High 10 locations to see Irish wildlife – from whales in West Cork to puffins in Wexford

Eire has main ecological challenges however there are nonetheless locations to go to which promise an in depth encounter with giants or just the chance for time and area in nature.

ome locations are finest visited in spring or summer time, but it surely’s by no means too early to dream – or plan your keep. Wherever you go, keep in mind to ‘go away no hint’, spend your cash within the native space and shut fences and gates behind you.


Bailey Lighthouse, Howth Head, Dublin.

1. Howth Head cliff stroll, Dublin

Dublin may be heaven and there are few extra heavenly hikes within the metropolis than the one round Howth Head. Simply accessible by Dart or bus companies, the varied signposted looped walks all go by way of Howth harbour, with loads of choices for consuming and ingesting. My favorite is the Bathroom of Frogs path with the number of woodland, heath and gorgeous coastal cliffs. The true spotlight is the marine wildlife, finest loved on calm days whenever you’re prone to see seals, the ocean pig (muc mara, or harbour porpoise) and possibly even a bottle-nosed dolphin. Binoculars are advisable. There are seabirds always, however, in summer time, the cliffs are alive with breeding colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots, herring gulls, fulmars and extra.

Particulars: visithowth.ie/the-bog-of-frogs-trail/

2. The Burren, Co Clare


Kayak down the nice River Barrow in Co Carlow

The Burren stays Eire’s best-preserved panorama and the clearest demonstration that farming, nature and heritage can thrive in concord with each other. The distinctive limestone panorama (often called karst) helps to make the place distinctive, but it surely’s the absence of recent farming, and the chemical compounds that go together with it, that has retained its flower- and insect-rich fields. It might be the one place in Eire the place there are medium to lengthy distance, off-road, strolling trails taking you thru a genuinely nature-rich panorama. It isn’t solely the farmers’ fields although, it is the distinctive and haunting hazel woods and the remnants of what’s believed to be the one really native stand of Scots pine in Eire. A botanist’s paradise.

Particulars: burren.ie/what-to-do/walking-routes/

three. Kayak the River Barrow in Carlow/Kilkenny

If you wish to expertise considered one of Eire’s nice rivers, you actually should be on the water itself. Kayaking in an open paddle boat down the River Barrow in counties Carlow and Kilkenny is an unforgettable expertise. Removed from the roar of highway visitors, the one sounds you may hear are the splash of the water and the birdlife alongside the wooded banks. The folks at Go With the Movement will hire you a Canadian-style kayak which you’ll then go away for them to gather in St Mullins (the place Mullichain Cafe will ebook you a taxi again to your automotive whilst you take pleasure in scrumptious selfmade baking).

Particulars: Costs begin from €45 for a half-day to €240 for three-day kayaking and wild tenting journey. See gowiththeflow.ie

four. Whale watching, Co Cork

The southwest of Eire presents a few of the finest whale-watching available within the North Atlantic, with common sightings of fin whales (the second largest animal on earth), humpbacks and minkes. Sightings are by no means assured however heading out with an skilled boat operator will maximise your possibilities. And it isn’t solely the whales, frequent dolphins journey the bow waves, petrels and shearwaters skim the water for meals, and the very fortunate will encounter a basking shark or a large solar fish. At any time of yr, it is an awesome alternative to see ocean wildlife however for the most effective probability of an encounter with the massive whales, go between April and October.

Particulars: Commonplace grownup price for a ship journey is €50; https://corkwhalewatch.com and test the newest validated sightings at iwdg.ie.

5. Saltee Islands, Co Wexford

The seabird metropolis at the Saltee Islands is considered one of nature’s nice spectacles. After spending the winter far out to sea, every spring over 20,000 birds throng the cliffs of the Nice Saltee off the coast of Co Wexford to nest and rear their chicks. Go to from late April to July on your finest probability to see the island’s well-known puffins or see (and odor!) the mayhem of two,500 pairs of gannets squabbling for area on the rocky slopes. Be careful additionally for peregrine falcons, the quickest hen on the planet, because it hunts the birds returning to their nests. It is an awesome place to enhance your pictures expertise however do keep in mind to maintain your distance from the birds always and by no means to disturb their nests.

Particulars: Commonplace grownup charge for the 5km boat journey is €30 from salteeferry.com

6. Lough Boora, Co Offaly

It is practically 30 years for the reason that Bord na Móna employees at Lough Boora, Co Offaly, turned off the pumps and let nature do its factor. At this time, rewilding of the wetlands and boglands has seen nature rebound to a unprecedented degree. In winter, the ponds are house to the honking of whooper swans whereas spring brings the unmistakable name of the cuckoo. Guests will now discover a cafe and a community of strolling and biking trails that can hopefully type a blueprint for the worked-out bogs throughout the midlands.

Particulars: loughboora.com

7. Sheskinmore, Co Donegal

Donegal is rightly well-known for its gorgeous seashores with their golden sand stretching for miles. If it is solitude and a way of area you are after, there’s nowhere higher. However even by Donegal’s requirements, the Sheskinmore Nature Reserve, between Ardara and Portnoo, has an particularly wild really feel to it. It’s an exceptionally giant and diversified system of sand dunes and a kind of wind-blasted grassland often called machair, identified solely in Eire and Scotland. Be careful for orchids within the spring and summer time, chough (pronounced ‘chuff’ – a scarlet-billed crow), and the uncommon marsh fritillary butterfly – Eire’s solely legally protected species of insect.

Particulars: glenveaghnationalpark.ie


The seals of Glengarriff, Co Cork, hauled out on the rocks. Image by Chris Hill

eight. Glengarriff wooden and Garnish Island, Co Cork

Regardless of as soon as being 80laptop woodland, there are few locations in Eire immediately the place the customer can expertise an historical oak forest because it may need beforehand regarded. Glengarriff in Co Cork, although, might be as close to as we will get. An historical rainforest, with its dripping cover of emerald mosses and ferns, can also be one of many few locations in Eire that’s even higher within the rain. Not removed from the character reserve in Glengarriff, take the quick boat journey to Garnish Island with its just lately refurbished home and gardens. On the way in which, you may see frequent seals hauled up on rocks however there’s additionally an excellent probability you may see considered one of Eire’s resident white-tailed eagles, which efficiently reared a chick within the space this yr.

Particulars: garnishisland.com.

9. Inishbofin, Co Galway

Eire’s island heritage is exclusive and – thank goodness – nonetheless alive and kicking. Every island has its personal character and id, however on Inishbofin, off the coast of Co Galway, the customer is handled to a few of the most spectacular surroundings anyplace. Though the open boggy space on the west of the island is extremely overgrazed by sheep, the fields on the east finish stay one of many final locations in Eire the place the raspy name of the corncrake can nonetheless be heard. The turquoise waters of its rocky coves are a snorkeller’s dream, and, though it is hilly in elements, the quiet roads and trails are good for strolling and biking. It is doable to go to on a day journey from Cleggan however attempt to keep longer and the tempo of island life, and its intimate contact with nature, will seep into your bones.

Daetails: inishbofin.com

10. Crom Property, Co Fermanagh

The Nationwide Belief property at Crom in Co Fermanagh could be Eire’s best-kept secret. It is a watery world of creeks and lakes the place the River Erne snakes its method by way of woodlands and reedy marshes. There is a quiet campsite among the many big oaks the place, in summer time, the night time air is full of bats. Guests can rent kayaks to discover the backwaters and picnic on piers with solely dragonflies for firm.

Particulars: nationaltrust.org.uk/crom

Pádraic Fogarty is an ecologist and creator of Whittled Away: Eire’s Vanishing Nature

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