Ballycroy National Park
Ballycroy National Park in County Mayo, and the Visitor Centre can be located in Ballycroy, County Mayo between the towns of Mulranny and Bangor. Established in 1981, Ballycroy National Park is made up of blanket bog land, alpine heath, upland grassland and mountain views of Nephin Beg mountain range and also enjoy Scardaun Loughs. Owenduff bog is one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe and is an important scientific and scenic feature of the National Park. Important fauna in Ballycroy National Park in Mayo include Greenland White-fronted Geese, Golden Plover, Red Grouse and Otters.
The Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Glacial activity over the past 2.5 million years has created some of the most scenic features of the Park. These include the many corrie lakes such as Corryloughaphuill Lough. Glacial boulder clay, found at the southern edge of the Nephin beg mountain range, is further evidence of glacial activity.
The Burren National Park
The Burren National Park is located in the Burren is an area of extensive rock and wild fauna. The area has extensive coverage of limestone, calcareous grassland, hazel scrub, lakes, and wild fauna. A trip to the Burren National Park offers a view of the many diverse plants living in the one ecosystem.
The visitor to the Burren can experience Alpine plants living side by side with Mediterranean plants, calcicole (lime loving) and calcifuge (acid loving) plants growing adjacent to one another and woodland plants growing out in the open with not a tree nearby to provide shade from the sun.
The Burren National Park offers views of Knockanes mountain range and had Mullaghmor to the south. Also within the Burren National Park are several lakes such as Lough Gealáin, Travaun Lough, Coolorta Lough, Coolreash Lough, Aughrim Lough, Ballyeighter Lough and Lough Bunny. Some of these lakes behave partly as Turloughs being fed from the ground water through springs.
Connemara National Park
Connemara National Park located in the West of Ireland in County Galway offers much to the visitor such as grasslands and woodlands, large spans of bog and heath, and wonderful mountains views including Benbaun, Bencullagh, Benbrack and Muckanaght, are part of the famous Twelve Bens or Beanna Beola range where there are metamorphic type rock. Western blanket bog and heathland are the main vegetation in the Park.
Purple moor grass adds colour to the area. Travel from Letterfrack to access the Visitor Centre and the National Park of Connemara, which was named Bioblitz Champions of 2010. The National Park had been part of the lands of the Kylemore Abbey Estate initially. Also seen within the Connemara National Park are signs of old megalithic court tombs. Enjoy the visit.
Glenveagh National Park
Glenveagh National Park situated in Co. Donegal, north-west of Letterkenny and can be reached via the villages of Kilmacrennan or Churchill. Set in Glenveagh National Park is Glenveagh Castle & Gardens (open to the public), the Castle is a 19th century castellated mansion and was built between 1867 and 1873. Glenveagh is set on 16,000 acres in the heart of the Derryveagh Mountains with Lough Veagh & Dunlewy Lake close by. The Park lands were managed as a private deer forest before becoming a national park in 1975 and opened to the public in 1986. Upland blanket bog, which today covers the greater part of Glenveagh, was preceded by forests of Scots pine and birch, giving way to oak, hazel and alder on the lower slopes.
The drier patches are favoured by ling heather, bell heather, crowberry and blaeberry. The latter shrub, which has edible blue berries, is also known as bilberry or frochan. The damper patches of bog support wet grassland containing fescue, deer grass, rushes and purple moor grass or molinia. Purple moor grass is avoided by deer who seek out the sweeter grasses and sedges. This favours the growth of molinia , which is particularly abundant in Glenveagh. The largest animal in the park is to be found grazing on the grasses and sedges of the bog, the red deer.
Though enclosed by the deer fence the Glenveagh herd of Red Deer remain completely wild and as with most wild animals can be difficult to approach. The best time for watching Red Deer is during the mating season or ‘rut’ which takes place each year between mid-September and mid-November. The sheer abundance of meadow pipits in Glenveagh is noteworthy. The Glenveagh Visitor Centre is located on the northern end of Lough Veagh, near the edge of the National Park. Its award-winning design incorporates a living heather roof mimicking the surrounding landscape causing minimum disturbance
Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park offers some wonderful scenery from the view of the McGillycuddy Reeks Irelands highest mountain range to the famous Killarney Lakes. Set within Killarney National Park is Muckross House & Gardens. The park contains native oakwoods & yew woods along with other trees and shrubs in this mild climate. Red Deer and Kerry Cattle can also be found roaming in the Park. Killarney National Park was designated in 1981 a Biosphere Reserve, by UNESCO. Killarney National Park is suitable for walkers and cyclists and you may be passed by jaunting cars along the way. Enjoy a midway stop off point at Dinis Cottage to enjoy a sit down and a cup of tea.
Wicklow Mountains National Park
Wicklow Mountains National Park, County Wicklow established in 1991 including Glendalough Woods and the adjacent Glenealo Valley, and land around the Liffey Head Bog complex were also purchased from the Powerscourt Estate to include in the Park. The Park consists primarily of heath and bog cloaked uplands along with woodland in the river valleys. The rounded granite mountains forged some 500 million years ago now support a wide diversity of wildlife. The geological divide between granite and schist is clearly visible in places like Glendalough where coarse granite boulder scree suddenly gives way to smoother shiny schist.
The flora ranges from different types of ferns, Narrow Buckler Fern, Wilson's Filmy Fern, Beech Fern, to mosses, herbs, rushes, and grasses. The Park has most of the mammal species that are found inland in Ireland. Some are easier to find than others. One such being the Wild Goat grazing in small herds in the Glendalough valley, deer & the Mountain Hare. Rabbits are found at lower, drier altitudes where they can find suitable soil to burrow in. Red Squirrels can be seen scrambling in the stands of pine trees and the Grey Squirrel is now also establishing a presence. The Wicklow Mountains are famous for granite rock which has been quarried for centuries. Mining for lead and other minerals such as zinc and silver was a major industry in the Wicklow Mountains. The formation of these minerals is tied in with the process of granite and schist formation.