The highest 10 locations to see Irish wildlife

Eire has main ecological challenges however there are nonetheless locations to go to which promise a detailed encounter with giants or just the chance for time and house in nature. Some locations are greatest visited in spring or summer season, but it surely’s by no means too early to dream – or plan your keep. Wherever you go, bear in mind to ‘depart no hint’, spend your cash within the native space and shut fences and gates behind you.

1 Howth Head cliff stroll, Dublin

Dublin might be heaven and there are few extra heavenly hikes within the metropolis than the one round Howth Head. Simply accessible by Dart or bus providers, the assorted 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 actual spotlight is the marine wildlife, greatest 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 really helpful. There are seabirds always, however, in summer season, the cliffs are alive with breeding colonies of kittiwakes, guillemots, herring gulls, fulmars and extra.

The Bog of Frogs Trail

2 The Burren, Co Clare

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 contemporary 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 is not solely the farmers’ fields although, it is the distinctive and haunting hazel woods and the remnants of what’s believed to be the one actually native stand of Scots pine in Eire. A botanist’s paradise.

three Kayak the River Barrow in Carlow/Kilkenny

If you wish to expertise certainly one of Eire’s nice rivers, you actually need to 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 street visitors, the one sounds you may hear are the splash of the water and the birdlife alongside the wooded banks. The people at Go With the Circulate will hire you a Canadian-style kayak which you’ll then depart for them to gather in St Mullins (the place Mullichain Cafe will e-book you a taxi again to your automotive whilst you get pleasure from scrumptious home made baking).

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

four Whale watching, Co Cork

The southwest of Eire presents a few of the greatest 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 probabilities. And it isn’t solely the whales, widespread dolphins trip the bow waves, petrels and shearwaters skim the water for meals, and the very fortunate will encounter a basking shark or an enormous solar fish. At any time of yr, it is an excellent alternative to see ocean wildlife however for one of the best likelihood of an encounter with the massive whales, go between April and October.

Customary grownup fee for a ship journey is €50; and examine the newest validated sightings at

5 Saltee Islands, Co Wexford

The seabird metropolis on the Saltee Islands is certainly 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 in your greatest likelihood to see the island’s well-known puffins or see (and scent!) the mayhem of two,500 pairs of gannets squabbling for house on the rocky slopes. Be careful additionally for peregrine falcons, the quickest chicken on the earth, because it hunts the birds returning to their nests. It is an excellent place to enhance your images expertise however do bear in mind to maintain your distance from the birds always and by no means to disturb their nests.

Customary grownup charge for the 5km boat journey is €30 from

6 Lough Boora, Co Offaly

It is almost 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. In the present day, rewilding of the wetlands and boglands has seen nature rebound to a rare degree. In winter, the ponds are dwelling 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 may hopefully type a blueprint for the worked-out bogs throughout the midlands.


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 house 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 diverse 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 season, chough (pronounced ‘chuff’ – a scarlet-billed crow), and the uncommon marsh fritillary butterfly – Eire’s solely legally protected species of insect.


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 as we speak 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, may additionally 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 lately refurbished home and gardens. On the way in which, you may see widespread seals hauled up on rocks however there’s additionally likelihood you may see certainly one of Eire’s resident white-tailed eagles, which efficiently reared a chick within the space this yr.


9 Inishbofin, Co Galway

Eire’s island heritage is exclusive and – thank goodness – nonetheless alive and kicking. Every island has its personal character and identification, 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.


10 Crom Property, Co Fermanagh

The Nationwide Belief property at Crom in Co Fermanagh might be Eire’s best-kept secret. It is a watery world of creeks and lakes the place the River Erne snakes its manner by woodlands and reedy marshes. There is a quiet campsite among the many large oaks the place, in summer season, 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.


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

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