridge to the Spinkwee River with its beautiful Cascade Falls, a 10-meter waterfall and one of the park’s most engaging features.
The Long Haul Trail is a more difficult hiking trail that progresses through deep forest and mountain, rewarding climbers with spectacular views of the Mourne Mountains and the seacoast below.
In 1611, the Maginnes family received the lands around Tollymore as a grant from James I. They were passed on to the Hamiltons in 1685 and then to the Roden family who sold the land to the Ministry of Agriculture in 1941.