Touring Ireland: Our Six National Parks

 

Ireland is extremely well-known for its nature. Our nickname “The Emerald Isle” was given to us due to our limitless, rolling green landscapes, teeming with flora, fauna and bodies of water. Six National Parks have been set up across the island to preserve slices of the land and ensure the safety of countless different habitats unique to Ireland. These parks are all different to each other, with every park offering something totally unique for visitors to explore and learn about. Our National Parks are perfect for a day trip, so read on and start planning a day out while you’re touring Ireland!

Ballycroy National Park

Ballycroy is located in Northwest Mayo and is one of the largest natural expanses of peatland in Europe. It is roughly 45 square miles in size, containing a diverse mix of flora and fauna. It was established as a national park in 1998. The park contains an information centre as well as tea rooms for anyone visiting the park. When touring Ireland, if you’re looking to find a landscape that is the epitome of the West Coast, Ballycroy is the destination for you. The park contains countless breathtaking views of the western landscape, providing lots of brilliant photo opportunities for anyone lucky enough to be touring Ireland. For more details on Ballycroy National Park,click here.

Connemara National Park

Located in west County Galway, Connemara National Park was established and opened in 1980. It contains roughly 30 square miles of mountains, grasslands, bogs, heaths and forestry. The park contains mountains (Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght) which are part of a local mountain range known as the Twelve Bens. 4000-year-old megalithic court-tombs also reside on the land. Fauna including the famous Connemara ponies and red deer roam the park. The grounds contain an information centre and tea rooms for visitors. Connemara is a picture-perfect destination for visitors, with the rich, rugged landscape providing a paradise for any adventurous spirits touring Ireland. For more details on Connemara National Park, click here

The Burren National Park

The Burren is a huge karst landscape situated in County Clare. It was created in the Ice Age, and the etymology behind its name is Irish for “Great Rock”. The Burren National Park is located in the south-eastern corner of the Burren and is approximately 1500 hectares (6 square miles) in size. The land was bought by the Government for nature conservation and public access. It contains examples of all the major habitats within the Burren, including limestone pavement, calcareous grassland and hazel scrub. The Burren contains many hidden gems, such as underground rivers and lakes, as well as caves and chambers, making it a fun, adventurous day out for people touring Ireland. It also contains some of the best examples of Europe’s Megalithic tombs. For more information on The Burren National Park, click here.

Glenveagh National Park

Glenveagh was established in 1984 and is Ireland’s second-largest national park. Located in County Donegal, it covers over 65 square miles of hillside within the heart of the Derryveagh mountains. Glenveagh is brilliant for anyone touring Ireland with an interest in wildlife, as the park is home to the largest herd of red deer in Ireland, and the formerly extinct golden eagle was reintroduced to the park in 2000. Other fauna such as hares, peregrine falcons, and foxes all thrive in Glenveagh. At the centre of the park resides Lough Veagh, the largest body of water in the park. A nature education centre, restaurant and tea rooms are all open to the public. For more information on Glenveagh National Park, click here.

Killarney National Park

 Killarney National Park, situated in County Kerry, is Ireland’s first established national park. Opened in 1932, the park covers over 39 square miles of woodland, lakes, waterfalls and mountains. The park contains Ireland’s only native herd of red deer, and is a prime area for many rare species of fauna to thrive. The park provides sanctuary to oak and yew woodlands of international importance, and was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1981. There are also many attractions on the grounds, including Muckross House, Knockreer Demesne and the Old Weir Bridge. There is an education centre for visitors located in Muckross House. Killarney Park is worth a visit when touring Ireland at any time of the year. For more information on Killarney National Park, click here

Wicklow Mountains

The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous uphill area in Ireland. They were established as a National Park in 1991, covering approx. 79 square miles of land. Powerscourt Waterfall is situated in the park and is Ireland’s largest waterfall at 397 feet tall. Glendalough Valley, the park’s biggest tourist attraction, sees more visitors than any other part of the park. Glendalough features a collection of Early Medieval monastic structures associated with St Kevin, a hermit priest. The grounds are also home to an education centre and a sensory garden. Anyone visiting the park is in for a treat, as recreational activities available within the park include walking and hiking, rock climbing, limited swimming and fishing. For more information on Wicklow Mountains National Park, click here.