Restoring Lowland Bog and Establishing Native Woodland at Muckanagh, Lough Cullen (Loch Cuillinn), Co. Mayo

In Gaelic mythology, Lough Cullin was created by our celebrated national hero Fionn mac Cumhaill when hunting a magic Boar with his hounds, Conn and Cullin. The Boar’s magic meant that whenever it took a step, pools of water would form behind it to slow its pursuers.

Over the course of the hunt, each hound, in turn, broke away from Fionn in pursuit of the Boar, and each time the Boar began to run in circles so that the pools of water merged together. The dogs got too far away from Fionn in a hunt that went on for days. The Boar drowned the poor hounds in the lakes, which were later named in their honour.

Our Lough Cullin Project

This project is located on the southern shores of Lough Cullin (Loch Cuillin) which with the adjoining lake to the north Lough Conn is connected to the Atlantic by the River Moy, famous for its salmon and trout fishing while Loughs Conn and Cullin are two of Ireland’s best lake trout fisheries. The site is a mixture of relatively intact lowland blanket bog, significant areas of bog degraded by turf cutting, an alkaline fen, naturally regenerated scrub and fields.

Fast Facts

Location: Muckanagh, Co. Mayo

Size/Acres: 89 acres

Key Species: Common Scoter (Red List), Curlew (Red List), Golden Plover (Red List), Lapwing (Red List), Meadow Pipit (Red List), Skylark (Amber List), Whooper Swan (Amber List), Irish Hare, Otter, Frog

Habitat: Lowland blanket bog – intact (6.54 hectares), degraded (23.7 hectares), alkaline fen (0.5 hectares), native scrub on lake shore (3.5 hectares)

Threats: Drainage and turf-cutting

Action: Purchase, habitat creation and restoration

Local Partner: We aim to partner with local communities as soon as possible to facilitate the creation of a local resource for recreation, environmental education and ecotourism.

Price per Tonne: (not yet set)

Metric Tons Carbon Captured: 1200 tonnes

Metric Tonnes Carbon Avoided: 700

Metric Tonnes Carbon Storage: 150,000+

Today Lough Conn and Lough Cullin are a Special Area of Conservation (Site Code 004228) for the rare birds and winter wildfowl that they host and Lough Cullin also form part of the River Moy Special Area of Conservation (Site Code 002298).

Rare birds that call the Lough home include the iconic Greenland White-fronted Goose and a nationally important breeding population of the not-so-common Common Gull, as well as one of only four Irish breeding populations of Common Scoter. Other protected species potentially present include Curlew, Golden Plover, Lapwing and Whooper Swan as well as a host of other wildfowl and wetland birds.

Biodiversity monitoring methods will be used to meet conservation targets. With respect to objectives for the River Moy SAC and the SPA the project will directly contribute to the aims:

  • to re-establish the peat-forming capability for degraded (raised) bogs still capable of natural regeneration,
  • to re-establish depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion,
  • to maintain the favourable conservation condition of Alkaline fens,
  • to maintain the favourable conservation condition of Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles (by increasing the area by several hectares),
  • to maintain or restore the favourable conservation condition of the wetland habitat at Lough Conn and Lough Cullin SPA as a resource for the regularly-occurring migratory waterbirds that utilise it.

The project will also indirectly contribute to maintaining the water quality of the Derryvulcaugh River (Waterbody Code: IE_WE_34_3412) which forms part of the western boundary of the site and the TawnaghBeg (Waterbody Code: IE_WE_34_1935) which forms part of the eastern boundary and the Conn (IE_WE_34_3741) into which both of these rivers flow. All of these form part of the River Moy SAC and are currently in ‘Good’ condition (Q4 water quality status) and ‘Not at Risk/Probably Not at Risk’ so have a ‘Protect’ objective. This will in turn contribute to other conservation objectives for the Moy, namely:

  • To maintain the favourable conservation condition of White-clawed Crayfish,
  • To maintain the favourable conservation condition of Brook Lamprey,
  • To maintain the favourable conservation condition of Salmon,
  • To maintain the favourable conservation condition of Otter.

Rare birds that can be observed on Lough Cullin include the iconic Greenland White-fronted Goose, a nationally important population of Tufted Duck and nationally important breeding population of the not-so-common common Gull as well as one of only four Irish breeding populations of Common Scoter. The lakes attract other species in lesser numbers including Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Pochard, Coot, Golden Plover, Goldeneye, Lapwing, Cormorant, Curlew and Great Crested Grebe as well as a large breeding population of Black-headed Gull. Two of these, the Whooper Swan and Golden Plover are protected species (Annex I) under the EU Birds Directive.

The River Moy SAC hosts a number of species of European conservation importance (Annex II species) including Otter (Lutra lutra), Salmon (Salmo salar), White-clawed Crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes) and Brook Lamprey (Lampetra planeri). We hope that our project will also contribute to the conservation objectives of the SPA ‘to maintain or restore the favourable conservation condition of the wetland habitat at Lough Conn and Lough Cullin SPA as a resource for the regularly-occurring migratory waterbirds that utilise it’.