Did you know that just 500 metres off one of our busiest motorways is the most tranquil lake you can imagine?
Just off the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway at Junction 3, this is an ideal spot to stretch your legs, walk the dogs or tire the little one’s out with some exploring so they sleep the rest of the journey home.
Curious to learn a little more about this beauty spot I spoke to local gentleman, Matt Doyle. He told me that many years ago the lake was over 200 acres in size and at the time of the famine, Lord Castletown ordered the lake to be drained in order to create more work for the area. This reduced the lake to its current size, which is about 24 acres – quite a difference!
Today much of the overgrowth that surrounded the lake when I was a child has now been cleared and we can see a few items of history. In the lake itself, we can now see a crannóg. Towards the west, it is possible to see what was a Tower house in the field adjacent to the Nature Reserve. It has been found that there are a series of these tower houses in the area and fires would have been lit on top to protect & warn the MacGiollaPadraig clan (the local ruling clan), of oncoming threat. Looking in the same direction, the highest point of land that you can see is called the Crown of Ossory, and this is actually the highest point in the Diocese of Ossory!
The National Parks & Wildlife Service, together with local volunteer groups, such as the Cullohill Durrow Angling Club (http://www.durrowcullohillanglers.com/), have put in place accessible facilities such as a car park, walking trails and wheelchair accessible angling jetties along with some picnic benches adjacent to the jetties as well as re-planting native trees such as Beech, Ash & Oak.
Depending on the time of year, on your visit you may meet some locals doing a quick loop – you will circumnavigate the lake in 30 minutes – anglers enjoying the solitude and stillness or the two resident swans – and maybe their cygnets!
A fantastic amenity that nature has provided for our enjoyment – lets get out and explore!
For more fun exploring in the area, gather together children, dogs, wellies and jackets and head for Killamuck Bog walk just outside Abbeyleix where there is a very fancy Bugingham Palace hotel for creepy crawlie guests to stay at for a few days! More below…