Explore Ballyteige Burrow, and surrounding lands, as a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) in Trek Ireland in South Weford Coast guided virtual tour series.
This area is famously known as 'The Sunny South-East' as it receives the most amount of bright sunshine anywhere in Ireland. Within this area is a collection of protected natural heritage sites consisting of complex dune systems that are now over 2,000 years old that are home to a wide variety of plant and animal life such as rabbits, hares, stoats, and hedgehogs.
Ballytiege Burrow guided virtual tour audio transcript of local guide and naturalist Jim Hurley
[00:09:04} Ballytiege Burrow
We're now at Ballyteige on one of the Wexford walking trails immediately adjacent to the village of Kilmore Quay, the premier fishing port in South Wexford. The place name Ballyteige is interpreted to be Irish, Bhaile Thaidgh, the townland of Thaidgh. It is not known who Thaidgh was and the Burrow part refers to rabbits.
The rabbit is believed to be not a native animal to Ireland but an animal that was brought here by the Anglo-Normans and was farmed for fur and for meat and the family that farmed them here was the Whitty family and they lived at Ballyteige Castle behind me. They're mentioned in historical documents back to 1247 and they farmed this area here with rabbits. The great advantage was that the area didn't need to be fenced. At that time, of course, they didn't have wire so the only way to fence the rabbits was to build walls, making a connie bawn, a walled enclosure but here the rabbits ran free on the dunes.
The dunes... extend over a wide area and the main interest of the dunes would be the wild flowers, the plant communities, and the great abundance of insects; ants, bees, butterflies; they all have an advantage here for three reasons. One, the great abundance of sand, part of the legacy of the last Ice Age. The high level of sunshine–we're in the sunny south east, we get about 1,600 hours of bright sunshine a year, and the southerly location all favours these insects.
Now, in Norman times, the area was more or less an island and all of this land behind me was intaken as a famine scheme during an Gorta Mór, the great potato famine of the late 1840s and early 1850s and the rabbits, obviously, escaped then inland but they were still very common here on the dunes and up to the early 1950s up to 4,000 rabbits a year were harvested from the dunes here. Myxomatosis came in 1956 and wiped out the rabbits but some of them were resistant and they are now coming back.
The area is a protected area; it is a Special Protection Area for wild birds and a candidate Special Area of Conservation for the dunes and the vegetation that the dunes support and all the different life forms. So, it's a wonderful place to enjoy a walk. The walk is a looped walk, 4.5km long, it goes out along behind the dunes on a mowed grass path and then crosses over the dunes and comes back along the beach. Very pleasant walk, very popular so, I hope you enjoy it.
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