Derrygill, Co. Galway; Ecological Report


Dr. R. Jeffrey






Derrygill woodland is located approximately two kilometres south east of the village of Woodford in Co. Galway. The survey area lies directly to the south east of Derrycrag Wood Nature Reserve. This, along with the nearby woodlands at Rosturra and Pollnaknockaun comprise some of the last remaining fragments of what was once an extensive area of woodland, known as Woodford Forest.

The area has been extensively planted commercial coniferous forestry and stands of Scots Pine that were planted in the 1940s still remain. Some Sitka Spruce and Norway Spruce blocks of varying ages lie within the surey area. Other blocks have been clear-felled and in many places there is good re-colonisation with native broadleaf species such as Oak and Holly, as well as non-natives such as Beech. Spruce seedlings also occur.

The main aim of the Millennium Forest Project at this site is to plant native species into the clearfell areas.


Coillte own the entire site.


Mr. Michael Fogarty,
Co. Galway
Tel. 0509-49038 / 086-2532295


The bedrock underlying this area is Old Red Sandstone, overlain in places with glacial drift.

The soils are peaty podzols and gleys.


5.1 Scots Pine Plantation
The mature Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) trees are generally well spaced, with thick under-storey/ground cover (see photo 1). Other trees in these stands include Oak (Quercus petraea). Beech (Fagus sylvatica) occurs in some stands. The dominant understorey shrub is Holly (Ilex aquifolium). Other species present include Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum), Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), Woodrush (Luzula sylvatica), Bramble (Rubus fructicosus agg.), Purple Moorgrass (Molinia caerulea), Male Fern (Dryopteris felix-mas), Slender St. John's-wort (Hypericum pulchrum) and Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile). One small patch of Laurel (Prunus laurocerastus) was recorded in one of the Scots Pine stands.
(see note numbers 4, 15, 17, 21, 23, 36)

5.2 Other Coniferous Forestry
Blocks of mature Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Norway Spruce (Picea abies) are present in the site. Ground cover is generally very sparse beneath such plantations. Blocks of young Sitka (1-1.5m tall) also occur. The trees in these blocks are surrounded by dense Bracken

(see note numbers 6, 10, 18, 20, 24, 26, 32, 35)

5.3 Scrub/Woodland
Some of these areas have been clear felled in the past. Mature broadleaf trees, such as Oak and Birch have generally been left in such areas, however some large beech have been felled (see photo 2). In some areas thick brash remains on the ground. Ground cover species include Bilberry, Bramble and Soft Rush (Juncus efffusus) and Purple Moorgrass in wetter areas. Developing scrub includes Oak, Birch, Willow (Salix sp.) and Beech. Mature Oak and Beech occur along some stretches of track.

(see note numbers 3, 7, 8, 14, 37)

5.4 Open Clearfell/Unplanted Areas
The most recently clear-felled areas do not yet have scrub formation and are often covered in thick brash (see photo 3). Dominant species include Purple Moorgrass, Bracken and Bramble. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) also often present. Ling (Calluna vulgaris) and Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix) occur in the more peaty areas. Damper spots support species such as Soft Rush, Water Mint (Mentha aquatica), Lesser Spearwort (Ranunculus flammula), Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) and Common Marsh-bedstraw (Galium palustre). Tree seedlings, particularly Birch are often numerous in these areas.

(see note numbers 11, 12, 13, 28, 30, 31,33)

5.5 Wet Woodland
There is a small area of rather wet woodland near the track which bounds the eastern part of the site. The main tree species are Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Ash (Fraxinus exelsior) and Hazel (Corylus avellana). Beech (Fagus sylvatica) also occur. Ground cover species include Woodrush (Luzula sylvatica), Wood Sedge (Carex sylvatica), Wood Horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum), Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella) and Male Fern.

(see note number 19)

5.6 Stream
A stream/ditch with an embankment on the northern side forms the northern boundary of the site. Ash, Birch and Willow grow along the bank. Wet areas adjacent to the stream include species such as Water Mint and Tormentil.

(see note number 25)

5.7 Track
The tracks shown on the map are for the most part driveable.


6.1 Birds
A flock of Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus) were seen during fieldwork. Blackbird (Turdus merula), Robin (Erithacus rubecula) and Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) were also recorded.

6.2 Mammals
A Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) was seen during fieldwork. Fox (Vulpes vulpes) scats are widespread throughout the area.


