Wildlife travel: What animals can I see in Ireland?

Receive a warm welcome and encounter a wealth of wildlife on land and at sea when you visit this gem of an island.

Wildlife travel: What animals can I see in Ireland?

Illustration by Dawn Cooper


1. Whooper swan, Inch Wildfowl Reserve

Whooper swan © Tim Graham / Getty

More than 6,000 whooper swans have been recorded here in early winter, along with other seasonal visitors.


2. Irish hare, Ards Peninsula

Many people believe the Irish hare should have full species status (rather than being classified as a subspecies of the mountain hare). On the Ards Peninsula, try the National Trust’s Ballyquintin Farm.


3. Fin whale, Off the coast of Cork

Fin whale © Cultura George Karbus Photography / Getty

The world’s second largest animal is regularly seen off the south coast of Ireland, with sightings peaking from September to December. Other marine species to spot include humpback whales, Risso’s dolphins and basking sharks.


4. White-tailed eagle, Killarney NP

White-tailed eagle © Blackpool College/Getty

This raptor was reintroduced to Killarney in 2007 and is now breeding here. Also try the Mountshannon eagle-watching hut on Lough Derg or take a boat trip out of Glengarriff.


5. Bottlenose dolphin, Shannon Estuary

Bottlenose dolphin © Campbell Nature Picture Library / Getty

The Shannon has one of the largest populations of bottlenose dolphins in the British Isles, and sightings are virtually guaranteed. Present in the estuary from May–September.


6. Narrow-leaved marsh orchid, The Burren

Narrow-leaved marsh orchid © Flowerphotos / Getty

Unique is an over-used word, but The Burren – some 250km2 of karst limestone landscape – is surely deserving. Narrow-leaved marsh orchids thrive in the thin soils and grikes of this Irish treasure.


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