Wild Walks: John O’Callaghan park
John O’Callaghan Park is a medium sized park located near Riverstown, Glanmire. Bordered by the River Glashaboy and Butlerstown River and situated in an otherwise highly urbanised area, the park and adjacent woodland contain a wide diversity of habitats and wildlife.
John O’Callaghan park has a playground and outdoor gym area and walking trail just under 1 km in length – not including trails through the woodland located at the centre of the park.
There are many old native trees in the woodland and each tree supports its own unique ecosystem with an array of animals, plants and fungi. The rivers surrounding the park are also a great habitat for several fish species including Brown trout and Salmon, as well as freshwater plants and invertebrates such as damselflies and stoneflies. Buzzards can be seen flying high above the tree line and several species of butterfly and bees can be spotted in or near the wildflower patches, particularly Meadow Brown Butterflies, White tailed bumblebees and Red tailed bumblebees. The park is known to be home to several mammals, including bats, squirrels and foxes. If you are very lucky, you might even spot an elusive otter fishing in the rivers!
The park can be accessed at two entrance points, by vehicle opposite Meadowbrook estate (very limited car park space) or by the pedestrian entrance located on the southeast end of the park near the R639.
Scientific name: Salmo trutta
Irish name: Breac donn
Most widely distributed freshwater fish in Ireland. Found in rivers and lakes across the country however population numbers are decreasing. Size and colour are highly variable and dependent on the habitat the fish lives in. Can live up to 15 years.
Scientific name: Salmo salar
Irish name: Bradán
Found across Ireland and salmon runs can be seen in most rivers from Spring until Autumn. Atlantic salmon spend their juvenile phase in rivers before migrating out to sea to mature. They then need to return to rivers to complete their life cycle. Unfortunately, numbers in Ireland are declining.
Scientific name: Buteo buteo
Irish name: Clamhán
Resident medium-sized raptor (bird-of-prey) often seen soaring with spread outer wing feathers and a fan shaped tail. Very vocal when in flight, especially in spring. Populations have been slowly increasing across Ireland in the past century.
Scientific name: Bombus lapidarius
Irish name: Bumbóg earr-rua
Widespread and abundant bumblebee species in Ireland, although its numbers are declining, and it is classed by the IUCN as ‘Near Threatened’. Easily identified by their bright red ‘tail’. Most commonly seen from May to August on native flower species.
Scientific name: Ulmus glabra
Irish name: Leamhán sléibhe
Ireland’s only native elm species. Found mostly in lowland areas with moist soil and high humidity. At extreme risk due to Dutch Elm disease, an invasive fungus that has caused a huge reduction in elm populations across Europe.
Beautiful Demoiselle Damselfly
Scientific name: Calopteryx virgo
Irish name: Béchuil álainn
Easily mistaken for a dragonfly but is in fact a very large damselfly. Distinct metallic blue and green colours. Found along streams and rivers from May to August.