Castlewellan Forest Park
The park covers some 460 hectares, including woodland and a 40 hectare lake. It was opened to the public in 1967 after the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture purchased the land from the Annesley family. Features of the park include the National Arboretum, the Peace Maze and Castlewellan Castle.
The Peace Maze located in the park was constructed between 2000 and 2001. It contains 6000 yew trees planted by volunteers from Northern Ireland. It was the longest permanent hedge maze in the world until July 2007, when the Pineapple Garden Maze in Wahiawa, Hawaii was extended.
Castlewellan Castle is a Scottish baronial castle built by the Annesley family between 1856 and 1858. It stands close to the entrance of the arboretum overlooking Castlewellan Lake and was built on the site of an old church. The castle was built by The 4th Earl Annesley, who commissioned the Scottish architect William Burn to design it. It was built of locally quarried granite by the Parker partnership of Liverpool.
On the death of the unmarried 4th Earl in 1874, the original estate, much larger than the present park, passed to his brother Hugh, 5th Earl Annesley, who considerably enhanced the arboretum. His son, Francis, 6th Earl Annesley, inherited in 1908 but was killed in the First World War in 1914, after which the earldom passed to his cousin Walter and the Castlewellan Estate to his sister, Lady Mabel. She left it to her son Gerald Francis Annesley (born Gerald Sowerby), who sold it to the government.
Since 1974, after standing empty for ten years, the castle has been used as a Christian conference centre.