The Gearagh

We are privileged to have one of the last surviving Post Glacial Alluvial Forests in the world on our doorstep.  While the forest was largely cut down in the 1950's when the area was turned into a feeder reservoir for the Inniscarra Dam Hydro Electric Plant, it is still a wonderful place to walk and enjoy the wonders of nature. It is managed as a National Wildlife Reserve by the national electricity supply company ESB.

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Designated 30 May 1990
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The Gearagh, MacroomCounty Cork, Ireland

The Gearagh is a submerged glacial woodland and nature reserve two kilometres east of MacroomCounty Cork, Ireland. It is located at the point where the River Leedescends from the mountains and widens at an alluvial plain, and stretches for roughly five kilometres, bounded by the townlands of Toonsbridge, Illaunmore and Anahala.

It was until recently densely populated with ancient oaktrees and the last surviving full oak forest in western Europe. Its Irish name, An Gaoire, is derived from the Irish word Gaorthadh, roughly the Wooden River.[2] It was flooded in 1954 to facilitate the building of two hydro-electric dams in Carrigadrohid and Inniscarra, which provide electricity for the nearby city of Cork. The area is now part of the plants' upper reservoir. The development required that the region was flooded, and so lead to the felling of hundreds of trees and the removal and relocation of tracts of people. Many of the trees were centuries old and had grown since the medieval period.[3]Today only their stumps survive, in flood land, giving the area a ghostly and almost lunar appearance.[2]

Today it comprises wide but shallow water enclosing a series of small islands separated by anastomosing, mostly flat, river streams.[4]It remains an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a diverse ecological system[3] and wide variety of plants, birds and fish, including freshwater pearl musselAtlantic salmonwhooper swanskingfishers and otters.

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