7.1 Forestry
The survey area encompasses Sitka and Norway Spruce plantations ranging in age from a few years to maturity. Management is on-going in these blocks.

7.2 Non-native species
The site contains mature Beech and Sycamore as well as coniferous plantations. Natural regeneration of both broadleaf and conifer species is widespread in this site.

7.3 Recreation
The area is used for horse-riding, and pony-trekkers regularly pass through the site, using the main tracks.

There are two hunting platforms in the site.

7.4 Grazing
Deer use the site and a loose pony was also seen during survey work.

7.5 Dumping
There is a small amount of dumping in the site.


8.1 Removal of non-native species
The site contains mature Beech and Sycamore as well as coniferous plantations. Consideration should be given to the removal of some or all of the non-native species within and around the target area for planting. All non-native seedlings should be removed.

All Laurel should be eradicated from the site.

8.2 Natural Regeneration
Areas where native species are regenerating should not be disturbed, however, non-native seedlings particularly conifers should be removed from such places.

8.3 Planting
Planting areas should be selected where natural regeneration is not occurring. Suitable species include Oak, Birch and Willow, preferably of local provenance.

8.4 Grazing
As Deer and ponies have access to the site, fencing will be necessary around the planting areas.

8.5 Recreational Use
There is potential for conflict between horse riders and walkers once the site is opened up to the public. If possible, an agreement should be made with the riders as to which trails they can use.

Signage explaining on-going activities and the overall project aims would be useful for informing the public.


Brief notes to accompany Map 2

1. Corner by proposed carpark. Felled Fagus. Mature Quercus have been left. Much brash. Regeneration from stumps and seedlings of Fagus. Ilex regeneration also. Rubus, Vaccinium, Dryopteris, Polypodium, Digitalis, Lonicera. Small amount of Quercus regeneration.
2. Trees along track edge Salix, Betula, Fagus, Quercus, Fraxinus, Pinus sylvatica
3. Moving upslope- tall Pteridium and Vaccinium. Also Calluna. Spread out Betula and Quercus. Ilex also. Old clearfell
4. Pinus sylvestris starts on steepest part of slope. Quercus and Salix on edge of track. Ilex Pines. Understorey dominated with Pteridium. Vaccinium myrtillus Luzula sylvatica, Rubus, Molinia and Dryopteris also
5. Patches of Laurel.
6. Belt of Spruce at top of slope, very little undergrowth. Occasionally patches of Pteridium.
7. Belt below Pinus sylvestris- young Quercus, with Ilex. Pteridium and Vaccinium myrtillus dominated understorey, with Luzula, Calluna , Juncus, Rubus, similar to N1. Fagus and Spruce seedlings.
8 Open area dominated by thick Rubus and Pteridium. Quercus, Betula, Salix, Fagus scrub developing. Wetter area with Juncus and Festuca.
9. Section of track does not exist (wet area where track ends)
10. Mature Spruce
11. Clearfell, Molinia and Pteridium dominated, some small Calluna, Ulex, E. tetralix.
12. Clearfell, but line of conifer left in along track. Molinia dominated.
13. Clearfell between track and Spruce block (windblow at edge). Much brash. Betula regeneration. Wet areas with Juncus , Mentha aquatica, Ranunculus flammula. Salix regeneration also. Dryopteris, Holcus, Festuce, Cirsium, Calluna, Digitalis.
14. Regenerating scrub on both sides of track- Betula, Salix dominated on west side. East side mainly Quercus. Quite widespread, v. dense Pteridium, Molinia .
15. Widely spaced Pinus sylvatica.
16. Immature Pinus sylvatica plantation
17. Pinus sylvatica with young Quercus, Ilex, Fagus. Good regeneration. Thick Pteridium, also Vaccinium myrtillus, Luzula sylvatica, Hypericum pulchrum, Galium saxatile.
18. Narrow band of mature Spruce, very little undergrowth. Recent clearance along edge- for fence?
19. Corylus, Fraxinus, Fagus, Ilex. Quite wet with Alnus. Luzula sylvatica, Carex sylvaticum, Equisetum sylvaticum, Dryopteris, Oxalis. Immature Sitka.
20. Sitka Spruce plantation. Quite young, also Quercus, Betula, Ilex, Fagus
21. Mature Pinus sylvatica
22. Large Fagus and Quercus along track. Rubus and Pteridium dominated undergrowth.
23. Mature Pinus sylvatica with younger Fagus, Quercus, Ilex, well spaced out. Dense Pteridium, some Vaccinium. Similar to N17.
24. Ride between 2 blocks of Sitka, west side older than east. Little undergrowth, some Blechnum.
25. Stream with embankment on far side. Fraxinus, Betula. Salix along stream. Wet areas include Mentha aquatica, Potentilla erecta etc. Path blocked from here going eastwards. Some dumping of rubble etc. Red Squirrel.
26. Sitka block.
27. Ride between narrow Sitka plantations, v. wet. Molinia dominated. No undergrowth beneath trees. Some Lodgepole along edges.
28. Circular area of open ground- surrounded by mature Spruce. Molinia dominated, also Calluna, Pteridium, Juncus, E. tetralix. Many Betula seedlings, Spruce seedlings also. Areas of thick brash. Occasional mature Sorbus and Betula.
29. Shooting platform
30. Pteridium dominated clearfell, patches of Molinia, Festuca. Betula and Ilex regenertion. Occasional mature Betula and Fraxinus.
31. Wet hollow. Phragmites australis in wettest part (west corner beside track). Thick Rubus along track. Salix, Betula.
32. Young Spruce (1-1.5m) almost hidden by Pteridium.
33. Area above mature Spruce block. Quite wet, Juncus, Festuca, Galium, Holcus, Rubus. Regenerating Betula,. Surrounded by Pteridium dominated, like N30. Some bare patches with brash only.
34. Area of clearfell, Juncus dominated, also Pteridium, Rubus, Digitalis, Ulex. Betula at northern edge.
35. Mature Norway, with recently planted to the west (in this or next compartment?)
36. Widely spaced Pinus sylvatica, with Fagus and Corylus. Thick Pteridium, with some more open patches. Meets N23, Betula but no Quercus.
37. Fagus, Corylus, occasional Quercus regenerating. Salix, Betula, Acer pseudoplatanus. Generally dense undergrowth- Pteridium, Rubus dominated. Also Juncus, Vaccinium etc.


