Tollymore Forest Park

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Tollymore Forest Park
Tollymore Forest Park, September 2010 (10).JPG
A wooden footbridge crossing the Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park
Geography
Map showing the location of Tollymore Forest Park
Map showing the location of Tollymore Forest Park
Location of Tollymore Forest Park
Location Down, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Coordinates 54°12′58″N 5°55′01″W / 54.216°N 5.917°W / 54.216; -5.917Coordinates: 54°12′58″N 5°55′01″W / 54.216°N 5.917°W / 54.216; -5.917
Area 630 hectares (1,600 acres)
Established 2 June 1955
Governing body Forest Service Northern Ireland

Tollymore Forest Park was the first state forest park in Northern Ireland, established on 2 June 1955. It is located at Bryansford, near the town of Newcastle in the Mourne and Slieve Croob Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It covers an area of 630 hectares (1,600 acres) at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and has views of the surrounding mountains and the sea at nearby Newcastle. The Shimna River flows through the park where it is crossed by 16 bridges, the earliest dating to 1726. The river is a spawning ground for salmon and trout and is an Area of Special Scientific Interest due to its geology, flora and fauna. The forest has four walking trails signposted by different coloured arrows, the longest being the "long haul trail" at 8 miles (13 km) long. It was listed in The Sunday Times top twenty British picnic sites for 2000. The Forest Park has been managed by the Forest Service since they purchased it from the Roden Estate in 1941.

History[edit]

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 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.[1]

During the 1800s, the forest contained five saw mills for processing felled trees. The mills were located on the banks of the Shimna River and powered by water. Millponds stored water, which during dry periods was released to turn the water wheels. The millponds are still located in the forest but are no longer in use.[2]

Between 1994 and 2003, four flint artefacts were discovered in the park, close to the Shimna River. A flake, two blades and a concave scraper were found in two locations the forest. The flake, scraper and one of the blades were identified as prehistoric. The second blade was identified as Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic. A fifth artefact, a Bronze Age barbed and tanged arrowhead, was found in a nearby field.[3]

Structures, follies and bridges[edit]

Clanbrassil barn
The Hermitage, Tollymore Forest Park
Horn Bridge

Tollymore features many follies whose design were influenced by Thomas Wright of Durham, a friend of James Hamilton, 1st Earl of Clanbrassil.[4] At the entrance and exit to the park there are Gothic gate arches built by James Hamilton, 2nd Earl of Clanbrassil (Viscount Limerick). The gate and gate lodge at the exit were built in 1786 and, along with the front walling, are grade B1 listed structures.[5] The barbican gate, also of Gothic design, is located on the main drive at the entrance to the park. It was built in 1780 and is a B+ listed building.[6]

Clanbrassil barn, located near the exit to the park, was built in around 1757 by James Hamilton (1st Earl of Clanbrassil). The building was designed to look like a church. A steeple containing a bell, clock and sundial was added to the east end of the building in 1789. The barn, attached Gothic gate and wall are grade B1 listed buildings. The barn functioned as a stable and store until 1971. The ground floor now contains toilets and an education room.[7][8]

A granite obelisk, located on a small grassy hill near the main drive, was built in between 1812 and 1820 by Robert Jocelyn, 2nd Earl of Roden as a monument to his son James Bligh Jocelyn who died of an asthma attack while serving in the navy.[9]

There are numerous artificial and natural features along the Shimna River, including bridges, grottos and caves. The Hermitage is a small stone shelter designed by James Hamilton (2nd Earl of Clanbrassil) in the 1770s in memory to his friend the Marquis of Monthermer. It is built into the side of the gorge above the river and was used as a place for ladies to shelter while the men fished.[10][11] There is an inscription in Greek within the Hermitage which translates as "Clanbrassil, to his very dear friend Monthermer 1770".[7]

The Shimna river is crossed by 16 bridges as it flows through Tollymore. The Old Bridge, built by James Hamilton in 1726, is the oldest of the current bridges. The Ivy Bridge was built in 1780 and Foley’s Bridge in 1787. Parnell Bridge, named in recognition of Sir John Parnell who visited Tollymore in the late 18th century, was constructed in 1842. It was the last stone bridge to be built in Tollymore. The more recent footbridges are constructed from wood.[10] Horn bridge crosses a small culverted stream and is crossed by a gravel road. The stream below the bridge is covered with a board walk connected to a path. It was built c.1770 by either the 1st or 2nd Earl.[12]

