Friday 10th November 2023 was a very special and significant day for the people of Mayo and specifically for the Wild Nephin National Park – Páirc Náisiúnta Néifinne Fiáine with none less than three major achievements and milestones being announced.
Minister of State for Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Malcolm Noonan TD visited the site at Srahmore on Friday. He launched a new bothy; a loop trail (the Wilderland project); as well as announcing the twinning of the Wild Nephin National Park – Páirc Náisiúnta Néifinne Fiáine with Yosemite National Park in California, USA.
The Famine Cottage turned ‘Bothy’ at Wild Nephin National Park
Minister Noonan unveiled a plaque at McCann’s Cottage in the Wild Nephin National Park. The cottage, which was originally home to local man Paddy McCann and his family until their death during the Great Famine, has been restored by National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff over the past year. As part of an innovative heritage project to restore former cottages for use as bothies, it will provide shelter for hikers, walkers and star gazers visiting Wild Nephin National Park.
Speaking at the event on Friday the Minister said:“Today we celebrate our efforts to manage and protect our natural heritage in the beautiful surroundings of Wild Nephin National Park. We also recall a dark and sad time from our nation’s history. We mark the lived experience and history of the community here in Mayo, many of whom were forced to leave their homes during the Great Famine. It is fitting here today that I announce this agreement between Ireland and the USA, which provided refuge for so many of our ancestors.
As we remember the events which will always connect our history, we also open a new chapter in our relationship – to protect nature and biodiversity in our National Parks, for the future benefit and enjoyment of local communities and visitors to National Parks in Ireland and the USA.”
New loop trail at Wild Nephin National Park
During his visit, Minister Noonan also opened a new walking trail from McCann’s Cottage up to Jamsie’s Well, Letterkeen. This loop walk was developed as part of the Wilderland project. According to local folklore, the properties of water from Jamsie’s well is pure and is said to hold the cure for kidney stones!
Twinning with Yosemite National Park in California
The Wild Nephin National Park in Ballycroy will be twinned with the Yosemite National Park in California as part of a five year ‘Sister Park Arrangement’.
The Sister Park agreement will enable international co-operation between both parks to support their shared goals in nature conservation and promoting natural and cultural tourism. Activities under the arrangement will include information exchange, collaboration and sharing good practice in areas such as community engagement, cultural and visitor service management, forestry and fire management, wilderness and dark sky management and climate change.
U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Claire Cronin said: “I am delighted at the announcement of the Sister Park agreement signed by Wild Nephin National Park in Mayo and Yosemite National Park in California. This agreement will foster collaboration to preserve and increase natural biodiversity, to restore healthier habitats, to encourage environmental education and to promote tourism and cultural exchange.”
“In the U.S. we are proud of our National Parks – often called “America’s Best Idea” – and the National Park Service ensures that our parks’ natural beauty will be protected for generations to come. I am confident that the professionals from Yosemite and Wild Nephin have much to learn from each other,” she said.
A signing ceremony for the Sister Park agreement will take place in early 2024.
About Wild Nephin National Park
Wild Nephin National Park which was formerly known as the Ballycroy National Park was designated as Ireland’s sixth National Park in 1998. The Park is home to Owenduff Bog, one of the largest intact active blanket bog systems in Western Europe. In addition it has a wide range of protected species and habitats, including internationally important freshwater river systems and associated habitats. As well as this Wild Nephin National Park showcases some of the most pristine night skies in the world and is certified as a Gold Tier standard International Dark Sky Park (Mayo Dark Sky Park), drawing new visitors to the park over the winter months.
Manager of Mayo North Tourism Mairéad Melody Carr extended her congratulations to: “the tireless work and dedication of Denis Strong, Divisional Manager, and all the staff in the National Park & Wildlife Services on this project. As well as to those involved in the remarkable reconstruction of the McCann cottage. This is a very special part of the world. It is no wonder that the BBC have promoted this spectacular area as the ‘Ireland’s loneliest wilderness’. It is a great attraction and wonderful to see the strengthening of our connections with the USA through nature!”
View the park from a different angle
If you would like to see Wild Nephin National Park from a different angle, then check out My360town’s Wild Nephin National Park – Páirc Náisiúnta Néifinne Fiáine recent map! It aims to improve the user experience before visitors book a trip, build a sense of excitement and familiarity. Here you can now explore the from above and on the ground. You can explore what’s around the Ballycroy Visitor Centre. As well as this, it even includes AED locations, disabled access and parking, even EV charging points! Just click the icon to explore!
Email: [email protected]; Call: +353 (0)98 49888
Address: Ballycroy Visitor Centre – Wild Nephin National Park, Gortbrack South, Ballycroy, Co. Mayo, F28 RX77