The Dartrey forest, spanning from Cootehill, Cavan to Rockcorry, Monaghan, is a mix between native and imported species of trees, deciduous and evergreen. Today Dartrey Forest is managed by Coillte as a commercial forest, and also has areas hosting 200 year old oak and beech trees and a great biodiversity. It is home to the native Irish red squirrel and to Sika deer. These can be sighted walking or biking the numerous way-marked trails of various lengths threading through the forest.
The landscape of the forest and surrounding area is particularly beautiful, being composed of a series of lakes joined by the Dromore River meandering through the forest. The river supports a wide range of waterfowl, such as herons, water hens, swans and ducks. The Forest is partially bordered by what is known locally as ‘the Famine Wall’, which stretches halfway along the road from Cootehill to Rockcorry.
Dartrey Forest was formerly part of the Dartrey Estate of the Dawson family who had the title of ‘Earl of Dartrey’ from 1866 to 1933. Also named “Dawson Grove”, it was located in the Barony of Dartrey. The once vast estate was centred on Dartrey Castle which was demolished in 1946. The lakes surrounding Dartrey have a number of crannógs which provided traditional fortification, possibly until the late 16th century, and perhaps helped facilitate trade with settlements upstream.