animal friendly, Cavan, Cavan County, Coilte, court cairn, court tombs, Cultural heritage, culture, dog, forest, Heritage, History, Ireland, Killykeen, megalithic, megalithic tombs, nature, Neolithic, prehistoric, prehistory, reserves, tourism, walk, walking trails
Killykeen Forest Park has been a place that I have visited since I was a child. I remember visiting the park and going for walks with my family from a very young age. Many summers were spent swimming and fishing at Killykeen and all are very happy memories. Cavan, the lake county is said to have a lake for every day of the year and at Killykeen you can see how we got the name. The lake is stunning and seems to go on for as far as the eye can see. However this lake is part of a larger water system that joins up with many other lakes in Cavan including Lough Oughter which houses the beautiful Clogh Oughter Castle that I mentioned in a previous post.
The walks around Killykeen are so beautiful and there are walks to suit every need whether you want a short twenty-minute stroll in nature or an hour-long walk through the woods. The paths are well laid out with arrows directing you which are coloured coded so you know which trail you are on.
I have recently started going out to Killykeen quite regularly with my dog as he loves to be able to walk without having to be pulled into the verge every time a car comes by. The area is so peaceful and it is a rare occasion that you will meet someone on the walk.
One thing about Killykeen that is quite disappointing is that there used to be a restaurant, community hall area, this has been closed for years now and I have to say it is a big lose to the area. I really think that if someone was business minded they would be able to turn this disused building into something that would encourage the public out to the park. With no amenities it means that you are less inclined to spend a day out at Killykeen. If there were decent toilets and somewhere to go get a bite to eat and an ice cream I think that this park would become one of the strongest tourist spots in Cavan. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be going that way which is a pity.
If you are interested in history, Killykeen offers a hidden gem. Nestled in amongst the woods you will find two megalithic court tombs or cairns. These are not the easiest to find and with no sign post near the site or panel explaining the structures for some it would be a difficult to appreciate. However, these monuments are great examples of court cairns and should be celebrated and promoted more in the county. As a prehistory fan, having worked at Knowth before, I am very familiar with the various megalithic monuments that are dotted around Ireland’s landscape. However there are many who would not be familiar and would be at pains to know the difference between a court cairn and a wedge tomb.
Here I think there is a missed opportunity to share this history with the public and engage with them. There is no information to say what this collection of stones represents only that is falls under the remit of the OPW (Office of Public Works). I think that this is an issue the Heritage Office in Cavan could tackle. It would be quite easy to create a weather proof panel that could stand at the site to explain the history of these monuments. It would add greatly to the site and help people to understand their heritage more. Hopefully this is something that will be resolved in the future as it really would be a shame to see something like this tarnish the reputation of heritage in the county and how we treat it.
Overall Killykeen is a beautiful area, it is owned by Coilte and you can see that there is pride taken in maintaining the forest and the walks.
If you want to go get away from the hustle and bustle of a busy town and unwind then it is the place to be. There are chalets that can be rented out throughout the year that would give someone the chance to holiday beside a beautiful lake and in a tranquil surrounding. If nothing else it offers a peaceful place to bring the dog for a walk and a swim.