Located on lands where Ireland’s ancient Celtic rainforest once stood, Wild Ireland is the island’s newest wildlife experience.
Wild Ireland is a wildlife conservation initiative launched in 2019. The park is set along the Wild Atlantic Way on fertile lands that were once home to ancient Celtic rainforest and majestic native fauna.
Wild Ireland calls home species that have been lost in Ireland due to hunting, deforestation, and other factors, while also providing a safe-haven for those who have been ill-treated.
Keen to learn more? Here is all you need to know about Wild Ireland – Ireland’s newest wildlife park.
Overview – everything you need to know
Wild Ireland sets the clock back to the days when wild animals roamed the landscape.
Situated on the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal, this wildlife reserve offers guests a unique experience that sees native animals roam as they once did many moons ago when a temperate Celtic Rainforest stood on its grounds.
The park opened to visitors on 25 October 2019 and has become a cornerstone of Irish wildlife conservation for its admirable values.
Wild Ireland offers sanctuary to animals that have been forced into extinction in Ireland. It also welcomes species that have been subject to cruelty at the hands of lab testing, circus groups, and the illegal pet trade.
What to see – best bits
At Wild Ireland, bears (which have been extinct in Ireland since the last ice age) and wolves (which were wiped out in the 18th-century due to hunting) can be seen to roam at leisure in their ancestral home.
Other top sights include barbary macaque monkeys, lynx cats, and wild boars – all of which were common to Ireland at varying stages throughout history. Not to mention the many otters, ducks, swans, and birds who call the land their home.
Things to know – know before you go
If you are interested in animal welfare and conservation, this is a truly memorable experience. Education is a vital foundation to Wild Ireland and one that is shared at great length with its visitors.
Guests can expect to learn much about the sanctuary’s residents, and how many of them were once subject of abuse.
The aim at Wild Ireland is for its visitors to leave with a newfound appreciation for Ireland’s native flora and fauna and an awareness of the importance of conservation on a global level to ensure the preservation of wildlife.
How long is the experience – how much time you will need
Each visit to Wild Ireland lasts approximately three hours. On arrival, you will notice a blackboard at reception, where the times of the keepers’ talks are listed.
Keep an eye out for the schedule, and take note of the ones that pique your interest. Keeper talks are a great way to learn more about a specific species and their ancient history on the Emerald Isle.
When to visit – the best time to go
Wild Ireland is open year-round. Please see the official website for the most up-to-date information regarding opening hours.
Tickets cost €10 for adults, €8 for children, and under two years of age goes for free.
Directions – how to get there
Wild Ireland is located near the Northern Ireland border in County Donegal. The easiest way to find the site is by using Google Maps and entering its Eircode: F93 KN7X.
What to bring – pack wisely
A rain jacket is always advised when enjoying outdoor excursions in Ireland. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are also recommended when visiting this wildlife sanctuary.
What’s nearby – what to see
The city of Derry is only a 15-minute drive from Wild Ireland, and being Northern Ireland’s second-biggest city, offers much to do.
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We suggest you leave time to check out the walls surrounding the city after you visit Wild Ireland. The Tower Museum (also located within the walls) makes for another top thing to do nearby.
Where to eat – excellent Irish cuisine
If you’re craving a pub feed in a warm, traditional setting, check out Fitzroy’s Bistro in Derry.
Alternatively, The Sooty Olive or Brickwork (both of which are also in Derry) offer epic dining experiences that would easily challenge any other city on the Emerald Isle.
Where to stay – fantastic accommodation
Glenview Lodge is an ideal accommodation option for those looking for a quaint homely stay while visiting Wild Ireland.
If a three-star hotel sounds more suitable, we would recommend the nearby An Grianan Hotel.
Should luxury be a defining factor when choosing where to stay, the five-star Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Derry is the place to be.