The King's Grave is a megalithic cairn located in the western end of the park. It is 22 yards (20 m) across and 10 feet (3.0 m) high and dates to 1000 - 1500 BC.[13][14][15]

In 2014, the Mourne Heritage Trust carried out restoration work on 15 structures within the park including the granite monument, both gates, the hermitage, Foley's Bridge, Horn Bridge and the Old Bridge.[16]

Zoology[edit]

Tollymore contains a population of approximately 120-150 wild Fallow deer, which have been in the park since the 1970s.[2] The forest service carry out a cull of the deer once a year, to keep the population from becoming too large.[17]

Red squirrels were first recorded in the park in 1880, although they are likely to have been present before then. A decline in numbers was noticed in 2004. A rise in grey squirrel numbers, first seen in the park approximately 10 years previously, was noted at the same time. Since then The Tollymore Red Squirrel Group, consisting of volunteers, forest service staff and members of the Mourne Heritage Trust, have been working to preserve the species within the forest by providing additional food and attempting to reduce the numbers of grey squirrels.[18] In 2011 approximately 90% of the park’s red squirrel population were killed by squirrel pox, passed on by the grey squirrels. The following year there were only an estimated 10 to 15 red squirrels remaining, however numbers were starting to rise again.[19] Although an approximately 50% increase in red squirrel sightings was reported during the later part of 2013, exact numbers are not know as the Tollymore Red Squirrel Group were unable to carry out their annual survey in October 2013.[20]

In 2007 a breeding pair of great spotted woodpeckers, which are rarely seen in Ireland, were recorded in Tollymore for the first time. Another breeding pair, along with juveniles, were spotted in the park in 2009 and 2010. Evidence of nesting in previous years has also been observed.[21] Kingfishers and dippers can also be seen in the park, close to the river.[7] A population of approximately 20-30 pairs of feral Mandarin ducks have been present on the Shimna river and on a pond within the park since 1978. Tollymore and the Shimna river are the only place in Ireland where Mandarins have been recorded.[22][23]

Pine martens, which are one of the rarest native mammal species in Ireland,[24] are frequently spotted in the park by volunteers monitoring the squirrels.[25] Badgers, foxes and otters are also present in the forest[26]

Botany[edit]

Himalayan cedars along the main drive

The arboretum in Tollymore was started in 1752 and is one of the oldest in Ireland. It contains trees from many different parts of the world, including the remains of a giant redwood which was struck by lightning.[7]

The most common trees in the park are ash (Fraxinus excelsior), beech (Fagus sylvatica) , birch and Oak (including Quercus robur and Quercus ilex). Larch, Sitka spruce and willow are also found in reasonable quantities. Other trees present include field maple (Acer campestre), Himalayan cedars (Cedrus deodara), coast Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii) and yew (Taxus baccata).[27][22] There are also experimental plots of exotic trees such as monkey puzzle, eucalyptus, giant redwoods and Monterey pines.[28]

The slow growing spruce Picea abies 'Clanbrassiliana' originated near the park in 1750. The orginal tree of this species is the oldest tree found in any arboretum in Ireland. Wood from the oak trees in Tollymore was uses by Harland and Wolff for the interiors of the White Star liners, including the RMS Titanic.[28]

In 2011 there was an outbreak of the tree disease Phytophthora lateralis, affecting approximately 800 Lawson cypress trees over a two hector area. Felling of infected trees was carried out to prevent further spread.[29][30]

Shrub species found in the park include Rhododendron, elderberry, blackberry, laurel and ivy. Lawn areas contain bent (various Agrostis species) buttercups, clover, dandelions, meadow grass and perennial reygrass (Lolium perenne).[22] In 2012, 50 hectors of the invasive Rhododendron ponticum was removed from forests in the Mourne area, including Tollymore. The project was carried out to improve the quality of the woodland and prevent the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, which the species in know to host.[31]

Algae (Nitella flexilis) and ferns (Hymenophyllum wilsonii, Phegopteris connectilis, Polystichum aculeatum and Dryopteris aemula) are also common.[32] Other plant species include: [32]

Uses[edit]

Recreation[edit]

The park has designated areas for camping and caravans.[34]

