KNOCKMA FOREST PARK

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If you are looking for a magical and scenic place to visit in Galway, you might want to consider Knockma Forest Park. This park offers a beautiful hillside circular walk through a woodland filled with fairy folklore and legend.

Knockma Forest Park is located about 8 km west of the town of Tuam, and covers an area of 65 hectares. The park is named after Knockma Hill, which is also known as the Hill of Maeve, the legendary Queen of Connacht. According to tradition, Maeve and Finvarra, the King of the Connacht fairies, are buried in the two cairns on the summit of the hill. The cairns date back to the Bronze Age and are surrounded by ancient trees and wildflowers.

The walk starts from the car park, where you can find a map and some information boards. The walking trail at Knockma Woods is a looped trail that is about 4.2 km long. It is an easy to moderate walk, suitable for most fitness levels. The trail is well marked with signs and arrows, and follows a mix of forest roads and paths. The trail has four sections: the Forest Loop, the Avenue Loop, Finvarra’s Trail, and Queen Maeve Trail.

The Forest Loop is the longest section of the trail, and starts from the car park. It takes you up through a lovely woodland setting, where you can see hazel, oak, and ash trees. You might also spot some fairy doors at the base of some trees, as this area is believed to be full of magic and mystery. The Forest Loop leads you to the summit of Knockma Hill, where you will see two large cairns. These are said to be the tombs of Queen Maeve and Ceasair, one of the earliest colonists of Ireland.

The Avenue Loop is a shorter section of the trail that branches off from the Forest Loop. It leads you away from Knockma Hill and then back again. This section offers some nice views of the countryside and the nearby Finvarra Castle.

Finvarra’s Trail is the final section of the trail that brings you back to the car park. This section takes you through an area that resembles the Burren in North Clare, with exposed limestone pavements and cracks. These are said to be the gateways to the otherworlds, where Finvarra, the king of the fairies, holds his court. Finvarra’s Trail also passes by a memorial for Colonel Patrick Kelly, an American Civil War officer who was born near Knockma Hill.

The Queen Maeve Trail is a short detour from the Finvarra Trail and a chance to visit the site where Queen Maeve is said to be buried. This is a 300m trail that will take you only a few minutes to complete, before rejoining the Finvarra Trail.

Knockma Forest Park is open all year round and is free to enter. There are no facilities in the park, so make sure to bring your own water and snacks. There are also no bins in the park, so please take your rubbish with you and leave no trace. The park is dog-friendly, but dogs must be kept on a leash at all times. The park is accessible by car with parking on-site.

Knockma Forest Park is a wonderful place to visit for anyone who loves nature, history, and mythology. It is a place where you can immerse yourself in the beauty and mystery of Ireland’s landscape and culture. Whether you are looking for a relaxing stroll or a challenging hike, you will find something to suit your taste and ability at Knockma Forest Park.

LOCATION

53.488030, -8.968820

Knockma Forest Park

GALLERY

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