As a youngster back in the 80s, my parents had decided to travel from Belgium to Moore Hall to spent a summer around the shores of Lough Carra.
They rented a cottage right beside the lake which came with its own boat, and after a very long drive across the UK and Ireland, we arrived in paradise. A small lakeside retreat right beside Moore Hall which in those days wasn't open to the public. Roll forward 40 years and we found ourselves driving into the car park of Moore Hall Estate on a sunny Saturday in July.
The cottage we rented at the time is still there, unchanged from what it was 40 years ago. The only difference is that Moore Hall Estate is now open to the public and is managed by Coiltte.
Moore Hall Estate has gained popularity with the public recently after extensive restoration work was carried out around the estate.
The work seen the introduction of new paths, a playground, wooden sculptures and the restoration of the walled garden.
After having parked up the car in the large car park, we walked through the beautiful playground and picnic area. A few families were enjoying their picnic while the kids were having a great time in the playground which is entirely made out of wood. From small wooden insects to a pirate ship to wooden climbing structures, it is a quiet area where old and young can relax.
Moore Hall Estate has a network of forest roads which provide a pleasant walk with as main focal point the ruins of Moore Hall House.
We took the main avenue towards Moore Hall House which was built by George Moore in 1795. George amassed a huge fortune in Alicante as a wine merchant and owned a huge fleet of merchant ships.
Where George originally came from County Mayo, he went into exile to Spain because of the restrictive Irish Penal laws at the time. When George wanted to retire, he decided to sell his property in Spain and bought some land nearby Lough Carra where he would built Moore Hall.
Walking towards the house, we enjoyed the many wooden statues which are placed around the Estate. These sculptures are skillfully crafted by Tommy Kerrigan of tommy K Chainsaw carvings.
But that is not all, the estate itself has some fabulous trees. The mixed plantation of conifer and broadleaf species provide a lush landscape where kids can run around to heart's content.
When you reach Moore Hall, you can see that this imposing building was once the pride and joy of its owners. Unfortunately, the house was torched on the 1st of February 1923 by an armed anti-treaty group during the civil war . The only part standing are the thick walls and the servant tunnel at the back of the house which once was used to deliver goods and food to the kitchen and servant quarters.
Our favourite part of the Estate is the beautiful restored walled garden which turns during the summer months into a beautiful wild flower meadow. Within the walls is also an old dovecot which once housed many doves.
Walking through the blue wooden door into the garden, we were welcomed by the buzzing noise of the 1000s of insects gathering pollen and nectar. Within the flower meadow are small mowed paths which allow you to walk around the garden and admire nature at its best.
Walking around the estate, we reached the old coach house which is now boarded up But there is a reason for it. It now houses one of Europe's most northerly population of lesser horseshoe bats. These bats are named after their distinctive , horseshoe-shaped leaf nose. These bats sleep during the day, but at dusk they leave their roosts to feed on the many insects.
Moore Hall is maybe not the best known location in Ireland, but we can highly recommend the Estate if you are looking for a quiet morning stroll, a lunchtime picnic or an education nature walk.
Or even better, arrive at dusk and you might be lucky spotting some of the horseshoe bats enjoying a feeding frenzy around Moore Hall Estate.