Gosford Forest Park
|Gosford Forest Park|
|Type||Public Forest Park|
|Location||County Armagh, Northern Ireland|
|Coordinates||54°18′09″N 6°31′20″W / 54.3025°N 6.5221°WCoordinates: 54°18′09″N 6°31′20″W / 54.3025°N 6.5221°W|
|Area||c. 240 Hectares|
|Operated by||Forest Service NI (DARD)|
Gosford Forest Park is located outside the Co. Armagh village of Markethill. Gosford Forest Park, previously Gosford Demesne, was acquired by the Department of Agriculture in 1958 and comprises some 240 hectares of diverse woodland and open parkland. Gosford Forest Park is also home to Gosford Castle.It was designated the first conservation forest in Northern Ireland in 1986.
. Facilities available include:
• Camping and Caravanning Site (with mains electricity)
• Picnic and Barbecue areas
• Tea House and Shop
• Way-marked Trails
• Horse-riding routes
• Orienteering routes
• Disabled facilities
• Bookable Guided Tours
• Special events (arranged by permit)
• Function Hall
In the early 17th century the Acheson family came to the Markethill area, and built a very substantial farmhouse near the present town of Markethill. The family came from Monmouthshire and, in fact, the present Earl of Weymes is related to the Achesons who later became the Earls of Gosford. When they came here first they brought with them 13 families, and some of the family names still survive in the area, notably Galbraith, Greer, etc. One of the two forts (or raths) in Gosford Forest was named after the Greer family who farmed the land in that area.
The first dwelling place of the Achesons was burned down; this house was near the town of Markethill which the family were responsible for founding. In 1610 the family were granted the lands of the present estate. They proceeded to build another house using locally procured, hand-made, red brick. This house was named Clonkearney Manor after the townland in which it was built. The path to this site is up near the ponds, but unfortunately only a portion of the red brick foundations is now visible. This house was reputed to have been burned down during the Williamite wars in the mid-17th century.
The estate is now owned by the forestry Service and boasts excellent facilities and a cafe. It also houses one of Northern Ireland's premier collections of rare breeds. Gosford Castle has just been renovated into 23 new homes which are currently being sold.
In 1989, Gosford Forest Park hosted the Irish Scout Jamboree, Gosford 89 which was attended by over 3000 scouts from around the world and hosted beside Gosford Castle. A reunion for those involved in Gosford 89 was held at Armagh City Hotel on Friday 28 August 2009, attended by over 50 people. It was organised by Jack Campbell and Aubrene Willis. Wilson Lambe (Camp Chief) spoke at it.