Wildlife Habitats & Best Places for Wildlife

There is a huge diversity of habitats in and around Ennis town. We encourage you to discover some of our main habitats listed below:

The River Fergus flows through Ennis Town forming a focal point and providing an important habitat for wildlife such as Otters, Salmon and Heron. There are two tributaries of the Fergus in the town, the Claureen and the Gauras. 
Rushes often dominate wet grassland, which generally occurs where there is poor drainage or close to waterbodies. These rushy fields often have an abundance of wildflowers such as Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife, Cuckoo Flower and Common Spotted Orchid.
True meadows that are rarely grazed or fertilised and mown just once or twice a year are now rare in Ireland. This habitat mainly occurs now along road verges, old graveyards or neglected fields. Meadow grassland can have an abundance of wildflowers including Knapweed, Cow Parsley and Meadow Vetching.
There are pockets of exposed limestone rock and limestone pavement around Ennis including along the Rocky Road. This habitat often occurs in association with other habitats of high nature conservation value including calcareous grassland, Hazel scrub and fens. Limestone pavement usually has a s parse flora but typical plants include small ferns (Brittle Bladder Fern, Rusty-back Fern and Wall Rue Fern), Ivy and Wood Sage
There are a few small areas of native woodland around Ennis, in Ballybeg and the woodland in Lee Road Amenity Park. It usually occurs in association with mixed broadleaved and conifer woodland. There is a large area of native oak-ash-hazel woodland in Dromore Nature Reserve, north of the town. 
Scrub is a common habitat in quiet corners on farmland, along the River Fergus and its tributaries and on limestone pavement. Scrub is an important habitat for many birds as it provides excellent cover. 
Beech and Ash woodland occurs in Ballybeg Woods
Dry stones walls can provide important habitat for insects and lizards. Limestone stone walls are a feature of much of the countryside in Clare
Turloughs are present in the wider landscape around Ennis. They are ephemeral lakes that occur in depressions or basins in areas with karst limestone. They tend to be water-filled in winter and dry in summer. Turloughs are more or less unique to Ireland
There are a few lakes in the wider landscape around Ennis including Ballyalla and Lough Girroga. Ballyalla Lake is an excellent spot for birdwatching due to the high numbers of waterbirds that utilise the lake.
Stands of Common Reed, Sweet Reed Grass and/or Common Club-Rush occur along river and lake edges. These areas provide cover for waterbirds.
Fens are a type of peatland that are fed by lime-rich groundwater or surface waters. They tend to be dominated by a variety of rushes and sedges including Black Bog Rush, the grass, Purple Moor Grass, and variety of wildflowers including Water Mint, Water Pennywort and Devil’s Bit Scabious.
Wet woodland, generally dominated by Willow species, occurs in pockets along the River Fergus and its tributaries, and in other areas with damp ground.
Hedgerows are a common feature along field boundaries throughout County Clare.
Lines of trees often occur along field boundaries, property boundaries and roads
Common Reed (Phragmites australis) flowering, France, late summer

Post Office Field
There are many places in and around Ennis that form a habitat for wildlife including wetlands woodlands, grassland, rivers and lakes. Here is a list of just a few of them that we encourage you to discover.

The Post Office Field is a wonderful natural asset located adjacent to the historic town of Ennis in a broad meander of the River Fergus. The low-lying ground, extending to around 1.6ha, is a natural floodplain for the River, providing natural flood control capacity for the town. The field contains a mosaic of wetland habitats including wet grassland, willow scrub and tall herb swamp. Many wildflowers can be seen in the field during the summer months including Meadowsweet, Purple Loosestrife and Yellow Flag along with rushes and meadows grasses.

Tim Smyth Park/The Fairgreen

Tim Smyth Park in the Fairgreen is a popular amenity with playing pitches, running track and a playground. Surrounded by trees and scrub, this is a great green space in the town to escape for a while and relax.

