Open air walks in Donadea Forest

For the next couple of weeks, we are going to focus on some of the fantastic forest and open air walks in County Kildare.

For the next couple of weeks, we are going to focus on some of the fantastic forest and open air walks in County Kildare.

Donadea Forest Park has long been a family favourite for people in North Kildare.

It is located less than 30 miles from Dublin, and is approximately 640 acres in size. It has been a forest park since 1981, and the local community, and those from further afield in Kildare and Dublin have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, the diversity of habitats, the walled stream, the lake, the castle, and the church, to mention a few. The Park is a designated National Heritage Area.

About 12 years ago, an Environmental Management Plan was drawn up for the park, with the involvement of Coillte, to marry the operations of that organisation with the recreational needs of the local community.

The local community formed the Friends of Donadea Park, which became involved in safeguarding local communities’ recreational interests at the area.

The Aylmer Walk, The Nature Trail, and the Lake Walk are three of the walks available in the park. The Aylmer Walk is the longest of the three walks at 5km, and incorporates Lime Tree Avenue. The Nature Trail, as the name suggests, focuses on the flora and fauna and history of Donadea Park. The Lake Walk is a special walk that has been designed so that it is fully accessible for people with special needs.

The official launch of the new walks took place on September 3rd 2000.

The Forest Park is also the home of the Donadea 9/11 Memorial.

On September 11th 2001, along with 343 members of the New York emergency services, a young Irish American, Sean Tallon, lost his life in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre. Sean was a fire fighter with the New York Fire Department. Sean’s father was born in Donadea, and the Tallon family had always kept close connections with their relatives and friends who still live in the community. In the year prior to his death, Sean had travelled to Donadea where he visited the park.

Following the death of Sean Tallon and the tragic events of September 11th, George Hipwell, Forest Manager, was approached by locals to consider what could be done at Donadea Forest Park to convey the sympathy of the community and to commemorate Sean Tallon.

The resulting memorial is a scaled replica of the Twin Towers, carved in blocks of limestone. It was designed by Brian Swan, Senior Architect with Kildare County Council and crafted under the supervision of Bernard Groome, a local stonemason and sculptor. The memorial is erected on a specially prepared plinth, with carved crests inlaid in stone flags. The twin blocks carry the names engraved of all the men and women of the New York Fire Department, Police Officers and Port Authority officials who died in the Twin Towers.

- The ‘Kildare’s Hidden Gems’ column, in association with Kildare Failte’s Into Kildare campaign, appears each week in the Leinster Leader... plus check out each issue for a discount voucher for a Kildare attraction