Slyne Head Islands

Slyne Head Islands are located to the west of Co. Galway. They are an established breeding ground for Terns and one of the largest Tern colonies in Ireland is located on Illaunmid, one of the Slyne Head islands. Slyne Head Lighthouse, constructed in 1836, is the westernmost point of the county.

Cruagh Island

Of special interest on the small Cruagh Island are Barnacle Geese that regularly visit the island in wintertime for feeding. Also of interest is a recent growing population of Manx Shearwaters that, like swans, form life-long bonds with their partner.    

There are significant populations of many other bird species, such as Manx Shearwater, Gulls, Storm Petrel and Black Guillemots.

Aran Islands
Courtesy Joe Desbonnet /

Aran Islands

Some of the best known islands in Galway are the three Aran Islands, Inishmaan, Inishmore and Inisheer, which are a geological extension of the Burren region in Co. Clare. They have major scientific and ecological importance, and exceptional Kartstic Carboniferous Limestone dominates the landscapes over much of islands. Nestled amid the stretches of limey, calcareous grasslands, is the notable rare and protected plant species Hairy Violet. Orchids, Eyebright, Blue Moor-grass are just some of the more common species that flourish throughout the island’s meadows.

Dry limestone heath has developed in certain areas of the Aran Islands , supporting the associated Ling Heather and Bell Heather. Inishmore is host to the only recorded population of sublittoral purple sea urchins in Ireland. Soft corals, sponges and anemones are prevalent along the island’s underwater caves.

Seabirds such as Cormorants, Shags and Fulmars, together with inland species such as Sparrowhawk, Raven, Wheatear and Wren all find shelter on the Aran Islands. The Peregrin Falcon, protected under the European Birds Directive, also breeds on Inishmore.


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