If you are looking for a peaceful and scenic place to enjoy nature in Galway, you might want to visit Derryclare Nature Reserve. This 19-hectare site is located on the shore of Derryclare Lough in the Inagh Valley, one of the most beautiful areas of Connemara. The reserve is home to an old oak woodland, a rich variety of plants and animals, and a population of red squirrels that were reintroduced in 2005.

The reserve was established in 1980 by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to protect the oak woodland, which is one of the few remaining examples of this habitat type in Ireland. The woodland is dominated by sessile oak, but also contains birch, holly, hazel and rowan. The ground flora includes bluebells, wood sorrel, wood anemone, primrose and ferns. The woodland provides shelter and food for many birds, such as robins, wrens, tits, treecreepers and woodpeckers. You might also spot some mammals, such as badgers, foxes, stoats and pine martens.

One of the most special features of the reserve is the presence of red squirrels, which are native to Ireland but have declined dramatically due to habitat loss and competition from the invasive grey squirrel. In 2005, NPWS carried out a translocation project to reintroduce 19 red squirrels from Wexford to Derryclare. The project was successful and the squirrels have been breeding and spreading in the area ever since. You can see them scampering along the branches or feeding on nuts and seeds. They are shy and elusive, so you will need some patience and luck to catch a glimpse of them.

The reserve has a leisurely trail that takes you around the woodland and along the shore of Derryclare Lough. The lough is a stunning sight, with its clear water reflecting the surrounding mountains and hills. You can enjoy the views of the Twelve Bens, Maumturk Mountains and Bunnacunneen from different angles. The lough is also a popular fishing spot, as it contains brown trout, pike and perch. You will need a permit to fish here however.

Derryclare Nature Reserve is open to the public all year round and there is no entrance fee. You can access it via the R344 road, which joins the N59 at Recess to the N59 near Kylemore Abbey. There is a small car park near the entrance gate. The trail is about 2 km long and suitable for all ages and abilities. There are no facilities on site, so make sure you bring your own water, snacks and rubbish bags. Please respect then ature and wildlife and follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Derryclare Nature Reserve is a hidden gem in Connemara that offers a tranquil and rewarding experience for nature lovers. It is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty and diversity of nature.


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Derryclare Nature Reserve



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