Looking to explore Ireland’s wildlife? Whether you’re interested in what stalks our landscapes, swims in our pristine waters, or swoops down from the sky, Ireland has got your next wild adventure covered.
With several National Parks in the Republic of Ireland and designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Northern Ireland, you’ve got plenty of options if you want to get close to Ireland’s wildlife amidst stunning surroundings. Killarney National Park in the rugged Wild Atlantic Way is home to the last surviving indigenous herd of red deer in Ireland as well as rare species including the Irish hare and the otter. Watch the skies above the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland and you may see red kites, kestrels and peregrine falcons soaring through the air.
Dublin may seem like an unlikely spot for wildlife but the city’s Phoenix Park boasts its own herd of fallow deer, which were introduced in the 17th century. Just remember to keep your distance from these wild animals and simply enjoy the opportunity to observe them in their natural habitat.
In Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, you’ll find Clara Bog, one of the finest examples of a raised bog in Ireland and home to many protected wildlife species, including the pine marten and Ireland’s smallest bird of prey, the merlin. Follow the looped boardwalk and drop into the visitor center to learn more about this fascinating landscape.
Ireland is an island, after all, so why not take to the seas to investigate the marine wildlife? Our southwest coast is a summer feeding ground for a number of whale species so head to West Cork and set sail with Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours where you may be lucky enough to spot fin, minke, and even humpback whales, as well as dolphins.
Seals are common in Ireland’s waters, and if you want to do some seal-spotting, try Strangford Lough in Ireland’s northeast – it’s home to the largest breeding colony of harbor seals on the island. You can also visit Seal Rescue Ireland in County Wexford to meet the seals on a guided tour and find out how they are rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Those looking for an epic sea adventure should try the Gobbins Sea Safari in County Antrim, which offers a unique perspective on the local wildlife in the area, including Northern Ireland’s only mainland colony of puffins.
A must for birdwatchers is a trip to Rathlin Island off the north Antrim coast – home of Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony. Make your way to the Seabird Centre run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for close-up views of rare seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills and puffins.
Finish your wildlife trip on a high – literally! The golden eagle was reintroduced to the Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal in 2001 after an absence of over 100 years, and nothing will fill your heart more than the sight of this majestic predator soaring above the surrounding hills.