THE Mountshannon Eagle Group says it expects visitor numbers at the White Tailed Sea Eagles Viewing & Information Point in County Clare to reach 10,000 before the end of September.
Between July 4 and September 15, 9,400 people from all over Ireland and abroad have passed through the facility to catch a glimpse of Ireland’s largest and most spectacular breeding birds, including the first of the species to be born in the country in 110 years.
Located at Mountshannon Pier and funded by Clare County Council, the new tourism development features telescopes and information and displays about the White Tailed Sea Eagles.
Denis Minogue, chairperson of the Mountshannon Eagle Group, which operates the facility alongside the Golden Eagle Trust and the Mountshannon Community Council, commented: “The good weather has had a positive effect on visitor numbers but there also appears to be a significant and genuine interest and fascination amongst the general public in these wonderful birds. People are especially fascinated by how and why the birds have settled in Lough Derg.”
Mr Minogue continued: “When the chick fledged during the summer we were worried that sightings would be hit or miss, but thankfully the birds have been very active in the skies. The word about the birds and the Viewing & Information Point seems to spreading and this can only have positive implications for future visitor numbers.”
Congella McGuire, Clare Heritage officer, commented: “Clare County Council is delighted to have played a leading role in increasing public interest in the local White Tailed Sea Eagle population without disturbing them in their natural habitat. By doing so, the Council is playing a key role in safeguarding these impressive birds and their nesting activities as well as providing an excellent addition to the local tourism infrastructure.”
She added: “This project demonstrates the potential in terms of tourism product development at this location and we would hope to engage with the local community to assess the scope for further phases to the project.”
The Mountshannon breeding pair, a six-year-old male and five-year-old female, was originally collected as chicks on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway by the Golden Eagle Trust. The birds were released in Killarney National Park before relocating to Lough Derg in 2011.
The pair, named Saoirse and Caimin, created history in 2013 when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in 110 years. The pair successfully hatched another chick in late April 2014.
Visit www.mountshannoneagles.ie for more on the Mountshannon White Tailed Sea Eagles Viewing & Information Point.