Trails

Making the most out of Monaghan

Making the most out of Monaghan

by Conor Finnegan

Monaghan eh?? Monaghan. Of all places Monaghan! Not exactly named and famed for crashing coastlines, monstrous mountains, Historical Castles or anything other than a good oul bog snorkel. But after all, it is my home.

Every County on this beautiful Island has its own personal charm. Monaghan’s is….. well it’s a little bit harder to find. But that doesn’t mean to say its not there. So I’ve two options, yap and cry about it and head off on a two hour journey to Donegal every other month. Or do my best to make the most of it. Not going to lie I’ll probably just to do both!

So where can you expect to shoot while visiting the Farney County?

Rossmore Forest Park

For me, there is something truly magical about walking through a forest park in the open air. The colours, the sounds, the wildlife. You get a sense of tranquillity with natures open air, and you leave all of lifes problems behind you.

Being from Monaghan Town, one of my favourite locations is Rossmore Forest Park. They say it was the 2nd most visited forest park in Ireland during covid lockdowns. I’ve no idea how they can ever track these amount of numbers due to the numerous entrances, but either way, I prefer the park when its quiet in the early mornings.
When you venture past the sleeping Drumlin Giants, and a huge Red Wolf, that looks like a pig, Rossmore has many charms. It offers lakes, wildlife, waterfalls, Castle Gardens and a Mausoleum out the back. Autumn is the preferred season when its numerous types of vegetation changes colour to golds, oranges, yellows, reds, while some trees strongly keep there greens. You may need to channel your inner Simon Baxter and go off track to find some unique compositions, but they are there.

My favourite shot from Rossmore was when I was out shooting in some fog, getting used to my new Fuji XT4. The fog had all but lifted as the suns rays shinned down on the forest floor. As I was walking with my beagle, an opportunity arose straight in front of me as the light hit an open path. I quickly shooed some walkers out of my composition and had no choice but to quickly take a hand held shot. This resulted in one of my favourite shots as a photographer. (see above)

A pop-up coffee stand is available in the car park, and the Golf Club is minutes away for some great grub. If you catch it on the right day, Blasta Street Kitchen often pops into the car park to offer some brilliant Mexican food.

Glaslough Village

Glaslough Village has to be up there with the prettiest villages in Ireland. It is a small, quiet village with a great community and a lot of historical meaning, with the well known Castle Leslie estate entertaining huge names such as Sir Paul McCartney for their weddings.

Even though the castle grounds are amazing and offer plenty of opportunities for any landscape or wildlife photographer, including a unique chapel, the Castle itself, a boat house overlooking the lake, and some red fallow deer. It was something smaller outside of the castle walls that drew my attention. The Old Glaslough Train Station.
As part of the Ulster Railway, the station itself was closed down in 1957, but in most recent years the signal box has been reconstructed on the site, and offeres a real unique photo opportunity.
If your about the area, make sure to book into Ambledown Pizzeria for a unique experience, you’ll not be disappointed.
Fun fact, the first ever manager of Liverpool Football Club, John McKenna originally came from the village, and I may or may not be related to him (Don’t tell him I support United).

Lough Mór

Lough Mór is a new one to me. It’s a lake I’ve never heard of or seen a photograph. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I like scrolling through Google Earth to see if I can find new unique interesting things to photograph. And the Bragan “Mountains” (they’re really more hobbit hills) is full of them, no least the amazing Lough Mor.

Located on the Monaghan / Tyrone border, some 15km north-west of Monaghan Town, outside the village of Emyvale, comes this amazing lake. Mainly known to local fisherman for its good stock of wild brown trout, but for photographers it offers an amazing photo opportunity.

You may get lost 3 thousand times on the way to the lake, stopping time and time again to wait on the fallow deer to cross the road, but once you park up, you’re within 50 steps of setting up your tripod.

A small boat dock, in which theres usually 4 fishing boats tied onto, opens up a simple but affective composition. With each boat staring directly into the dock it offers a great parallel shot, partner that with a ND filter and some nice light and you’ve got yourself a banger! It may be in the middle of nowhere but I’m certainly glad I made the trip, and being not to far, I’ll shot this shot again in different conditions to see what mór (get it) the location can offer.

Castleshane Waterfall

I drive by Castleshane Forest on average 10 times a week, and yet I have only ever visited the woodland once, I know, I know, shame on me. But when I ventured out I’m glad I did. A small forest, which at this point half of it has now been cut down, it offers some unique photo opportunities.
Castleshane Forest and Waterfall can be found around 5km outside of Monaghan town, off the N2, on the outskirts of Castleshane village. ‘Caisleán an tSiáin’ is the village’s name in Irish which translates to ‘Castle of the Fairy Mound’ – you will notice a height in the middle of the demesne that could be the mound the name refers to.

The deforestation actually creates some nice shots, with some loan trees now sticking out from the earth. When you wander in from the N2 side you tend to walk towards the old ruin of Castleshane Castle. No where near as grand as it yous to be, but the remains of the front of the house still stand tall for a nice wee peak, probably better seen in the winter time when theres less vegetation wrapping around the ruins.

When you find the meandering river, keep it on your right hand side. You may need to roll and tumble a few times as you walk on what feels like a Cliffs of Moher ledge to those afraid of heights like myself, but after a while of holding on for your life (it’s really not that bad), you’ll finally hear the sound of a crashing waterfall, the adrenaline starts to quickly hit.

This beautiful and unique waterfall offers a great location for shooting, especially as its not shot to death like some certain Irish waterfalls, I’m looking at yous Torc, Glenmalure and the “not so secret” waterfall in Donegal ( Though lets face it, they’re awesome for a reason ). Luckily for me, some other tog may have placed this wooden branch perfectly for me to line up my frame, and before you say “yeah, aye, sure, course you didn’t place that” I tried moving it and ended up ruining the composition haha.  Maybe I just got lucky and a branch just happened to be in the right place at the right time, either way, I got my snap.

Hollywood lake

Situated between the villages of Scotstown and Ballinode, Hollywood Lake offers free and fun activities such as swimming, nature walks, a children’s playground and seating areas to enjoy a good oul picnic. Jam packed like sardines in the summer, but in the quieter times it’s a really nice tranquil place to relax and take in the view.

If you follow the nature trail round the right hand side of the lake, through a small wooded area, you’ll find a small fishing dock which opens up from the trees. My photo mightened be the best representation of this location, due to the billion reeds making the composition look messy, but none the less, it’s a decent photo. Plus, afterwards you can sit with your feet in the water and watch the sun set behind the hills in the distance. A simple location, but affective.

Other Locations

Lone Tree

Monaghan Cathedral

Lough Muckno

Laragh Church

There are alot more locations in Co. Monaghan I am yet to shoot, such as Castle Leslie, Senator Billy Fox Park, Balyybay Wetlands, Dartrey Stately Home, Emy Lough & Lough Major. But I’ll get to them at some point and add to my collection, and maybe after all, Monaghan ain’t so bad!

© All images are copyrighted to Photographer Conor Finnegan
Scroll to Top

Get in Touch

Leave us a Message

If you would like to contribute to the site or see an issue within the site, then please contact us through the form below