Rossmore Forest Park is a national forest park located near Monaghan town and run by the Irish States forestry organisation; Coillte. 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 demesne abounding with wild and romantic scenery and commanding some fine distant views.” The ‘handsome mansion' was a 19th century castle. Originally built by the 2nd Lord Rossmore in 1827 in the Gothic style, it was extended in 1858.
After the Second World War, dry rot forced the abandonment of the castle, which has since been demolished in the 1960’s. But the central hill of the park still bears its extensive foundation imprint, and flights of the original steps ascend terraced lawns to give the visitor the same “fine distant views”.
Within the park 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 on well maintained paths. The most scenic, the Priestfield, with its colonnade of yews, is approximately three miles long and leads past the Rossmore family Mausoleum which is currently being restored. The park has yielded me many fine images and continues to do so.