Portlick - Location of the Millennium Forests
Portlick woodland is situated on the eastern shore of Lough Ree, approximately five kilometres northwest of the village of Glassan and eight kilometres north of Athlone. Please see directions/map below.
There are a number of similar, important woodlands around the shores of Lough Ree. Portlick is part of the proposed Lough Ree Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and is also a proposed Natural Heritage Area (NHA). It is owned by Westmeath County Council and is being managed by Coillte as part of the People's Millennium Forests project.
Portlick, meaning, "part of the flagstone surface" refers to the limestone bedrock that occurs extensively in the region. Portlick is a native hazel/ash woodland with lesser amounts of oak, whitebeam, holly, alder, willow, birch and hawthorn. The forest floor is home to woodrush, bluebell, primrose, wood sorrel, violet, ivy, lords and ladies and bramble.
It is interesting that the first Ordnance Survey maps (1837-38) do not indicate forest here, which implies that woodland spread to the area from other nearby woodlands over a relatively short period - since 1900 - resulting today in a diverse array of trees, shrubs and ground cover. The previous owners, the Smyths - who resided here from the early 1700s - planted some areas with exotics, no doubt. The Dillons had occupied the estate for several centuries previously and built the medieval tower house, Portlick Castle, which is still occupied today. There are a number of other notable houses in the vicinity of the forest, including Whinning House, the ruins of which are within the forest site. Management operations include the planting of ash, birch, and oak. Non-native exotics include beech, sycamore, Sitka spruce, Japanese larch and Douglas fir. The conifers have reached maturity and have been harvested recently.
Beech and sycamore pose a threat to the wood in that they will, over time, out-compete and smother the native vegetation cover and therefore must be controlled. This will be done by continually removing the young seedlings of beech and sycamore as they appear. Hazel 'coppicing' will also be carried out. Coppicing is an ancient woodland management technique where trees and shrubs are allowed to grow to a certain height before being cut back to ground level and allowed to re-sprout from the stump. These are subsequently allowed to grow and are cut again and the cycle continued. Useful products such as charcoal, clogs, fencing material and barrels were all made from coppice.
View Portlick 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)