Castlemartyr or Baile na Martra ‘town of the martyrdom’ hints at the village’s eventful history. Tales of sieges, hangings, wild boars, lepers, knights, Earls, illustrious and infamous names such as Sir Walter Raleigh, the Boyle Family, Earls of Shannon and Oliver Cromwell have all links here.
This woodland was once part of a larger demesne that originated around the latter end of the 17th century. If you consider the wood along with the wider grounds of the Hotel you can imagine times past when landscape architects such as Lancelot ‘Capability‘ Brown were engaged to style the countryside. The old names of Mitchells’ Wood, Barn Wood and Pigeon Wood refer back to this era.
Walk: There are three walking trails within these woods. Pigeon’s Wood Loop (1 km, 20mins, easy) has a number of man-built features from bygone days to observe including; pillars from the former estate, a man-made lake from which there are wonderful views of the old Mansion house, now a hotel; Mitchell’s Wood Loop (2.4 km, 50 mins, easy) starts and ends at the trailhead, using a footbridge to cross the Kiltha River. Ladysbridge Loop (4.7km, 1 hour 30 mins, easy) links Castlemartyr and Ladysbridge villages together. Watch out for otters and Kingfishers when you are close to the Womanagh River on this trail.
Castlemartyr woodland should be viewed in the wider historical and geographical context of the former Boyle or Earl of Shannon estate. It is a wonderful example of the fine house, the planned landscapes with the lake, specimen parkland trees and adjoining woodland and carriage paths.
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