The magical and mythical Lough Key is so described because of it legendary origins. The name is derived from Cé, who was the king of the ancient gods or Tuatha dé Danann who ruled Ireland in the time before history. Apparently he was drowned when the lake burst forth from the earth. The surrounding areas have been inhabited for thousands of years and there are numerous ancient tomb sites throughout the Curlieu hills.
There are a few islands in the lake and the most prominent is Castle Island which is aptly named due to its large castle. This was the home of the McDermott clan, who ruled the surrounding areas during the Middle Ages.
Lough Key Forest Park, as it is currently known, was once the Rockingham estate and was inhabited by the King family, who had been the local aristocratic landlords of the area since the 18th century. The ruins of their mansion and magnificent facilities are freely available to view from within the park. Such was the enormity of their wealth that when they noticed that the McDermott castle was crumbling, they ordered the ruin to be restored so that it would not spoil their view of the lake. Well at least they had taste!
The park has become one of Ireland’s most popular attractions and nested in its treetops is the new Zipit Forest Adventure Centre. This activity park offers an adrenalin fuelled experience where you can propel yourself on zip wire through courses suspended up to 20 metres high into the trees. The Centre caters for people of all ages and is a safe and unique experience. Also within the grounds are a visitor centre and café, camping, forest walks and plenty of picnic areas where you can even barbecue. It’s a great family day out.