NIS_11251248Ballyalla Lake

Ballyalla Lake is a population recreation amenity with picnic tables and a swimming area. A 6km Slí na Sláinte route starts in the car park. Ballyalla Lake is a relatively small, shallow lake situated on the River Fergus approximately 4 km north of Ennis. It is a naturally eutrophic lake, a habitat listed on Annex I of the EC Habitats Directive1 reflecting its importance in a European context. The site contains a mosaic of woodlands, wetlands, waterbodies and limestone pavement, which adds to the diversity of the site. Wetlands are key to maintaining water quality as well as supporting wildlife. Ballyalla Lake is also a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the EC Birds Direc
tive2. The lake and the floodplain to the west hold nationally important numbers of Shoveler, Wigeon, Coot, Mallard and Gadwall. Significant numbers of Whooper Swan also uses the site. Other regular wintering species include Teal, Lapwing, Tufted Duck, Pintail and Little Grebe. Ballyalla Lough is also a Ramsar Convention3 site and a Wildfowl Sanctuary4. An attractive interpretive panel highlights many of the birds that can be seen at the lake. For a relatively small lake, Ballyalla supports huge numbers of water birds and is therefore extremely valuable for wildlife. It is a great spot for birdwatching. The Clare branch of BirdWatch Ireland run birdwatching outings at the lake most years.

 Rocky Road

The Rocky Road is an ancient pilgrim path that runs from Ennis through Cahircalla Beg to a holy well at Killone Abbey on the shore of Killone Lake (St. John’s Well). The path travels through a limestone landscape with Hazel scrub, native woodand, limestone pavement, calcareous grassland and lake shore. The flora and fauna of much of this area is reminiscent of the Burren. The Rocky Road is a popular walking and running route. The final section of the route to Killone is overgrown but the road can be enjoyed along with the paths in Ballybeg Wood.

Drumcliff Old Graveyard

As a place of burial, Drumcliff has a long history, dating back to the early monastic settlement established there some time before the tenth century, and whose remains still dominate the elevated part of the graveyard site. Old graveyards such as Drumcliff can be havens for wildlife as well as places of remembrance and quiet reflection for the local community.

NIS_11312761River Fergus

The River Shannon and Fergus estuaries form the largest estuarine complex in Ireland and support more wintering wildfowl and waders than any other site in the country. Most of the estuarine part of these rivers has been designated a Special Protection Area (Shannon and Fergus Estuaries SPA) based on the important populations of overwintering birds that utilise these areas. The River Fergus is also part of the Lower Shannon SAC, which contains many important wetland and aquatic habitats and species. The Fergus brings nature and wildlife into the town centre. Much of the river edge is fringed with wetlands, which provide food and cover for numerous birds, Otters and fish. There are two significant tributaries of the Fergus in the town, which also have a value for wildlife, the Claureen and the Gauras.

Ballybeg Woods

There is a large area of woodland just south of Ennis, some of which is known locally as Ballybeg Wood. Ballybeg has been developed as a natural amenity under the Neighbourwood Scheme and there is a network of walking trails to enjoy. The majority of the site is mixed broadleaved woodland
with Ash and Beech in the canopy, and Hazel in the understorey. A lucky walker might hear a Long-eared Owl while strolling through the wood or spot a Red
Squirrel. Ballybeg Wood and the nearby woodland and caves at Newhall and Edenvale are considered to be one of the best sites for the Lesser Horseshoe Bat in Europe. These bats are very rare in a European context and are protected under Irish and EC law.

Lees Road Sports Amenity Park

The Lees Road Sports and Amenity Park is a large sports and recreation amenity with playing pitches, a skateboard park and running tracks. The facility is surrounded by a large area of woodland, much of which is broadleaved with some native stands of Ash, Hazel and Oak. Moss covered limestone boulders are strewn across the woodland floor. Trails weave through the woodland and providing a great resource for walkers and an opportunity to enjoy nature.