Wild Walks: The Glen River Park
The Glen River Park is situated in a deep steep-sided glacial valley on the north side of the City, just off the North Ring Road. Once the place of Goulding’s factory in the 1850s, the site was donated to the people of Cork in the late 1960s and has since been repurposed, in part, as the Glen River amenity park.
Within this park, you will find a truly amazing display of habitats, wildlife, and walking paths, as well as an open-access sports field. Surrounded on either side by residential estates, Glen Park provides a connection between Blackpool, the Glen, and Ballyvolane.
In the basin of the valley, where the Glen River flows, there are diverse wetland areas, including ponds, wet grassland, wet woodland, and reedbeds, which provide refuge for birds, mammals, and invertebrates. Amongst the river and wet woodland, the common frog, white-throated dipper, Moorhen, Heron, Kingfisher, and many more plants and animals make their home. Further down the path, where the habitat transitions to wood and scrubland, Elm trees whose upper branches are dead, but the tree is still growing are used by birds for high perches overlooking the valley. Walking along the steep valley, covered by ferns, gorse, bramble, young oak, you may spot the common lizard basking in the sun or grasshoppers amongst the dense vegetation. Due to its long and narrow shape and steep valleys, the park is a perfect oasis from the noises of city life.
There are 4 entrance points to the park (Ballyhooly Road, North Ring Road, Ballyvolane and Sunview park). We recommend Ballyhooly Road entrance as it is serviced by 2 cork City bus routes and has a good-sized carpark.
There are 3 well-known trails in the park.
Site 1: N ring road entrance
Scientific name: Zootoca vivipara
Irish name: Laghairt bheobhreitheach
Ireland’s only native lizard. Found mostly in coastal areas, grasslands and bogs. Primarily eats invertebrates such as spiders, snails and worms. Most active from March to May. Unlike most reptiles, this lizard does not lay eggs – instead it gives birth to live young. They are found on the sunny, scrubland, hillside of the Glen Park.
Scientific name: Erica cinerea
Irish name: Fraoch Cloigíneach
Native evergreen shrub common on hills and moorlands with dry, acidic soil. Flowers bloom from June to September. Petals are fused together to make the appearance of a bell. They can be found on the steep valley slopes of the Glen River Park when entering from the North Ring Road side, where the habitat is dominated by scrubland.
Scientific name: Accipiter nisus
Irish name: Spioróg
Resident small raptor (bird-of-prey) with a long tail and blunt wing tips. Can be identified by barred breast which is orange/brown in males and brown-grey in females. The female is also larger than the male. They fly over the park, looking for small prey birds in the scrub and trees.
Common Green Grasshopper
Scientific name: Omocestus viridulus
Irish name: Dreoilín teaspaigh
Found in Ireland in long grass in farmland, heathlands, and uplands. Most often seen between April and October. Typically, 17-20mm long and green all over, although sometimes it has brown on sides. Pink grasshoppers have been reported in the Glen Park!
Scientific name: Rana temporaria
Irish name: Loscán
Most widespread of Ireland’s three native amphibian species. Inhabits both aquatic and terrestrial habitats all across the country. Reaches a length of 6-8cm with females typically being larger than males. Although they spend much of their time in terrestrial habitats, they need wet conditions to successfully reproduce.
Two-banded longhorn beetle
Scientific name: Rhagium bifasciatum
Irish name: Ciaróg fhadadharcach
Large beetle reaching 22mm in length. Can be identified by the two pale yellow bands on the wings. Commonly found in woodlands on tree trunks and low vegetation.
Site 2: Sunview park entrance
Scientific Name: Alcedo atthis
Irish Name: Cruidín
Resident in Irish streams, rivers and canals throughout the country. Very distinct bird that is not easily mistaken for other species. Bright coloured plumage with orange underparts and a dark electric blue head and back. Breeds in tunnels dug into riverbanks.
Scientific Name: Rallus aquaticus
Irish Name: Rálóg uisce
Elusive bird found in wetlands all over Ireland. Distinct ‘pig squeal’ call that is often heard before the bird is seen. Small and brown with dark streaks and spots on the back and a long red bill.
Scientific Name: Regulus regulus
Irish Name: Cíorbhuí
Ireland’s smallest bird and also one of our most common birds, found in woodlands, gardens and hedgerows throughout the country. Identified by the very small size and distinct yellow crest on the top of the head.
Scientific Name: Lysimachia vulgaris
Irish Name: Breallán léana
Perennial plant found on riverbanks, lake shores and fens. Yellow flowers bloom from June to August. Historically was used to deter flies from livestock and around houses.
Scientific Name: Gallinago gallinago
Irish Name: Naoscach
Summer visitor to Ireland from western Europe and western Africa and a winter visitor from Iceland, the Faroe Islands and northern Scotland. This elusive wading bird is not often seen but is relatively common in wetlands and lowland lakes.
Large red damselfly
Scientific Name: Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Irish Name: Earr-rua an earraigh
Ireland’s only red damselfly. Seen in flight from April to August, often the first damselfly seen in spring. Common in many aquatic sites but prefers acidic ponds.
Scientific Name: Anas crecca
Irish Name: Praslacha
Small duck with striking green patch on the side of the body under the wing. Males also have a green patch extending from the eye down to the neck. Widespread in wetlands and lakes.
Site 3: Ballyhooly road
Hard shield fern
Scientific Name: Polystichum aculeatum
Irish Name: Ibheag chrua
Evergreen, native perennial fern that occurs on mildly acidic soils. Prefers steep banks in wooded valleys and grikes in limestone pavement typical of this site location.
Scientific Name: Jacobaea vulgaris
Irish Name: Buachalán buí
Also known as ragweed, this native perennial plant is often an unwelcome species as it can be toxic to animals. However, it also produces a yellow flower which is important for many native pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and moths.
Scientific Name: Heracleum sphondylium
Irish Name: Feabhrán
Tall perennial plant found growing in meadows and hedgerows. Blooms with white or pink flowers from June to September. The name Hogweed was given to this plant as it was previously used as food for pigs. Not to be confused with the introduced species the Giant Hogweed, which is much larger.
Scientific Name: Rumex obtusifolius
Irish Name: Copóg shráide
Native perennial dock species flowering from June to October. Very common on road edges, in fields and on abandoned sites. The plant provides nectar and pollen for many pollinating insects found in the Glen Park.
Scientific Name: Phylloscopus trochilus
Irish Name: Ceolaire sailí
Common summer visitor to Ireland from April to September. Very similar appearance to Chiffchaff however the legs are pinker and the underside is paler. One of the most common breeding migrants in Ireland. Strongly associated with patches of willow and the edges of bogs and marshes.
Long tailed tit
Scientific Name: Aegithalus caudatus
Irish Name: Meantán earrfhada
Common resident bird in deciduous woodlands and gardens across Ireland. Very small with a distinctly long tail. Builds very intricate webs using moss and lichen bound together with spider webs. Younger birds will often help adults to raise chicks.
Scientific Name: Inachis io
Irish Name: Péacóg
Very widespread and common butterfly. Predominantly red wings with iridescent blue eyespots. Found in gardens, woodlands and hedgerows and feeds primarily on nettles.