You can still see traces of the people who farmed the ground below the Waterfall over 160 years ago. This farming community lived here before the Great Famine. Look out for their cultivation ridges where they grew crops, most likely potatoes, which was the stable crop at this time. Their houses, built of mud walls and thatch, have long since disappeared but traces of their church remain, a kilometre downstream.
Keep your eyes peeled in the trees around the car park and waterfall for the beautiful but elusive red squirrel. Most active in the morning and late afternoon, these tree-dwellers use their large bushy tail to help them balance as they leap about in the canopy. While they like to scavenge leftovers from picnic sites, their normal diet consists of acorns, nuts, seeds, fruits, bark and fungi.
This shy nocturnal animal lives in a large underground labyrinth of tunnels and rooms called a ‘sett’. Badgers are extremely ‘house-proud’, and will spend hours cleaning and renovating their home, which can be hundreds of years old and contain up to fifteen family members.
Seldom seen, the secretive otter is a resident of the banks of the River Dargle. Its webbed feet, thick dense coat and streamlined body make it at home in the water, where it preys on salmon, trout and even the occasional frog. Keep an eye out for its droppings (‘spraints’), which are often the only sign of its presence.
Rabbits are rarely seen grazing farther than a few hundred metres from the large burrows (‘warrens’) they call home. If you happen to see one, be still! With a thump of a hind foot and a rapid dash for the door, the entire colony will disappear at the first sign of trouble. Underground there can be many families living together, and a strict pecking order keeps the peace.
Did you know?
Rabbits were introduced to Ireland by the Normans during the 12th century and were bred for their fur and meat.
One of Ireland’s favourite animals, the hedgehog is more than meets the eye. Its characteristic squat, spiny body hides a surprisingly athletic ability. Hedgehogs are able to swim, run up to 8km/hr and even climb walls and fences!
Did you know?
Hedgehogs hibernate in winter, often choosing piles of leaves and logs left at the bottoms of gardens as a nesting site. Take care not to disturb these areas from the end of November to April!