Tourism interests in Killarney, always quick to eye an opportunity, were among the first supporters of the plan to bring back white-tailed sea eagles and, so far, around 100 birds of Norwegian origin have been set free in the wilderness of Killarney National Park.
The eagles have scattered around the country, forming breeding pairs. Three chicks have been born this year, which is seen as a hugely significant breakthrough. Boatmen on Killarney Lakes regularly report seeing mature eagles, the biggest birds of prey with an 8ft wing span, soaring in the skies. Eventually, eagles will become a visitor attraction in their own right.
Wildlife tourism is well established in Scotland where sea eagles have been reintroduced in a project that started on the Isle of Rum.
Of the 100 birds released in Killarney since 2007, 10 pairs have formed and two have, so far, bred. The hope is that the others will also produce young in the next couple of years.
Studies show the eagles’ presence on Mull generates at least £5m a year from visitors for the local economy. Eagles have spread along the east and west coasts of Scotland and the hope is something similar will happen here.
By the way, the Killarney National Park project has hatched its first book, , penned by nature lover Christy Dorgan, from Fermoy, Co Cork.
Written in Irish and English, it tells how a golden eagle, named King Brian, returned to Killarney after 100 years. The story begins in the Donegal hills, where golden eagles are again flying, and traces the journey all the way south in graphic detail.
The book is beautifully illustrated with old drawings and colour figures of birds and stand-out landmarks, including views of Bantry Bay, the Eagle’s Nest and old maps.
Enthusiastic Christy says the book is dedicated to ‘’the most beautiful place on God’s green earth, its people and the creatures that live there.’’