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The Wonderful World of Murlough and It's Wildlife.

Updated on June 13, 2013

The Mourne Mountains

Wild and dangerous.
Wild and dangerous. | Source

A Place to visit.

The mountains sweep down to meet the sea, in such a majestic way that one can be forgiven for believing they call our name. Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, and its neighbour Slieve Commedagh, nestle commandingly over the sea from Newcastle, County Down. They stand just like two God’s watching over the mere mortals living below them, in the beauty and serenity that their shadows afford. Lost in low lying mist, caressing the shore line, is Ireland’s first Nature Reserve, Murlough.

Murlough National Nature Reserve, is a 6000 year old network of fragile sand and wet land dune systems, owned and managed by the National Trust, since 1967. Its spectacular location, at the edge of Dundrum Bay, makes it an ideal walking destination for anyone who shares an interest in our heritage, and wildlife. Depending on the season, this vast acreage of board walks and carefully connected pathways, lends the imagination to many fantasies surrounding the area. The frequent frets, flowing silently through the trees and across the dunes, can whisper of the pirates and smugglers, who in days gone by, hauled their wears from all over the County Down coastline. The marsh land surrounding the area is similar to Jane Eyre country, in Yorkshire, and again, many damsel s have been saved from the inclement weather that at times, the area is subject too.

Murlough, commands the position of the best and most extensive example of dune heath within Ireland. The woodland area is home to the Herons, who nest in the tall pine trees sitting at the edge of the bay. When walking, you can hear their warble from miles away, and as you approach the thicket of trees, you can hear the whoosh of their wings as they land on their nests, feeding young birds looking eagerly for sustenance.

The heath plays host to twenty two different species of butterflies, one in particular, the Marsh Fritillary, is of great European importance. It is a fond favourite of the photographers in the summer months, because it is rarely sighted elsewhere.

From the shore, it is not unusual to watch the grey seal and her pups, play lovingly in the shallow waters just off shore. This is a pastime which enthrals children swimming in the bay during the summer months, when the sea temperature rises a little. Throughout the reserve, are located many stunning path ways, leading to one of the nicest and best kept beaches in County Down. This is an ideal location for a picnic or bar-b-que, followed by camp fire cook outs in the evening. The sea air always stimulates a good appetite, and there are ample sites approaching the beach specifically for the lighting of a bar-b-que.

In the evening, and early morning, you are treated by a crescendo of coloured lights from the sun’s rays, dancing across the water. It is a combination of beautiful stunning skies, with colours from red to purple in the evening, and silver to lemon in the early morning. Camping is available, and there is a hostel on sight, for those people who wish to stay a little longer than the annual procession of day trippers.

There has been evidence of human habitation in the area from Neolithic times, through the Bronze Age, to the present day. These finds can be viewed in the Down Museum some 12 miles away. However, today the heaths are home to wild horses grazing the common land, rabbits and hares as well as wintering wild fowl and waders, from all over the world.

Whatever time of year you decide to visit, the landscape and spectacular coastal views, will never cease to amaze and bring sheer delight to its visitors and residents alike. As for me, I am still looking for my “Heathcliffe” between the grassland and dunes, or maybe, a red blooded pirate to sail me away into the sunset and beyond.

Good Morning

Could this be Africa?
Could this be Africa? | Source

Morning mist

Morning frets from the sea
Morning frets from the sea | Source

The shore line

eerily beautiful
eerily beautiful | Source

Another early morning view

Stunning sky line early morning
Stunning sky line early morning | Source

Dundrum, the closest town

Hidden beauty nestled on the shore
Hidden beauty nestled on the shore | Source


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    • mckbirdbks profile image


      6 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      What beautiful photographs of this enchanted land.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello Annette, it looks so beautiful - I must visit!

      We visited Ireland a couple of years back and would love to come again.

      Thank you for this treat and voted up.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • Eiddwen profile image


      6 years ago from Wales

      Oh Annette what a truly beautiful hub and I have to vote up. I love anything to do with nature,countryside/animals etc and this one was a rare treat.

      Take care my friend and have a great day.


    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      6 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      What a slice of heaven, especially about now. Thank you for this visual vacation, my dear Sista! So good to see you back!

      Voted UP & Awesome and Beautiful.

      Have a peaceful day and TTYS. Love, Maria

    • tinaweha profile image

      Tina Boomerina 

      6 years ago from Seattle (and the world)

      Ireland is definitely on my list.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Annette, your photo's and information are amazing. I love them and they are encouraging a trip over the ocean. Voted up and beautiful, Joyce

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Ruby, I love your new avatar. Thank you for your lovely comment. I hope that you find time to visit Ireland one of these day's, the welcome is always warm. :)

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Mardi, welcome to my little space in Hub Land. Thank you so much for reading my hub, Ireland is beautiful and well worth the visit, any time of year. Net:)

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Cardissa, thank you for your lovely comment my friend. How are you keeping, I am only just getting back to writing and reviewing, but you are never far from my thoughts. :) xx

    • thebluestar profile imageAUTHOR

      Annette Donaldson 

      6 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Hi Sunnie, Murlough is a place that I never get tired of. I walk the dog every day and always find something more magical than the day before. Ireland awaits your beautiful smile my friend, and you are always welcome.



    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      6 years ago from Southern Illinois

      This is another part of the world that i would love to visit. Your photos are beautiful. Thank you Anette....

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 

      6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      I would love to get to Ireland one day. Your photographs are beautiful and I now have another destination to look into if I ever get over that way. Thanks for this interesting hub.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      Annette, what beautiful place and wonderfully written hub. Beautiful.

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Hello and Good Morning Net,

      What a lovely hub about your part of the country. This is one place I have always wanted to visit and still hope to one day. Such beautiful descriptions that paint even more beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for all the interesting and useful information as well..

      Take care,



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