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Ballycroy National Park

posted Sep 3, 2019, 9:10 AM by Bernard O'Hara

Ballycroy National Park Visitors’ Centre (NPWS)
Ballycroy National Park in north-west County Mayo on the Wild Atlantic Way is one of Ireland’s six national parks. Established in 1998, it contains a vast area of blanket bog, with walks and trails, as well as amazing flora and fauna. Ballycroy Visitors’ Centre established in 2009, which contains an interactive interpretative exhibition of the local landscape, habitats, and species to be found in the park and an information desk, is located just off the N59 at the village of Ballycroy, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A two- kilometre walking route has been designed beside the centre to provide a quick taste of Ballycroy National Park.
Ballycroy National Park comprises over 11,000 hectares of blanket bog and mountainous terrain in a vast pristine landscape. The park is enclosed, with the Nephin Beg range of mountains on the east and south, including the peaks of Claggan Mountain, 365m, Cushcamcarragh, 714m, Bengorm, 582m, Glennamong, 628m, Nephin Beg, 627m, Corslieve, 541m, and SlieveCarr, 721m (the highest peak), running south to north. Scardaun Loughs can be seen between Nephin Beg and Slieve Carr, while the Owenduff and Tarsaghaunmore Rivers run through the park. The park includes Owenduff Bog, one of the last intact active bog systems in the west of Europe, as well as other important habitats and species. The 25-kilometre Bangor to Newport Walking Trail goes through the park. Ballycroy National Park is part of the Owenduff/Nephin Special Area of Conservation and Special Protection Area. These designations are established to protect rare habitats and species under the European Community Habitats and Birds Directives. The park is managed by the National Parks and Wildlife (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.
In a new initiative announced in March 2013, Coillte (custodians of 7% of Irish land) and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are co-operating to create ‘Wild Nephin’, a unique landscape of forest, mountain, bog, river and lakes in the Nephin Beg range of mountain terrain. The proposal involves Coillte taking 4,400 hectares out of their forest stock and improving its habitat and landscape quality over several years as well as linking it up with the adjoining Ballycroy National Park. The proposed Nephin Park will provide visitors with a real wilderness experience, a unique environment not alone in Ireland but in Europe.
Ballycroy is the location of Ireland’s first Dark Sky Park, ‘showcasing some of the darkest and most pristine skies in the world’ according to its promotional material. The Arizona-based International Dark-Sky Association granted ‘Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park’ status to Ballycroy National Park and the Wild Nephin Wilderness in May 2016 – to be jointly known as ‘Mayo Dark Sky Park’. A Gold classification is a wonderful recognition for the region’s pristine nightscapes, enhancing its existing protected landscapes and wilderness regions. Viewing sites for visiting astronomers have been designated and graded by ease of access and facilities available. Signature viewing sites include the Claggan Mountain Boardwalk, Letterkeen Bothy and Ballycroy National Park Visitor Centre, all of which have excellent interpretive and parking facilities. Here, a person can enjoy a diverse range of nocturnal wildlife as well as the wonders of the universe, where on a clear night over 3,000 stars can be seen. Mayo County Council has committed to ‘dark sky friendly’ lighting in the area and is working with the Friends of Mayo Dark Skies group to further reduce light pollution where possible.

Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at, or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press ( and is available from and It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).