Ballycroy National Park or Wild Nephin National Park

Ballycroy National Park


Location: County Mayo Map

Area: 11,779 ha


Ballycroy National Park is a nature reserve in County Mayo in Ireland. Ballycroy National Park covers an area of 11,779 ha. The lands on which the park was created were previously used for peat mining and agriculture, as well as for recreation, including hunting and fishing. In the park there are remains of buildings of various ages, mainly used as hunting lodges. Before the creation of the park, land was purchased by the state.

The Bangor Trail, which has existed since the end of the 16th century, runs through the park. This route connects Newport with Bangor Erris. This path, before the start of road construction, was the main route linking Bangor Erris to the port. Goods transported in the port were transported through it, along the same route the Irish who emigrated to America moved in the opposite direction.

Ballycroy National Park contains one of Ireland’s fewer peatland ecosystems. In addition, there are other natural systems in the park: meadows, moorlands, lakes and river floodplains.

Of the mammals, a fox, a badger, an otter, a hare, a small shrew and several species of bats are found. There is a red deer on the borders of the park, which was released here and has never been seen before in this area. In groups of conifers there is a pine marten. Fish are found in the rivers (Atlantic salmon, trout, eel). There are many species of birds, including raven, whooper swan, various species of hawks and falcons.

Flora in the park is characteristic of the corresponding natural zones. So, in the swamps, mosses and Schoenus nigricans predominate. Several rare plant species are found, including Saxifraga hirculus, which is under protection.


Creation of the national park

The European Habitats Directive, which was implemented into Irish law in 1997, lists certain habitats and species that Ireland is intended to conserve through shelters. These areas include extensive wetlands such as that of Ballycroy. Ballycroy is one of the largest surviving wetlands in Western Europe.



The park is characterized by extensive swamps, escarpments and riverine habitats. The marshes have one of the largest expanses of peat bog preserved in Europe. Thus, according to the European Union, the protection is of "international importance" because the area offers various rare creatures and especially plants, a so-called ecological niche. The River Owenduff is also preserved as it is the only river in western Europe that provides drainage for a relatively intact and extensive marsh system. Lots of salmon and brown trout live in it.

A visitor center funded by the Irish Government is located in Ballycroy. The 700 m² building is intended to increase public recognition of the park and its landscape.



The national park offers a habitat for many bird species, e.g. B. the whooper swan, dunlin, sandpiper, woodcock and dipper. Birds of prey are represented by peregrine falcons, sparrowhawks and goshawks, and in winter you can also see hen harriers. Red grouse and golden plovers also breed here. The park is also important for Greenland's white-fronted geese and golden plover, which are winter visitors in large numbers.

Notable mammal species include otters, arctic hares and several species of bats including the gnat bat. Red fox, badger and pine marten are more common.



The territory of the park, like the entire north of Mayo County, was formed in the Precambrian period. The west is composed of shales and gneisses, the east - mainly of quartzite. The relief was finally formed during the last glaciation, which gave the mountains a smooth outline and contributed to the emergence of many small lakes in the valleys.



In the village of Ballykroy open information center of the park. The park also has a hiking trail with information about plants.