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BALLYCROY National Park

“Indeed the Nephinbeg range of mountains is I think the very loneliest place in this country, for the hills themselves are encircled by this vast area of trackless bog, I confess I find such a place not lonely or depressing but inspiriting. You are thrown at the same time back upon yourself and forward against the mystery and majesty of nature.” Robert Lloyd Praeger (1937) The Way That I Went

W

hile for many people, the term National Park usually evokes images of Killarney or the Wicklow Mountains, the isolated and undeveloped terrain of Ballycroy National Park could not be more different. Located on the western seaboard in northwest Mayo, Ballycroy National Park is a unique and distinct landscape comprised of 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness. Dominated by the Nephin Beg Mountain Range, the Park includes Owenduff bog, one of the last intact active blanket bog systems not only in Ireland but Western Europe.

The impressive Visitor Centre houses an interactive exhibition on the special landscape, habitats and species of the national park. There is a short nature trail (Tóchar Daithí Bán) with a viewing point which offers stunning panoramic views of Achill Island to the West and the Nephin Beg Mountain Range to the East.

Through its Education Centre, the Park aims to raise awareness of the natural world and of conservation. Programmes are free of charge to schools, and to the general public. Many are site specific, such as the bogs/peatlands workshop with special emphasis on the plants and animals found within the habitat. The Park provides bog ecology and geography fieldwork to secondary schools and runs special programmes that can be tailored to suit necessary requirements. This could involve talks, walks and indoor and outdoor activities. Access to the National Park itself can be gained by walking along the Bangor Trail. 8 www.heritageireland.ie

THE BANGOR TRAIL

The Bangor Trail is a centuries old right of way traversing one of the most isolated and undeveloped landscapes in Ireland. This completely off-road mountain trail extends for 25km through the heart of the Nephin Beg mountain range and Owenduff bog. This vast area (30km2) is itself part of the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). These European designations protect rare and important habitats and species under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives. Much of the trail lies within Ballycroy National Park. The route has been in existence for hundreds of years. It appears on the earliest surviving map of Mayo which was drawn in 1590 by John Browne of the Neale (McDermott, 1992). This was the droving route used in northwest Mayo to bring livestock to market.

Heritage Ireland Ezine Issue 3  

Welcome to the Spring 2016 issue of Heritage Ireland, a collaboration between the Office of Public Works and the Department of Arts, Heritag...

Heritage Ireland Ezine Issue 3  

Welcome to the Spring 2016 issue of Heritage Ireland, a collaboration between the Office of Public Works and the Department of Arts, Heritag...