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Co Monaghan: one walk, one run, one hike, one swim, one cycle, one park and one outdoor gym

Your essential, outdoor, family-friendly guide to Co Monaghan

When the weather is good, there is so much to do outdoors in Ireland – solo, or with family or friends. Here are seven activities - with locations, descriptions, tips and some maps for a general guide.

Below you can read John O'Dwyer's pick for a great walking path, Conor O'Keeffe on a running route, Rozanna Purcell recommends a hiking trail, Mary McCarthy on an outdoor swimming location, Ian O'Riordan picks a cycle trip, Sylvia Thompson on a family-friendly park and Fiona Alston selects a popular outdoor gym.

And remember, whatever you do and wherever you go, please be safe. And enjoy.

Name Tra Walk
Distance 10km
Approximate duration 3 hours
Difficulty Moderate
Starting point Google Maps Slieve Beagh Hotel (grid reference H 527 440)
Amenities Parking and restaurant
Waymarked as the Tra Walk, the route offers memorable mountain scenery while presenting few navigational difficulties or other hazards.


Name: Rossmore Park
Length: 8km
Route type: Loop
Footwear: Road or Trail Runners

Route Information: There are six looped walking trails in the forest park which cater for all abilities and they are colour coded for ease of use. The trails include the following:

The "Access for all Trail" (0.8 km, 30 mins, red markers)
The "Barn Hill Lake Loop" (1.7 km, 45 mins, orange markers)
The "Twin Lakes Loop" (2.6 km, 1 hour, white markers)
The "Priestfield Lake Loop" (2.9 km, 1 hour, green markers)
The "Castle Trail" (3.0 km, 1 hour, brown markers)
The "Rossmore Loop" (8.0 km, 2.5 hours, blue markers)

Picnic areas, car park facilities and a newly developed children's playpark are all available within the park. Admission is free and opening times are daylight hours. Rossmore Forest Park is part of an estate of land that was granted to the Blayney family as part of the Plantation of Ulster in the early 1600s. It passed to the Westenra family in the early 1800s and it was Warner Westenra, the 3rd Lord Rossmore who commenced the building in 1827 of Rossmore Castle in Tudor Gothic style, to the designs of William Vitruvius Morrison.

A main feature of the original building was a large square tower and turret with crow step battlements. An extension added in 1858 featured two towers, one with a polygonal turret and cupola. A competition developed over the years between Lord Rossmore and Mr Shirley of Lough Fea, as to which of them could claim to have the largest room in County Monaghan.

As a result the drawing room in Rossmore Castle was enlarged five times. Eventually the combined changes and additions resulted in a building with three towers and more than 117 windows in 53 different shapes and sizes. After the second World War the house developed a severe case of dry rot and the family were forced to leave. The castle was eventually demolished in 1974 for safety reasons. The estate was acquired by the State in the 1950s and replanted with a mixture of conifer and broadleaf trees. Conifer species include Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir and Noway Spruce. Broadleaf trees include beech, oak and poplar. There are many self-seeding "scrub" trees such as birch and alder.

Notable in the park are some of the original estate trees including giant redwoods, yew, scots pine, cedars and monkey puzzle. Many sites associated with the house can be seen around the forest park: the entrance gates and gate lodges, old walled gardens, pet cemetery, hydraulic ram, fish hatchery, man made lakes, wells and the mausoleum for family burials (private) located peacefully beside a waterfall.

The hydraulic ram which is located beside the river was used to raise water uphill to the house. The device invented in 1772 has only two moving parts, a spring or weight loaded waste valve sometimes known as the "clack" valve and a delivery valve. Water flows into the structure, pushes the weight or "ram" upwards. The waste valve closes and the ram now drives the water uphill as it falls. (Aided by: Monaghan Tourism)

Hike name The Rossmore Loop
Distance 7.5km
Elevation gain 185m
Approximate duration 2-2.5hours
Difficulty Beginner
Route type Loop
Starting point See AllTrails Rossmore Forest Park Loop
Amenities Car park, picnic tables
Dog-friendly? Yes
Tips Have kids? There is a children's park near the car park for extra fun after your walk

Name: Hollywood Lake
Location: Google Map: Hollywood Lake, Co Monaghan. The park is signposted off the Ballinode to Scotstown road
Description: Small lakeside park with wooden pier
Amenities: Parking, picnic area and toilet
Lifeguard: no
Water quality: Generally very good. Tested by Monaghan Co Council (20 samples over four years)
Tips: Do the gorgeous nature walk afterwards

Park name: Rossmore Forest Park, Monaghan town
Amenities: Woodland and lakeside walks and family cycling trails. This former demesne of Rossmore Castle also has a great variety of mature trees including Scots pine, cedars and giant redwoods and yew trees.
Special features: a wonderful play park for children with a spectacular sculpture trail.
Access: Car parking. Google Map "Rossmore Forest Park".
Dogs: dogs must be kept on leads.
Tip: Download the map from and plan your walks in advance.

Name: Town Park, Ballybay
Equipment: Rower, bicycle, chest press, let pull-down, walker, cross trainer, chin-up bars, dip bars.
Location: Google Maps
Information: The park, which sits on the shores of Lough Major, has parking facilities, picnic areas, toilets, walking trails, football/basketball court, outdoor gym, fishing stands and an inclusive playground.

Town Park, Ballybay.

Get Active Series
- 32 great walking routes in Ireland - one in each county
- 32 great hikes in Ireland
- 32 great running routes
- 32 great outdoor swim locations
- 32 great cycling routes
- 32 great parks
- 32 great outdoor gyms