Here in the midlands there are loads of other fun things to do that don’t cost you a thing! Offaly has loads of fun activities to do with the family. One fine example is a day trip to Lough Boora.
Open all year round this lake has it all! Situated near Tullamore, Birr and Clonmacnois in County Offaly, you can enjoy many fun activities from bike hire, hiking, bird watching from bird hides, and angling. As Lough Boora is situated near the Slieve Bloom mountains which links Offaly and Laois, it has some of Ireland’s most magnificent views.
Lough Boora has unique and beautiful scenery, and the walks vary in distance giving you the choice of what distance you want to hike from 3km to 15km! You may even need a few day trips to get the full experience of the 50km’s of trails that the discovery park has to offer! While on these walks you will observe the unique flora and fauna of this 50 hectare wildlife and nature reserve which is home to the many swans, hares, foxes, cattle, sheep and rare birds!
Scattered around the trails are beautiful artistic sculptures, bog land, and of course the many small lakes that dot the countryside.
Lough Boora is rich is history and is home to an ancient Mesolithic site (the middle stone age site) which dates between 8000-4000BC. The first Irish settlers are traced back to the Mesolithic era and Lough Boora holds evidence of one of the earliest human settlements in Ireland.
The Mesolithic era began after the last ice age, when the climate warmed and the last of the ice retreated. Underneath the bogs of Lough Boora contained the remains of Mesolithic weapons such as stone arrows and spears, which have been excavated here. Back then this post-glacial lake was a lot larger than it is today but now there still remains several lakes scattered throughout the beautiful scenery.
You can visit the ancient campsite settlements by taking the Mesolithic trail in the park. The bog was cherished by the people of Ireland for it preservation powers and was used commonly to keep food fresh.The bogland turf was used for heat by the Irish people and many also used the bog was a place of comfort and refuge.
Lough Boora is a fun place to take the kids as it is known to be the home to many fairies, who live there in Fairy Avenue in Discovery Park! Why not take the kids to explore this mystical fairy avenue and visit the tiny homes these fairies live in and find out more about them! If you are lucky you might even see them out having their monthly gathering under the full moon where they share and swap stories of the past! See Lough Boora Discovery Park Website for full details.
The walking tours can be enjoyed by all age groups. Starting at the visitors centre, you can choose a short stroll to a longer trek depending on your preference. The sculpture park route takes you down the route to see the 24 innovative artistic sculptures such as the Boora Pyramid. Or you may choose to see the Ancient Middle Stone Age settlements which date back to 6800 BC by taking the Mesolithic trail. If you want to see thriving wildlife, you could take the Farmland route. If angling is what you are after, the Finnamore Lake route would be for you. And finally if you want to see the best the bogland has to offer the Turraun route may be for you. Below lists the walking routes available.
Sculpture Park Route | 3.3km
Mesolithic Route | 9.3km
Farmland Route | 6km
Finnamore Lakes Route | 11.7km
Turraun Route | 15.8km
If you feel some of the trails are a bit too long for walking, then you can cycle on 3 of the routes. You can rent a bike in Lough Boora Discovery Park from as little €5/hour or €10 for a half day. There is even a stretch of 9km of tarmacadam car free zone where you can take the children biking. Below lists the cycling routes.
Mesolithic Route | 9.3km
Farmland Route | 6km
Turraun Route | 15.8k
As areas of Lough Boora came out of commercial peat production, a number of still water fishing lakes were developed. These were made by removing the remaining peat in the boglands so the proposed lakes would be deep enough to hold water settlements. The lakes holds game and coarse fish as well as aquatic plants so it is now a thriving angling area. The lakes are also stocked regularly. Many of the lakes require permits to fish there. Below is a selection of the Angling Lakes.
Boora Lake | Coarse fishery
Loch an Dochais | All Levels
Finnamore Lake | Coarse fishery
Loch Clochan | Trout Fishing and Fly fishery
Over 130 species of birds have been spotted in the park including some endangered species such as wild Grey Partridge. There are many excellent vantage viewpoints throughout the park to observe the local and migrant birds. Below is a list of the viewpoints.