Muckross - Location of the Millennium Forests
The Muckross peninsula forms part of the Killarney National Park, which is managed by Dúchas, the Heritage Service. Please see directions/map below.
The park contains the largest area of native woodland in Ireland and is dominated by native oak woodland but a large part of the Muckross peninsula - especially the area known as Reenadinna Wood - is very special in that it is dominated by one of Ireland's scarcest native trees, the yew.
Such woodlands are very rare not only in Ireland but also in Europe generally. It is therefore of particular importance in terms of ecology and conservation and is designated as a 'Special Area of Conservation' (SAC) and a 'Natural Heritage Area' (NHA).
Muckross, means 'the wood of the pig', which almost certainly refers to the use of the wood in ancient times as 'pasture for pigs'. Branches were cut from broadleaf trees and the pigs fed on the leaves and twigs derived from the lopped material.
The pigs also fed on numerous other items, including acorns, hazelnuts, fungi, roots, grubs and earthworms. Also, an old copper mine is located close by which was in operation from about 2000BC on and off right up to the 18th century. Locally-derived timber would almost certainly have been turned into charcoal for smelting the copper.
The peninsula is home to a host of native trees, shrubs, plants, mosses and lichens. These include hazel, oak, willow, birch, ash, aspen and the rare strawberry tree, which is thought to have originally come from the Iberian peninsula - Portugal is located there -after the end of the last Age some 13,000 years ago.
The Killarney woodlands are home to the last remaining native herd of red deer. The yew wood is thought to be particularly rich in birdlife, including blackcap and wood warbler. The principal threat to the wood is grazing by sika deer and hence, a deer fence will be erected to ensure young trees are not browsed and bark stripping is reduced.
View Muckross in a larger map
Please see refreshed and upgraded signage installed on all the Millennium sites during 2011.
(This new signage was funded by AIB)