Ards Forest Park

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  • Home Life in Donegal

Ards Forest Park

Public Parks are perfect places for days out. There are usually lots of facilities and things to do. Let's take a look at Donegal's favourite public park, which is Ards Forest Park.

Ards Forest Park is located right beside Sheephaven Bay in North Donegal. This makes it one of the few parks in Ireland that includes a sandy beach and a rocky shoreline.

There is lots to do for children, including a large playground, a games room, pitch & putt and crazy golf.

A range of animal species lives in the park. If you keep your eyes peeled, you may see red squirrels, field mice, rabbits, hares or hedgehogs. Carniverous animals that can be spotted include foxes, badgers, stoats and otters.

History of the Park

After the Flight of the Earls in 1607, the lands of Ards and the surrounding territory were granted by the British Crown to Turlough Óg O'Boyle in return for his continuing loyalty. However, following the family's part on the Irish side of the 1641 Insurrection, the O'Boyles lost their lands. By 1700, they had passed to the Wray family.

The Wrays remained in possession until 1782 when the lands were sold to Alexander Stewart, brother of the then Marquis of Londonderry. The Stewart family held Ards until 1926, when the Irish Land Commission finally broke the great estate up following its acquisition of the land.

The park has many features of historical and archaeological interest. The remains of four ring forts can be seen, as well as a number of megalithic tombs. Legend has it that these were the beds of Diarmuid and Grainne in their flight from Fionn Mac Cumhaill.

A Holy Well - the Ague Well - which is reputed to have curative powers, can be found on Bealach na hArdaigh Walk. On the same walk there is a Mass Rock where Mass was celebrated in defiance of the Penal Laws. There are numerous viewing points on the walks and trails with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.