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Gems of Ireland: 6 Breathtaking Parks

 

Ireland is easily recalled as a green wonderland. The Repulbic enjoys the privilege of six national parks, dedicated to preserving the unique lands that make up Ireland's gorgeous scenery. Come wander with us through the six majestic parks of the Emerald Isle. 

The Burren National Park

The Burren is a gorgeous rocky landscape in County Clare and features the smallest, but no less glorious, of Ireland's national parks. The limestone splendid setting uniquely supports arctic, alpine and Mediterranean flora and fauna and accordingly much of the parkland is designated a Special Area of Conservation. You can visit the legendary Cliffs of Moher or Poulnabrone Dolmen, one of Ireland's more famous portal tombs.

Irish National Parks
Image by: Jim (code poet)
Irish National Parks
Image by: cosmo_71
Irish National Parks
Image by: Tom Fahy
Irish National Parks
Image by: Eric Atkins
Irish National Parks
Image by: Nicolas Raymond

Wicklow Mountains National Park

Close to County Dublin, this gorgeous park, replete with stunning mountains, is an extremely popular tourist destination. Points of interest include Glendalough Valley featuring remnants of a Medieval monastery, the Lugnaquilla Mountain and the Powerscourt Waterfall, the tallest in Ireland at 397 feet (121 meters).

Irish National Parks
Image by: Joe King
Irish National Parks
Image by: Joe King
Irish National Parks
Image by: Joe King
Irish National Parks
Image by: Joe King

Connemara National Park

Situated in County Galway, Connemara's park is an exquisite landscape. Much of the land was once the estate of the nearby Kylmore Abbey.  The park boasts the Twelve Bens mountain range and is the origin of the athletic pony breed, the Connemara pony. Venture out to Ballynahinch Castle, situated 8 miles (20 km) from the park, a picturesque hotel with a magnificent spot for fly fishing.

Irish National Parks
Image by: cosmo_71
Irish National Parks
Image by: Tom Fahy
Irish National Parks
Image by: Simone A. Bertinotti
Irish National Parks
Image by: Dennis Wilkinson

Killarney National Park

An impressive park in County Kerry, established decades before any of the other national parks, Killarney National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, abundant with woodlands, lakes, and mountains. Walk the trail of the Black Valley, considered one of the remotest areas of Ireland, and see the oft-photographed Drumluska Cottage. Be enchanted by the Ancient Emerald Forest Trail, or the Ross Castle, resting on the shores of the park's lower lakes.

Irish National Parks
Image by: Nicolas Raymond
Irish National Parks
Image by: John Finn
Irish National Parks
Image by: Jerzy Strzelecki
Irish National Parks
Image by: Nicolas Raymond

Glenveagh National Park

Ireland's second largest national park, Glenveagh, is situated in lush County Donegal. You can fish on Lake Lough Veagh, walk the many hilltop trails, or appreciate the lovely Glenveagh Castle. The park is home to Ireland's largest herd of red deer, and enjoys a population of formerly extinct golden eagle, which was reintroduced into the park in 2000.

Irish National Parks
Image by: Alun Webb
Irish National Parks
Image by: Randy Durrum
Irish National Parks
Image by: Stephen Collins
Irish National Parks
Image by: Ana Rey

Ballycroy National Park

Situated in County Mayo, is the newest addition to Ireland's six national parks. Close to the western seaboard, lies Ballycroy National Park, a largely uninhabited land and a wilderness unspoiled by industrialization. Home to the Nephin Beg mountain range and the Owenduff river, which encounters an impressive range of migratory birds. On a good day birdwatchers can spot rare species such the peregrine falcon, corncrake or whooper swan.

Irish National Parks
Image by: Youngbillyhappy
Irish National Parks
Image by: Anthony Hickey
Irish National Parks
Image by: Ballycroy National Park
Irish National Parks
Image by: Phil Armitage
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