Lough Boora Discovery Park and the Clara Bog Nature Reserve are 'hidden treasures' according to the Irish Times' 20 Hidden Treasures from around Ireland list, released over the weekend.
Lough Boora was named for offering 5,000 acres of "otherworldly moorland that includes a sculpture park of 26 installations created using old locomotives, rail tracks, sleepers and stone." The writer also pinted to its Fairy Avenue, which is home to 14 fairies, and bike hire, helping visitors explore the 22km of off-road, tarmacked, cycle trails through this dramatic post-industrial landscape of cutaway bogs that is now a wildlife reserve for 130 species of birds, including the rare grey partridge. A visitors centre café is open weekends. More information can be found on www.loughboora.com.
Clara Bog Nature Reserve also made it onto the list and the Irish Times described it as "the best remaining example of midland raised bog in western Europe." The boardwalk at the Nature Reserve "meanders through 10,000 years of history, over the concealed dangers of deep pools and quaking surfaces," the writer said.
It was preserved after impassioned pleading by the likes of botanist David Bellamy in the 1980s, and in 2011, Brian Cowen opened the visitors’ centre there as his last official engagement as Taoiseach. "The skylarks, hares, heathers and rare mosses are a treat to behold, just don’t stray too far from the boardwalk," the piece concluded. More information can be found at www.npws.ie/nature-reserves/offaly.
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