There was great celebrations at Lough Key forest Park, Boyle last Thursday September 6 when Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht officially opened the new mooring and services facility.
The development of floating jetties and marina accommodated 50 boats and further enhances the North Shannon as a major boating and tourism destination and maximises the full tourism and recreational potential of the park and the waterway. The development which included Waterways Ireland, Roscommon County Council, Moylurg Rockingham Ltd and Fáilte Ireland cost €875,000.
Minister Deenihan and Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Permanent Secretary Rosalie Flanagan were shown the delights of the area with a 20 minute boat ride into Boyle and back to Lough Key.
The new marina also has low level access ramps provided for canoes and small boats and the service block of toilets and showers, pump out and electricity bollards meets international standards and will attract water tourists.
Opening the marina Minister Deenihan said “This new waterside development at Lough Key Forest will certainly ensure that the long tradition of visitors to the lake and parklands will continue well into the future. Lough Key has for many centuries drawn people to its spectacular views, abundant wildlife, historic buildings and evocative islands. This beautiful landscape is steeped in a rich history.” He told the crowd he was “very very impressed” with the Lough Key centre and exclaimed “you will not be bored here,” after seeing the range of activities in the area. The Minister said the money was well spent and Boyle/ Leitrim area will benefit from more visitors.
Local man John Martin, Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland said he was “absolutely delighted” to be at the launch. “Waterways Ireland is delighted to be able to provide this hugely expanded base for locals and tourists to engage in a range of soft adventure and leisure pursuits, including angling, boating/cruising, walking, and cycling. This will suit the 6500+ boats which visit Lough Key each year through Clarendon Lock and this number is expected to rise now that the facility is fully online”
Mr Martin said Lough Key is a “very special lake” because of it’s rich history. John Martin has himself a huge personal attachment to the area, he grew up just down the road, saw Rockingham House on fire, learned to swim and row on the lake and took his first job at Lough Key.
Roscommon Mayor Tom Crosbie said the visitor numbers are growing steadily and Lough Key Forest Park has already recorded 52,000 visitors this year. Mayor Crosbie also spoke about the importance of developing Lough Key Forest Park for the entire region.
Fiona Monaghan from Failte Ireland said it was a “momentous day for Lough Key.” She said the Lakelands region is now flourishing as a tourist destination.
Lough Key Forest Park provides a Tree Canopy Walk, 19th Century Servant Tunnels, Moylurg Tower, Boda Borg, Lakeside Cafe, Gift Shop, Caravan & Camping Park, Adventure Play Kingdom, Forest & Parkland Trails, Bog Gardens, Lakeside Walks, 19th Century Bridges and Zipit adventure.