Tollymore Forest Park

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Coordinates: 54°12′58″N 5°55′01″W / 54.216°N 5.917°W / 54.216; -5.917

Tollymore Forest Park, September 2010

Tollymore Forest Park is the first state forest park in Northern Ireland, established on 2 June 1955. It is located at Bryansford, near the town of Newcastle. Covering an area of 630 hectares (1,600 acres) at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, the forest park offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle. The forest has four walking trails signposted by different coloured arrows, the longest being the "long haul trail" at 8 miles (13 km) long. The Shimna River flows through the park. Tollymore was listed in The Sunday Times top twenty British picnic sites for 2000. The Forest Park is now owned and run by the Forest Service NI, part of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.[1]


Foley's Bridge, taken in 1880.
Bridge in Tollymore

Tollymore features many follies including a barn dressed up to look like a church, stone cones atop gate piers and gothic-style gate arches. All show the influence of the highly individualistic designer, Thomas Wright of Durham (1711–1786), who was a friend of Lord Clanbrassil (Earl of Roden), owner of Tollymore at the time. Walks along the Shimna river are marked by many natural and artificial features – rocky outcrops, bridges, grottos and caves. There are also experimental forest plots of exotic trees such as monkey puzzle and eucalyptus and giant redwoods and Monterey pines. Oak wood from Tollymore was the preferred material for the interiors of the White Star liners including the RMS Titanic built in Belfast. The original tree of the slow-growing spruce, Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana', which originated nearby in about 1750, remains and is the oldest tree in any arboretum in Ireland. An avenue of Deodar cedars is a striking feature of the entrance.[2] The Forest Park also has camping and caravanning facilities.[1]


The earliest mention of Tollymore was in records dated 1611 when it was stated that the Maginness family of Upper Iveagh received a grant of 7.5 townlands including the Estate of Tollymore, from James I. This remained in the family until about 1685 when Bryan Maginness died unmarried and his sister Ellen, who had married Captain William Hamilton of Ayrshire, inherited the land. The Hamilton family remained owners of Tollymore until 1798. The great grandson of William Hamilton, James, died in 1798 without children and Tollymore was transferred to his sister Anne, who married Robert Jocelyn, 1st Earl of Roden. The Roden family continued in possession of Tollymore throughout the 19th century, and in 1930 the Robert Jocelyn, 8th Earl of Roden sold part of the estate to the Ministry of Agriculture for afforestation purposes. The remainder was sold to the Ministry in 1941.[3]


Birds: Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major).[4]


Tollymore Forest Park in autumn

Algae: Nitella flexilis (L.) Ag. var. flexilis.[5] Pteridophyta: Hymenophyllum wilsonii Hooker; Phegopteris connectilis (Michx.) Watt; Polystichum aculeatum (L.) Roth; Dryopteris aemula (Ait.) Kuntze.[5]

Angiospermae: Acaena ovalifolia Ruiz & Pavon; Acaena novae-zelandiae Kirk; Rosa arvensis Huds; Prunus padus L.; Circaea × intermedia Ehrh; Pyrola minor L.; Scrophularia auriculata L. Mimulus moschatus Dougl. ex Lindl.; Melampyrum pratense L.; Lathraea squamaria L. Pinguicula lusitanica L.; Mentha gentilis L.; Sambucus ebulus L.; Erigeron karvinskianus DC; Hieracium senescens Backhouse; Hieracium argenteum Fr.; Hieracium duriceps F. J. Hanbury; Hieracium grandidens Dahlst.; Hieracium stewartii (L.) Willd.; Neottia nidus-avis (L.) Rich.; Carex laevigata Sm.; Carex pallescens L.; Carex pilulifera L.; Festuca altissima All.; Melica uniflora Retz; Milium effusum L.[5]


In 2005 the 10th Earl of Roden published a history of Tollymore, his family's estate, entitled Tollymore: The History of an Irish Demesne.


  1. ^ a b "Tollymore Forest Park". Forest Service NI. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  2. ^ "Tollymore Forest Park". Discover Northern Ireland. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  3. ^ "Tollymore Forest Park". The Mourne Mountains. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  4. ^ A. M. G. McComb, R. Kernohan, P. Mawhirt, B. Robinson, J. Weir & B. Wells (2010). "Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major): proof of breeding in Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down". Irish Naturalists' Journal 31: 66–67. 
  5. ^ a b c P. Hackney, ed. (1992). Stewart & Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland (3rd ed.). Institute of Irish Studies & Queen's University, Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-446-9. 

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