Ballycroy National Park to become the third largest of the State’s six national parks after land transfer.

Ballycroy National Park in Co Mayo will expand by almost 50% after news that lands owned by Coillte are getting transferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. The land transfer will bring the total area of the park to over 15,000 hectares.

The plans have been in the pipeline for several years, and it seems it will now finally happen. The move will see 4,600 hectares Wild Nephin area incorporated into Ballycroy National Park.

Coillte is said to want to ensure that the area is returned to a natural wilderness that will augment the existing parklands. The majority of the national park is already part of the Owenduff/Nephin Special Area of Conservation. The Park is also already a Dark Sky designation for stargazing.

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The transfer will make a big difference to the ease of access to the eastern area of the existing park, which at the moment is a good distance away from the Park’s visitor centre. The expansion will also allow for links to the Great Western Greenway extending north to Bangor Erris and Ballycastle.

NPWS’s divisional manager for the west Denis Strong said that, “The Western Way already runs from Connemara through the Nephins to Ballycastle and the idea is that we will work with consultants on a conversion plan that develops walking and cycle routes. This is a long-term project, and today is the first chapter.”

The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring says, “The transfer of the beautiful Wild Nephin area into Ballycroy National Park will make Ballycroy one of the largest national parks in the country and one of the premier destinations to experience nature in a pristine and wild landscape. This gives both the country and importantly the community another accessible area of un-mirrored and unrivalled beauty.”

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