Ireland’s first marine national park is born

the Ireland splendid Emerald Island rich in still wild vegetation and legends, takes a further and important step towards the protection of its extraordinary natural heritage and does so thanks to the birth of the first national marine park, the Marine National Park on the Wild Atlantic Way.

It is the eighth park in Ireland and boasts an area of 290 hectares in the Kerry Peninsula, between the sea and the mainland of the Corca Dhuibhne Peninsula.

A treasure trove of precious iconic locations

The Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara is the custodian, in its perimeter, of representative locations of the country starting from Skelling Islands of which it is a part Skelling Michaelthe UNESCO World Heritage islet defined by George Bernard Shaw, “an incredible, impossible, crazy place“. Today home of sea birds, in the VI century it was the cradle of monastic buildings whose evidence remains in the ruins of the ancient monastery with two churches and six huts at 200 meters high: you can reach it, today as in the past, following an arduous staircase of hundreds of steps carved into the rock.

And we’re just getting started. In the heart of the fascinating Irish marine park, the mountain pass also stands out Pass Conorless than 500 meters high but a joy for the most experienced cyclists with the narrow and winding road that runs for 12 kilometers between the town of Dingle to the south and Kilmore Cross to the north and the scenery that cannot leave you indifferent, and Mount Brandonconsidered one of the most beautiful mountains in Ireland and also the highest (except MacGillycuddy’s Reeks), which preserves the ancient stone of Araghglen.

As the marine designation emphasizes, most of the park is oceanic and includes the Atlantic waters around the Blasket Islands and the limestone cliffs of Kerry Head Shoals, where it is easy to spot dolphins.

A park with the greatest ecological value in Europe

In addition to sites of incomparable beauty, Páirc Náisiúnta na Mara also boasts the greatest ecological value in Europe: in fact, all the areas included in it are special conservation areas under the EU Habitats Directive, e of special protection under the EU Birds Directive or nature reserves.

To give some examples, on the south side of the Dingle Peninsulathe beach of Inch Beach (surfer’s paradise) is also a breeding ground for the native and endangered natterjack toad, while the Conor Pass and Mt Brandon highlands preserve heathland with alpine flora e bogs which are an ideal habitat for the marsh fritillary butterfly, the otter and the peregrine falcon.

In addition, the Puffin Islands, Little Skellig, Skellig Michael and An Tiaracht are breeding grounds for birds such as the puffin, razorbill, storm petrel and puffin.

In turn, the waters that lap these islands are home to transit whales, dolphins, sharks and rays while the river that flows to Owenmore (below Conor Pass) is home to another endangered species , the fresh water muse.

The birth of Ireland’s first marine park means protection of biodiversity of the territory and the sustainable management of tourism. The Wild Atlantic Way thus adds a valuable element to its uniqueness and a guarantee of protection of its immense historical, natural and human heritage, a resource of inestimable value for Ireland and for all those who love the Emerald Isle.

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