The popular ‘White Tailed Sea Eagle Viewing & Information Point’ situated at Mountshannon Pier in Co. Clare has now reopened to the public, following a hugely successful pilot opening period last summer.
More than 10,000 people flocked to the shores of Lough Derg, latter which borders on counties Tipperary, Clare, and Galway, between mid-July and September last to catch a glimpse of the first successful breeding pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles in Ireland in some 110 years.
The Viewing & Information Point is operated by the Mountshannon Eagle Group, in conjunction with the Golden Eagle Trust and Mountshannon Community Council. This new venue features telescopes, together with required information and displays about the White Tailed Sea Eagle, now regarded as Ireland’s largest and most spectacular of bird life.
This new facility generated more than half a million Euro for the local economy in 2014. A visitor survey conducted last year found that 43% of people said the attraction was the primary factor influencing their decision to visit the shores of Lough Derg.
The eagles, a seven-year-old male and six-year-old female, were originally collected as chicks on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway by the Golden Eagle Trust. The birds were later released in Killarney National Park before deciding to relocate; taking up residence in Lough Derg in 2011. The pair, named Saoirse and Caimin, both created history back in 2013 when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in over 110 years. The pair successfully reared another chick in 2014 and the hope is that another successful hatching will take place this summer.
Visitor figures compare well to the Island of Mull in Scotland where White-tailed Sea Eagle watching has been popular for more than 10 years. It should be noted that a higher percentage of visitors came to Mountshannon (43%) specifically to see the Eagle pair than to the Island of Mull (23%), where eagle tourism brings in an estimated 5 million (sterling) annually.