Glenveagh National Park
Churchill, Glenveagh National Park, Ireland
(074) 913 7090
Glenveagh National Park Reviews
Feb 19, 2008
Glenveagh National Park lies in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains in the north-west of Co. Donegal. It is a remote and hauntingly beautiful wilderness of rugged mountains and pristine lakes. The Park, over 14,000 acres in extent consists of three areas. The largest of these is the former Glenveagh Estate, including most of the Derryveagh Mountains. To the west are the quartzite hills around Crocknafarragh and to the south, the peatlands of Lough Barra bog, Meenachullion and Crockastoller.
Glenveagh is the haunt of many rare and interesting plants and animals and is famous for it’s fine herd of red deer. The Park contains the peaks of the two highest mountains in Co. Donegal, Errigal (752m) and Slieve Snaght (683m). The steep sided valley of Glenveagh holds the 5.5km-long Lough Veagh.
Much of the land which comprises modern Glenveagh National Park was originally consolidated into a single holding in the 19th Century by John George Adair, a wealthy land speculator from Co. Laois. The holding was managed as a private deer forest until 1975, when it was sold to the state and placed in the care of the Commissioner of Public Works to become a national Park.
A fine Victorian castle surrounded by beautiful gardens is picturesquely located on the eastern shore of the lake and provides the focal point for visitors to the Park. The last private owner Henry P. McIlhenny donated the castle, including much of its contents in 1983. The Park and gardens were officially opened to the public in 1984 and the Castle in 1986.
The Park's greatest feat is to have been involved in the Golden Eagles Project - aiming to re-introduce the species to Ireland. The Golden Eagle was once a common site over the mountains and coastal plains of Ireland but became extinct in 1912, due largely to the effects of human persecution. This makes Ireland the only country where Golden Eagles have become extinct in recent times.
After careful planning the actual reintroduction of Golden Eagle Chicks to Ireland began in 2001 with the successful delivery of 6 birds collected under licence from nests in Scotland. In 2005 some 42 birds have now been released from Glenveagh with reported sightings from as far away as the Gap of Dungloe, Co. Kerry! Golden Eagles do not breed until they are at least five or six years of age and it is hoped that six to eight pairs may be breeding in Donegal by 2010.
The best time of year to see Golden Eagles in the park is during the short winter days when there is a good possibility of seeing recently released birds. Though clearly visible to the naked eye, scanning the skyline with the aid of binoculars offers the best chance of spotting a soaring eagle. All released birds sport coloured wing tags to allow for individual identification and park staff would be very pleased to hear of any eagle sightings.
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