May 13, 2019
Harper’s Island lies in the north channel of Cork Harbour close to the village of Glounthane. It forms part of the Great Island Channel Special Area of Conservation as well as part of the Cork Harbour Special Protection Area.  It is one of the most important areas of Cork Harbour for wetland birds, supporting internationally important numbers of some species that use wetland habitat on and surrounding the island.  

The island is in the ownership of Cork County Council, and in recent years a Wetland Centre was developed there.  This has been co-ordinated through a Steering Group comprising representatives from Glounthane Tidy Towns, Glounthane Men’s Shed and Glounthane Community Association, Cork County Council, BirdWatch Ireland (Cork). The group has been actively involved in developing and encouraging visitor access to the island, developing paths, providing a substantial bird viewing hide, and installing interpretive signage in the past three years.  The group has also completed works to enhance the quality and extent of wetland habitat on the island, and is advancing further wetland development work in 2018.

The vision for Harper’s Island is ‘to develop a wetland education centre on Harper’s Island, protecting the birds for which the island is internationally important, enhancing the existing wetland habitats for them and providing a significant amenity enhancement to the harbour area, enabling people to visit, enjo and learn about birds and other wildlife of the island’.

Potential of unused tract of land (26ha) in Cork Harbour owned by Cork Co. Council recognised and realised. Project is community initiated and led by Glounthaune Community Association, Glounthaune Men’s Shed,  Glounthaune Tidy Towns, BirdWatch Ireland (Cork) in association with Cork Co. Council. New habitat development for wading birds (2 shallow ponds excavated one in 2017, the other in 2018, each approximately 5,000m2).

Accessible wildlife to school groups and the general public, stimulating interest and awareness in the natural world with the potential for triggering additional Science Technology Engineering Maths (STEM) involvement. Developing a new visitor destination adjacent and accessible to Cork City  'rus in urbe' - country in the city.

Photo credit: Jim Wilson

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