Foley's Bridge over the Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park in County Down.
© Adrian McGlynn/Alam
A fantastical forest park
This autumnal scene can be found in Tollymore Forest Park in County Down, the first state forest park in Northern Ireland. Rising out of the rocks, Foley’s Bridge is one of 16 bridges that span the Shimna River as it flows through this romantic landscape at the foot of the Mourne Mountains. Humpback bridges like this one were a popular feature in landscape parks of the late 18th century, with round arches designed to be particularly picturesque.
For much of the 1700s, this estate was in the hands of James Hamilton, the Earl of Clanbrassil, and later his son. Hamilton’s friendship with landscape designer and architect Thomas Wright helped shape the park, adding the striking Barbican Gate with its Gothic archway at the entrance and the church-like Clanbrassil Barn in 1757. The park’s exotic trees range from tall giant redwoods and Himalayan cedars to monkey puzzle and eucalyptus trees. Oak from this forest was used to line the interiors of the luxury cabins on board the doomed Titanic.
Tollymore’s landscape of tree-shaded rivers, mountains, caves and glens is rumoured to have inspired the Belfast-born author CS Lewis to create the magical world of Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. More recently, its fantastical quality earned it a starring role as one of the filming locations for TV’s Game of Thrones.