Trees & Shrubs:
Acer pseudoplatanus Sycamore
Alnus glutinosa Alder
Betula pubescens Birch
Calluna vulgaris Ling
Corylus avellana Hazel
Fagus sylvatica Beech
Ilex aquifolium Holly
Lonicera periclymenum Honeysuckle
Picea sitchensis Sitka Spruce
Pinus contorta Ldgepole Pine
Pinus sylvestris. Scots Pine
Prunus laurocerasus Cherry-laurel
Quercus petraea Sessile Oak
Rubus fructicosus agg. Bramble
Salix caprea Goat Willow
Sorbus aucuparia Rowan
Ulex europaeus Gorse
Vaccinium myrtillus Bilberry

Cirsium vulgare Spear Thistle
Cirsium arvense Creeping Thistle
Digitalis purpurea Foxglove
Galium saxatile Heath Bedstraw
Galium palustre Common Marsh Bedstraw
Hieracium sp. Hawkweed
Hypericum pulchrum Slender St. Johns Wort
Mentha aquatica Water Mint
Oxalis acetosella Wood Sorrel
Potentilla erecta Tormentil
Ranunculus flammula Lesser Spearwort
Trifolium repens White Clover
Lathyrus pratensis Meadow Vetchling

Grasses & Rushes
Agrostis sp. Bent
Dactylis glomerata Cocks-foot
Festuca rubra Red Fescue
Holcus lanatus Yorkshire Fog
Molinia caerulea Purple Moor-grass
Juncus squarrosus Soft Rush
Juncus articulatus Jointed Rush
Carex sylvaticum Wood Sedge
Luzula sylvatica Woodrush

Ferns & Horsetails:
Athyrium felix-femina Lady Fern
Blechnum spicant Hard Fern
Polypodium vulgare Common Polypody
Pteridium aquilinum Bracken
Equisetum sylvaticum Wood Horsetail


Photo 1. Scots Pine plantation, with young Birch and Oak. The ground cover is dense Bracken.

Photo 2. An area where Beech have been felled, with regenerating scrub.

Photo 3. Clearfell area with much brash remaining. The dominant cover is Bracken.

Map 1 Habitat Map

The Millennium Forests: Derrygill

Scale: 1:10560


Scots Pine Plantation
Wet Scrub/Woodland
Coniferous Forestry


Map 2 Survey Notes

The Millennium Forests: Derrygill

Scale: 1:10560


Survey Notes

*Please note that it was not possible to reproduce figures for inclusion on the website version of the reports.