A new nature reserve will be established in Co. Mayo, on 17th century Enniscoe Estate, commencing a joint-management partnership between the estate owners, the Kellet Family, and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to provide for the conservation, education and enhancement of the estate.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, made the announcement this morning.

Enniscoe Estate borders Lough Conn, which is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive, where Atlantic salmon, freshwater pearl mussel, otter and white-clawed crayfish are the qualifying interest for a potential nature-reserve designation.

It’s also designated a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Birds Directive, where breeding common scoter, common gulls and overwintering white-fronted geese are present.

Nature reserve for a reason

In addition, Lough Conn is a legally protected wildfowl sanctuary under the Wildlife Acts, and the rare Irish red squirrel was recorded in the woodlands there in 2019.

Fourteen generations of the Kellet family have lived on the estate and Minister Noonan acknowledged the family’s commitment to managing the lands there for nature, heritage and the community.

Commenting, he said:

“The efforts they have made to protect the cultural integrity of the buildings, the work done to develop a sustainable rural enterprise, and the ongoing initiatives to protect and enhance biodiversity on the site are all to be commended.

“I thank the Kellet family for their foresight in collaborating with the NPWS at Enniscoe. These partnerships will deliver benefits to communities, nature and our built and cultural heritage.”

Susan Kellet, whose family has owned and managed Enniscoe House since the 17th century, commented:

“I am delighted to have entered into this partnership. It seems an excellent match between the work of NPWS and my own ambitions to preserve and enhance this unique corner of Mayo.

“While the estate is now only a fraction of its original size, the essential core remains.”

New looped walk launched at Wild Nephin

Minister Noonan’s visit to Co. Mayo also included a tour of Ireland’s third-largest national park, Wild Nephin, where he launched a new looped walk, which was funded under Rural Regeneration Development Fund.