Wild Walks: Ballincollig Regional Park
OverviewBallincollig regional park is located on the south bank, 9km west of Cork City centre. The park has a rich heritage, as it was once a gunpowder mill, operating from the 18th century all the way to the start of the 20th century. The mill is now an open-air museum, composed of ruins described by appropriate signage.
The site was left to regenerate and is now used as an amenity park, measuring at approximately 135 acres. The park has open grassland, GAA, football and rugby pitches, a skate park, playground, and outdoor gym, as well as several semi-natural and natural habitats, including dry and wet woodland, meadow, and riparian zones. A report initiated by Ballincollig Tidy Towns Association and supported by the heritage council in 2005 recorded over 59 species of bird, 5 bat species, 56 species of butterfly, moths, damselflies, and dragon flies, as well as 200 types of wildflowers and 35 species of trees and shrubs. Several other mammals call the park home, including the badger, red fox, hedgehog, stoat, pygmy shrew, and otter. Take particular notice of the extensive stone wall on site. It provides a unique habitat, where small plants and ferns can flourish.
Ballincollig Tidy Towns also created an impressive pollinator trail with the help of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, some of which falls within the regional park. Find out more here: Ballincollig Tidy Town Biodiversity
Cork Nature Network are also creating a Ballincollig Otter Trail! Keep an eye on our website for more details.
There is a car park located at the east and west entrance to the park, or near the centre just off Inishmore Lawn. The park is in walking distance of the town centre, which is serviced by 2 bus routes. Trails can be joined from several points. The park does have set opening and closing times so be sure to check for Ballincollig Regional Park community Facebook group and Corkcity.ie for opening hours updates.
The park has four trail loops that are colour coded and marked on signs and posts throughout the park. This means you can adjust the length of walk and can choose which type of paths to walk on (e.g., a large, smooth, levelled path extends all the way from the east entrance to the west entrance or smaller, dirt paths zigzag through woodland and grassland located at the centre of the park).
- The Heron Trail – 1-2km
- The Ash Trail – 3km
- The Powdermills Trail – 5km
- The Wood Trial – 3.2 km
Scientific Name: Sorus Minutus
Irish Name: Dallog fhraoigh
The pygmy shrew is Ireland’s smallest mammal measuring at only 4.5-6 cm (extra 5 cm for their slender tail) and typically weighing less than 4 grams at maturity (less than a 50c coin). They feed on insects found in dense vegetation and leaf litter. A single shrew eats its own body weight in food every day and due to their high metabolic rate and inability to store excess fat, pygmy shrews need to eat every four hours to survive.
Scientific Name: Meles meles
Irish Name: Broc
The badger is the largest terrestrial carnivore in Ireland, feeding on a wide range of plants and animals including berries, insects, and small vertebrates. Its stocky body and sharp claws make it an adept digger; badger group sizes varies but up to 10 badgers can live in a single sett (their underground home) and their range can be up to 300 hectares. Badgers are protected under the Irish Wildlife Act (Wildlife Act, 1976; Wildlife Amendment Act, 2000).
Scientific Name: Lonicera periclymenum
Irish Name: Féithleann
Honeysuckle is a fragrant, deciduous woody twining vine that grows around other shrubs and hedges. Honeysuckle attracts bees, birds and small mammals due to its sweet smell, nectar and fruit. From June to October, the plant produces beautiful creamy flowers and then red barriers after pollination.
Latin: Lycaena phlaeas Hibernica
Irish: Copróg bheag
The Small Copper is a fast-flying butterfly that is unmistakable with its bright copper-coloured forewings. It is widespread in Ireland, usually found in fields, hedgerows, and open woodland. Common sorrel and broad-leaved docks are the main food source for caterpillars, which are also recorded in this site.
Irish Name: Rí Rua
Scientific name: Fringilla coelebs
A common finch, Chaffinch’s are found in woodlands, farmland, parks and gardens. Males have an orange/brown face, breast and underside and a blue/grey crown. Females are much duller in colour. Both sexes have long tails and white wing feathers.
Scientific name: Salix alba
Irish name: saileach bhán
White willow is the largest species of willow, growing up to 25m in height. Their leaves are slender and oval, with soft felty hairs on the underside. After pollination by insects, willows grow small capsules containing seeds surrounding by white down which allows seed dispersal by wind.