The festival will be based out of two picturesque villages over the weekend, Clonaslee in Laois and Kinnitty in Offaly. Both of these villages are set on the foothills of the mountains and provide a splendid base for which to explore the region from. After a good days trekking they are ideal locations to kick back, relax and enjoy a chat and a drink with the locals, with entertainment provided both nights.
Transformed from its previous incarnation as a commercial bog where peat was harvested to heat homes around the country, today Lough Boora Discovery Park is home to countless species of birds and wildlife, fish-filled lakes and a permanent exhibition of huge outdoor sculptures. These sculptures give the park an other-worldly feel, created using the old industrial materials of the bog such as locomotives, rail-line and timber, all crafted into magnificent works of art.
The park is in a continuous state of flux depending on the season. Birds depart or arrive, breed and rear their young. Plants flower and fungi appear and disappear, while the resident animals go about their lives. Leave all traces of urban-living behind as you hop on your bike and cycle around the wide open spaces of Lough Boora bog and sculpture park. Watch out for fast-moving hares that skip across the paths as you cycle by and don’t forget to stop-off at one of the many bird-hides for a glimpse of our feathered-friends up close and personal. There’s also 4 lakes in this 2,000 hectare site of cutaway bog, now a nature-lovers’ paradise. We promise you’ll feel free as a bird in Offaly’s own big sky wilderness.
The raised bogs of the Midlands of Ireland evolved after the last Ice Age, around 15,000 years ago. Mesolithic people wandered through Ireland and one of the most important Mesolithic sites in Ireland is at Lough Boora. Two sites were excavated in 1977. You can visit the site of the ancient settlement by following the Mesolithic Route.
Experience all that Lough Boora Discovery Park has to offer outdoor enthusiasts, keen botanists, nature lovers, and arts and culture fans including:
Three off-road Cycle Routes ranging in distance from 6km to 15.8km
The Offaly Way is a linear route linking the Slieve Bloom Way, (at Cadamstown) to Lemanaghan Monastic Site, and to the Grand Canal Way. Only 37kms long, it nonetheless includes areas of mountain and riverside as well as long stretches of bogland. Though the highest point is only 140m, much of the Way commands wide views over a comparatively flat landscape. The route has ecclesiastical and prehistoric interest.
The Way starts in Cadamstown, with the Slieve Bloom Way less than 2 km away. Just north of here is an interesting geological formation where a fine outcrop of rock has been exposed by erosion caused by the Silver River. The waterfalls and gorge along here are most attractive features. The Way crosses the Black River and ascends Knock Hill, at 140m the highest point on the Way, before descending into Ballyboy. Here the Way crosses the Silver River and runs along its bank into the town of Kilcormac. The town holds the Kilcormac Pietà, a 16th century representation of the Virgin Mary mourning over the body of Christ. For 60 years, during a time of persecution, the pieta was hidden in a bog.
Beyond Kilcormac, the Way enters Boora Bog, an area of peatland formerly harvested for turf. Now a wide variety of uses, including amenity use, are being encouraged. Nearby is Lough Boora, formerly a lake and now a fen and nature reserve. This area is of great historical interest since excavations have revealed Mesolithic remains. Close to the end of the present phase of the Way at the Grand Canal is Turraun Nature Reserve, formerly a cutaway bog and now an area where more than 80 species of birds and 150 species of plants have been recorded. The birds include a flock of 200 Whopper Swans.
Thanks to Killian O’ Brien from Offaly County Council for sharing this info.
Please check out http://www.visitoffaly.ie/ for more great things to do in Offaly!
The Slieve Bloom Mountains are a mountain range in the midlands of Ireland that span through Offaly and Laois. The highest point is a modest 527M but the scale of the mountains are extensive. The mountain range is bordered by towns such as Clonaslee, Mountrath, Roscrea, Rosenallis, Clonaslee, Cadamstown Kinnitty and Mountmellick. The Slieve Bloom mountains are amongst the oldest in Europe and once they stood at 3700M before weathering and erosion reduced them to the current size of 527M.
The walking trails range from looped walks, long distance way-marked walks or unguided walks but don’t forget a map and compass if you are not going as part of a group! Organized walks are held every week by the Slieve Bloom Mountains Walking Group and it’s a great way to learn the full mountain history from the local experienced guides. A full list of the walks can be found at the following link.