There are four official walking trails within the forest each marked with different coloured sign posts. All the trails start and end in the main car park. The blue tail (Arboretum Path) is half a mile long and passes through the arboretum. The red tail (River Trail) is three miles long and follows the Shimna River up one side as far as Parnell’s bridge and then back along the other side. The black trail (Mountain Trail) is five and half miles long and the black trail 1 (The Drinns Trail) adds another three miles to the black trail by passing behind The Drinns (two forested hills) and following the boundary wall. The Ulster Way also passes through the forest.[7]

Filming[edit]

The forest has been used as a filming location for the TV series Game of Thrones and the film Dracula Untold.[35][36]

Publications[edit]

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

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tollymore Forest Park". The Mourne Mountains. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  2. ^ a b "The World Around Us at Tollymore Forest Park". DARD. p. 9. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  3. ^ McComb, Anne (2005). "Random Finds of Flint Objects in the Area of the Shimna River, near Bryansford, County Down". Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Third Series 64: 172–173 – via JSTOR. (subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ Stewart, Linda (January 5, 2013). "See the Wood for the Trees". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2014 – via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Historic Building Details - Byransford gate and gate lodge". DOE NI. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  6. ^ "Historic Building Details -Barbican gate". DOE NI. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Tollymore Forest Park". NI Direct. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Historic Building Details - Clandrassil barn". DOE NI. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Historic Building Details - Monument". DOE NI. Retrieved 31 October 2014. 
  10. ^ a b McKee, Linda (January 3, 2009). "Enjoy a Tolly good walk in the heart of Narnia country; WALK THIS WAY". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2014 – via HighBeam. (subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ "Historic Building Details - Hermitage". DOE NI. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  12. ^ "Historic Building Details - Horn Bridge". Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Evans, Emyr Estyn (1951). Mourne Country: Landscape and Life in South Down. Dundalgan Press. p. 207. 
  14. ^ Northern Ireland. Ancient monuments advisory council (1940). A preliminary survey of the ancient monuments of northern Ireland. H.M. Stationery office. p. 135. 
  15. ^ Fairbairn, Helen and McCormack, Gareth (2010). Hiking in Ireland. Lonely Planet. p. 258. ISBN 9781741044683. 
  16. ^ "Restoration project to preserve structures for future generations". Mourne Observer. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 4 November 2014. 
  17. ^ Carne, Peter (2000). Deer of Britain and Ireland: Their Origins and Distribution. Swan Hill Press. p. 174. ISBN 9781840370911. 
  18. ^ "Red Squirrel Groups in Northern Ireland". DOE NI. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "Return of the red squirrel after devastating virus". Belfast Telegraph. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 24 November 2014. 
  20. ^ "Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) meeting". DOE NI. 31 January 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  21. ^ 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 – via JSTOR. (subscription required (help)). 
  22. ^ a b c Mathers, R. G. (Oct 1996). "Abundance of a naturalized population of Mandarin duck Aix galericulata (L.) and the habitat suitability in the Shimna valley, co Down, Northern Ireland". The Irish Naturalists' Journal 25 (8): 280–285 – via JSTOR. (subscription required (help)). 
  23. ^ Malcolm Ogilvie and the Rare breeding birds panel (1999). "Non-Native birds breeding in the UK in 1996". British Birds 92: 179–180. 
  24. ^ "Rare pine marten 'photo-bombs' red squirrel survey". BBC. 30 April 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  25. ^ "Northern Ireland Squirrel Forum (NISF) meeting". Forestry.gov.uk. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Daugherty, Christi (2005). Frommer's Ireland 2006. John Wiley & Sons. p. 527. ISBN 9780471783817. 
  27. ^ "Monumental trees at Tollymore Forest Park in Bryansford". Monumental trees. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  28. ^ a b "Tollymore Forest Park". Discover Northern Ireland. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  29. ^ "Operation underway to prevent spread of tree disease at Tollymore Forest Park". Northern Ireland Executive. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  30. ^ "Tree disease found in Tollymore forest". BBC. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  31. ^ "Forest Service Annual Report and Accounts For the year ended 31 March 2013". Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. 2 July 2013. p. 15. Retrieved 4 December 2014. 
  32. ^ a b 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. 
  33. ^ "Acaena ovalifolia Ruiz Lopez & Pavon - Two-spined Acaena". National Museums Northern Ireland. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  34. ^ "Tollymore Forest Park". Forest Service NI. Retrieved 22 December 2008. 
  35. ^ "Set secrets to be revealed during Heritage Open Days". Irish News. 13 September 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  36. ^ Bremner, Jade (3 October 2014). "Dracula Untold filming secrets revealed". Radio Times. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 

Further reading[edit]