Ballinoulart Beach

Getting there

Ballinoulart BeachThis is a 10 Minute walk from Morriscastle Beach or a 10 Minute Drive from your cottage. Turn left at the entrance on Morriscastle Beach to walk to  Ballinoulart. If you are driving make a right turn in Kilmuckridge village and then take the first right turn from the R742.

Facilities

Ballinoulart has a good area for car parking. Cahore and Ballygarrett are the nearest villages with cafes and shops.

The Beach

Despite its quiet and tranquil appearance and the wonderful adventure its banks provide for children Ballinoulart is an important ornithological site and was the scene of a strategic battle in Irish history.

The Dunes

Passing through the Gateway into Ballinoulart Beach the dune system to the North deepens into a very wide band of green marram grasses interspersed with silvery pockets of sand. This dune system provides wonderful shelter and a huge adventure playground for children. The Dune system is directly behind the car park and easily accessible for small children.

The Shore
The Little Tern-an exotic visitor

An area of the beach just to the north of the Ballinoulart is a nesting area of the Little Tern.

The Little Tern is the rarest of Ireland’s terns

Terns at Ballinoulart BeachIt winters as far away as South Africa and Australia and returns to Ireland and Ballinoulart in April and May to breed. Ballinoulart is one of the few places in Ireland where it nests. It lays its eggs flat on the beach where they are indistinguishable from the stones. They are chattering little fellows with distinctive thin black tipped sharp yellow beaks, yellow legs and a very fast flight. Their courtship starts with an aerial display where the male first dive bombs into the sea to catch a fish and with the fish in his beak teases the female who chases him high up into the sky both of them swooping and rising in a sharp “V”pattern. Its nesting sites are vulnerable so please skirt the stony drifts in the center of the beach during the early summer.

The History

Ballinoulart Beach was the site of a strategic battle 1649. A small contingent of Cromwell’s forces was heading to Wexford to provide reinforcements for his army in Wexford before he marched  to Cork. The contingent had about 350 horse soldiers and 800 foot soldiers. They had been warned of a blockade being set up by a large body of Irish outside Arklow.

Cromwell’s spying system was very good and  he advised his contingent to “To march close, and be circumspect, and to Swanmake what haste they could to Wexford, by the sea-side. “They travelled along the coast to avoid the Irish army but were overtaken between Ballinoulart and Old Bawn Beaches. The Irish had a large army of about 3000 horse and foot soldiers under Lord Inchiquin . The Cromwellians  despite being a much smaller force and being initially overcome fought back and the Irish troops were routed with significant losses .According to Cromwell’s account to Parliament on November 14th 1649  his party “totally routed the Irish; took two colours and divers prisoners, and killed divers upon the place and in the pursuit. I do not hear that we have two men killed; and but one mortally wounded” It was a huge defeat for the Irish as they had the advantage of much larger numbers of soldiers. The defeat did much to discredit Lord Inchiquin who soon afterwards sailed to France.

Special Features of the Beach
The Windmills

Ballinoulart WindmillsThe windmills are a great sight like something from the future - Giants on the landscape dancing languidly together in the wind. They are an awesome sight seen close up and the view of them from Ballinoulart sandbanks gives an idea of their scale and power.

The Polders

The area immediately behind the sand dunes at Ballinoulart is called the Cahore Polders. The Cahore Polders are of major ornithological importance as a site for wintering waterfowl.

They support a flock of Greenland White fronted geese .Both Whopper and Berwick swans can be seen serenely swimming on the ponds or chattering away at feeding times. Both have dramatic splashes of yellow and black in their beaks. During their flight from the Artic the swan can fly at a height of up to 8 kilometres!! Swans are monogamous and when one swan dies the other may not mate for several years –if ever. Chicks stay with the parents for the first year and often older chicks come back to live with their parents over a couple of years- an increasingly popular pattern even for human beings.

The area is also noted for a number of rare plants including Wild Asparagus and Mares Horse Tail a prehistoric plant thought to have many curative medicinal properties for gout, skin disorders, arthritis, dandruff and smelly feet among others!  In earlier times clumps were often used as pot scorers.

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