Lough Key (Irish: Loch Cé ) is a lake in Ireland. It is in northwest County Roscommon, northeast of the town of Boyle. The Lough’s believed to be named after a mythical figure called Ce. [1]


The name Lough Key comes from the Irish Loch Cé . In Irish mythology, CE was the Druids of the god Nuada. He was wounded in the second battle of Mag Tuired and fled south until he came to Carn Corrslebe, where he rested.He envisioned a beautiful plains full of flowers. He tried to reach it, and when he did, he died. When his grave was dug there a lake burst out of it, and flooded the entire plain. It was thus named Loch Cé after him. [2]


The lake is located in the north of the River Shannon catchment area, and is fed by the Boyle River which flows from Lough Gara, through the town of Boyle, Lough Key. From there, flowing east until it reaches just above the River Shannon Carrick-on-Shannon. Its area is 843.7 hectares (2,085 acres) and its average depth is 5.1 meters (17 feet). [3] One can see a view of the lake frånN4 way it increases the Curlew mountains after passing Boyle. The view is reinforced by a modern steel sculpture of an Irish chieftain mounted on horseback (see picture).


The area around Lough Key and the nearby town of Boyle, County Roscommon, has been inhabited for thousands of years.

The lake is several kilometers across and contains over thirty wooded islands including Castle Island, Trinity Island, Orchard Island, Stag Island, Bullock Island and Drumman Island. Castle Island has had a number of structures built on it for centuries. The earliest records dating to 1184, in the Annals of Loch Ce, where a light strike is reported to have started a fire in “The Rock of Loch-CE,” a “very magnificent, royal residence.” Currently the folly castle built in the early 19th century by the king family stands on the island. Trinity Church and the Islands each has the ruins of medieval priories stands on them. [Archaeology digs from c.2005-2012 found that “folly” seems in fact to be a relic of the past several historic structures. ]

Cairrig Loch -C

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17-20th centuries

The King family acquired the land around Lough Key in the 17th century Cromwellian Settlement, [4] to rename the area of Moylurg Rockingham. In 1809, Rockingham House – a mansion designed by the English architect John Nash [5] – was built. The house remained the seat of Stafford-King-Harman family until it was badly damaged by fire in 1957. [6] The latter was demolished in 1970.

Lough Key Forest Park

Immediately south of the lough is Lough Key Forest Park, a popular destination for recreational walkers. The park opened in 1972, [7] covers 865 acres (350 ha) formerly part of the Rockingham estate. The Moylurg Tower, stands on the site of the old Rockingham house, now stands overlooking the lake in the north and lawns in the south. There are many amenities in the park including boat trips, boats for rent, water sports, camping and caravan park, an outdoor playground and shop. A development in 2007 [8] added a number of new attractions including a canopy walkway and children’s play areas, to meet the “visitor 21st century.” [9]

Sir Cecil Stafford-King-Harman (1895-1987), second (and last) Baronet of Rockingham [ citation needed ] , make sure that the country went back to the people of Ireland through the Irish Land Commission, which is shared by pastures in several farms about 50 acre (20 ha) and granted them to the locals. An extensive area around the then derelict Rockingham house became Forest Park and this was taken care of by the Department of Forestry. It is currently in the care of Coillte, a semi-governmental body. The park contains the remains of the five ring fast, giving evidence of the long dwelling in this region.

The area around the lake is significant in medieval Irish literature and legend.Starting around 1000 AD, the Annals of Boyle were compiled on Trinity Island, and from 1253 to 1590 in the Annals of Lough Key continued from where Boyle annals slut.Lough Key was also the site of the legend of Una Bháin. Famous harpist Turlough O’Carolan buried at Kilronan, three miles (5 km) to the north of the lake.

annalistic references

From the Annals of the Four Masters:

  • M955.11 – The fleet of Fearghal, son of Art, at Loch-Ce.

See also

  • List of Loughs in Ireland


  1. Jump up ^ “Gods and fight for Men: Part III In the book: the great battle of Magh Tuireadh”. Sacred-texts.com. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  2. Jump up ^ Lady Gregory Gods and fight for Men [1]
  3. Jump up ^ NS Share [2] Depth Information for Lakes
  4. Jump up ^ “Lough Key Forest Park | Recreation sites | Coillte Outdoors “.Coillteoutdoors.ie. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  5. Jump up ^ “History | Park and Estate | Lough Key Forest and Activity Park “. Loughkey.ie. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  6. Jump up ^ “Lough Key”. Woodlandleague.org. 09.12.2004. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  7. Jump up ^ “Speech by Minister O’Donoghue at the” turning of the sod “ceremony at Lough Key Forest Park, Co. Roscommon “. Arts-sport-tourism.gov.ie. 23.02.2006. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  8. Jump up ^ “Minister Coughlan opens Lough Key Forest and Activity Park”. Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – Agriculture.gov.ie.05.15.2007. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  9. Jump up ^ “Home | Lough Key Forest and Activity Park “. Loughkey.ie.Retrieved 2011-04-09.