From north to south, Ireland has an abundance of beauty and wildlife. This article highlights Ten excellent places in Ireland of stunning scenery and amazing wildlife.
1. Aillwee Birds of Prey Centre – Clare
This attraction is situated in the heart of the beautiful Burren landscape and on the same site as the ancient Ailwee Caves. The first view you have of the centre is a large, striking painting of an owl’s face.
Inside, you can view birds of prey up close, including barn owls and beady-eyed vultures. You can see these birds in action during the interactive flying displays.
Also on offer is hawk walk, an hour-long trek through the unique Burren landscape accompanied by a guided falconer and a real live bird of prey.
2. Secret Valley Wildlife Park and Zoo – Wexford
Animals you can see at this family-run zoo include racoons, llamas and pythons, but one of the unique experiences available are the tailored experiences such as Junior Keeper, where you can clean and feed reptiles and work up close with the keepers in addition to Senior Keeper where you can act as a keeper by cleaning out animal cages and feeding foxes and meerkats! It achieved its zoo licence in 2014!
3. The Burren National Park – Clare
There is a sort of magic in the Burren that can only be experienced by visiting it. The barren, stony landscape seems otherworldly. Sights to visit are Fanore Beach, the famous Cliffs of Moher, Lisdoonvarna, (home of the matchmaker’s dances) and more.
The Burren is home to unique plant life due to its unusual landscape and you’ll come across ancient burial sites as you travel through the landscape. Whether you’re into hiking or a beautiful view, the Burren is the place for you. There are endless attractions within the 1,500-hectare park.
4. National Reptile Zoo – Kilkenny
Are you brave enough to come face to face with a sharp-toothed alligator? If the answer is yes, then this reptile zoo in the South East is for you. Prepare yourself for snapping turtles, hairy tarantulas and deadly scorpions!
The zoo itself has an assortment of attractions, from the Animal Encounter Zone where you hold some of the animals who live there, a chance to view Ireland’s largest snake: a 17ft python! The zoo is open all year round which is ideal as we know all too well how changeable Irish weather is.
5. Killarney National Park – Kerry
If you’re a fan of the outdoors, then the mountainous lands of Co Kerry are for you. You can run, walk or cycle through the National Park. One of the trails is the Gap of Dunloe where you take a boat trip from Ross Castle through the lower and middle lakes to Lord Brandon’s cottage.
If you’re lucky you might stumble upon a herd of Red Deer that frequent these parts. Co Kerry is home to some of the most spectacular views in the country, and there is plenty of open space.
6. Fota Wildlife Park – Cork
Located on Fota Island and less than 30 minutes from Cork city, this 100-acre wildlife park is home to a huge variety of animals, ranging from the Chilean Flamingo, the Red Panda to the beautiful Sumatran Tiger.
The park has a roped off the walkway in which you can walk through the entirety of the park. Some of the animals, including the mesmerising peacock walk among visitors, creating an immersive experience.
The park also has conservation programmes for the cheetah and the European bison, so by visiting you are supporting the protection of so many animal species.
7. Glenveagh National Park – Donegal
This is the second largest national park in the country and it’s found at the top of the Emerald Isle. The park is a combination of waterfalls, woodland made up of big oak trees and a rugged mountain landscape.
One of the main attraction is the attractive Glenveagh Castle, built in the 19th century. A variety of nature trails are available to walk, including the picturesque Lakeside walk which takes you along the shore of Lough Veagh, no doubt a peaceful yet magnificent view and more challenging mountain terrain for more experienced hikers.
8. Stonehall Visitor Farm and Wildlife Park – Limerick
This farm and wildlife park runs parallel to the lovely Curraghchase Forest Park. There is something for all here, including an indoor play area and tea rooms.
A conservation project is in place to protect the Lesser Horseshoe Bat which is an endangered species. So if you have got an interest in seeing a more unusual animal Stonehall is for you.
9. Doneraile wildlife park – Cork
An example of an 18th century landscaped park, this wildlife park is home to a number of gorgeous deer herds which can be viewed among the refurbished water features.
Admission to this park is completely free and visitors can explore Doneraile Court, the former home of the St Legers, a Norman family. What better way to take in the scenery than a picnic using the facilities available, surrounded by nature.
10. Kiltonga Nature Reserve – Down
This Northern Irish site’s main feature is the lake, which features many of wild birds such moorhens, swans and mallards. Visitors can get up close to these birds by using the observation area. A really peaceful area, this nature reserve is the perfect location to escape the bustling life of Belfast city.