The park is the former estate of the Rossmore family who were granted these lands in the 17th century. Samuel Lewis, a visitor in 1837, wrote this about it: “A handsome mansion in an Elizabethan style situated in an extensive and beautifully diversified desmane abounding with wild and romantic scenery and commanding some fine distant views.”
Unfortunately, the handsome mansion to which Lewis referred—The Rossmore’s huge castle home—gradually fell victim to dry-rot and ruin, a not uncommon circumstance in a wet climate and with changing fortunes—and a century later in the early 40s, had to be demolished. But the central hill of the park still bears its extensive foundation imprint, and flights of the original stairs ascend terraced lawns to give the visitor the same “fine distant views”. The castle gardens and their walls remain intact, and with a view out over Sandfield Lake, are a reward all their own...as are two gigantic redwoods located a short distance from the entry gate. These were planted by Lord Rossmore over 150 years ago. His trees remain.
This lovely expanse of forest and glade is located only two miles southwest of Monaghan Town and covers a large area of approximately six by three miles. Within its bounds are five fishing lakes. The forests are primarily deciduous with numerous fine specimens of oak, ash, spruce, beech, larch, and giant redwood. It also boasts extensive plantings of rhododendron, many of which were planted over a hundred years ago and are a riot of colour in early summer.
What will draw the adventurous hiker and the casual ambler alike are the “Walks,” as they are called, on well maintained paths, several of which are suitable for wheelchair bound visitors. These walks range in length from two to four miles and are well posted. The most scenic, the Priestfield, with its colonnade of yews, is approximately three miles long and leads past the Rossmore family crypt.
Facilities include a spacious car park, clean toilets, picnic tables, litter bins, and a large, weather-protected map of the entire park and its trails. By all means, bring a lunch. Enjoy it on the original smooth finished stones of the castle’s foundation ledge, which still provides that truly commanding view described by Mr. Lewis.
How to get there:
From Dublin, N2, from Belfast A3 to Monaghan Town. From Monaghan, take N54 to R189 on left. Go toward Clones. Entrance approximately 1 mile on left. Vehicles taller than 1.8m not permitted.
Winter: close at 4:00 pm
Rossmore Forest Park (contact www.coilte.com or www.monaghantourism.com)
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