Conor Pass to become ‘gateway’ to Ireland’s first marine national park

Conor Pass To Become ‘Gateway’ To Ireland’s First Marine National Park
The scenic Conor Pass route along the Dingle Peninsula is to become the “gateway” to Ireland’s first marine national park.
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

The scenic Conor Pass route along the Dingle Peninsula is to become the “gateway” to Ireland’s first marine national park.

The Government confirmed it bought the land months after it was put up for sale by its US owner last year.


It will form part of the new Pairc Naisiunta na Mara, made up of various locations around the Dingle Peninsula and comprising 70,000 acres of land and seas, making it Ireland’s largest national park.

The park includes the Owenmore River catchment, lands at Mount Brandon and the sand dune system at the Inch Peninsula, along with sites already under State ownership, such as the waters around the Blasket Islands.

There had been many public and political calls for the State to buy the 1,400 acres of land of the Conor Pass, but then-taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the State would not pay the guide price of €10 million.


It is understood the State paid less than €6 million for the land.

The narrow route runs along the side of cliffs and passes through scenic countryside along the Dingle Peninsula, and will now form the “gateway” for the new marine park, according to the Green Party.

Announcing the park on Monday, Nature, Heritage and Electoral Reform Minister Malcolm Noonan said it “signals a new era” for the protection and restoration of nature on the peninsula.

“With the iconic Conor Pass as the gateway, Ireland’s first marine national park brings mountains, blanket bog, heaths, rivers, coastal dunes, limestone reefs, sea cliffs and some of the wildest land and seascapes in the country together in celebration of nature,” he said.


“Alongside its seven sister parks, Pairc Naisiunta na Mara, Ciarrai will be a flagship for the protection and restoration of these incredible places and the globally important array of wildlife that they are home to.

“The Pairc will also honour the island and coastal communities who live alongside it by ensuring that their unique tapestry of cultural and natural heritage is central to the future story of this special place.”

Niall O Donnchu, director-general of the National Parks and Wildlife Service said the new park is “a celebration of heritage in all its forms”.

“Our biodiversity and natural heritage sit layered in harmony alongside monuments and historic wrecks from many periods.

“This is a place of iconic significance and majestic beauty. At times shrouded in mist as a far outpost, ethereal in its past, evocative in its firing of the imagination, and vital in its biodiversity. Undoubtedly, a place of local pride and universal value.

“We look forward to working with our partners, the Office of Public Works, the National Monuments Service, the Commissioners for Irish Lights, BirdWatch Ireland, Kerry County Council and the local communities to realise a truly world-class national park.”

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