Bridges of Ross
The Heritage Council
Short Interpretive Text
Medium Interpretive Text
Long Interpretive Text
The spectacular natural sea arch at the Bridges of Ross gives the site its name. There was originally a trio of spectacular natural sea arches, until two of them gradually fell into the sea in the last hundred years. The cliff-face rock formations on the southwest and north sides of the peninsula trace the evolution of a great river delta during the Upper Carboniferous Period, about 320 million years ago when Clare was located close to the equator and was part of the great land mass, Pangea. Current formations at Bridges of Ross were created by later movements of the earth’s plates which folded and tilted the beds of sedimentary rock.
The shoreline at Ross beach is home to many creatures and seaweeds that thrive in this undisturbed semi-sheltered shore. Among the species in the lower shore and rock pools include sea anemones and limpets. The limpets, which have re-emerged following near extinction due to over harvesting during the famine, vary in size depending on their location on the shoreline. There are 85 different types of seaweeds identified on the beach. These seaweeds were cultivated for many years by local farmers. Tillage is not carried out much in the area anymore so the seaweed are not harvested and undergo a natural decay process, which in turn results in nutrients for the ocean, which benefits the many creatures living in it.
This area is low lying and seabirds pass very close to shore, if not over your head during autumn migration. The area is regarded as one of the best bird watching sites in Europe. In late summer and autumn thousands of rare seabirds pass close to shore on their southbound migration and makes for really exciting watching and allows the observer superb views of all passing seabirds.
During late summer and early autumn Great Cory’s, Balearic, Sooty and Manx Shearwater passage can be excellent. All four skuas; Great, Arctic, Pomarine and Long-tailed are regular and occur from late July to early November. Storm Petrels can be seen from mid-July to late October. Wilson’s Storm Petrels are seen normally from mid-July to mid-September with mid-August being the best time of year for passage. Leach’s Petrels are always that bit later and occur in large numbers from late September to late October. Sabine’s Gulls also appear from mid-August to late October. Grey Phalarope are regular in September and October. Little Auks put in an appearance from early October to late winter depending on wind direction.
In autumn the best sea watching conditions are often after north-westerly gales, especially if the storm centre lies well to the north between Scotland and Iceland or if a fast depression moves down from Greenland and arctic Canada across the north Atlantic. These systems blow in Sabine’s Gulls, Leach’s Petrels, Little auks, and Grey phalaropes along with a good selection of skuas. Of the rarer seabirds so far there has been ten Fae’s Petrels, two Swinhoe’s Petrel, one Sooty Tern and three Little Shearwaters. There are regular updates on birds in the area on the website www.clarebirdwatching.com.
It is also possible to spot whales, dolphins and sunfish from the coastline. Keep an eye out for flocks of birds (where there are birds feeding, there could be dolphins or whales too), a change in wave patterns, a blow (a plume of water vapour) or footprint (the circular, smooth patch of surface water where a whale or dolphin has dived to a lower depth).
While most of the famous movie, Ryan's Daughter (1970), was shot in Dingle, Co. Kerry; some scenes were filmed at Bridges of Ross and near Dunlicky Castle.
Site Recommendations and Observations
Being a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that all proposed improvement measures, interpretation and recommendations made in this report tie into and compliment the official WAW interpretation proposals being undertaken by The Paul Hogarth Company and any other proposed Failte Ireland site improvement or infrastructural measures.
It is recommended that adequate road signage be provided for this site in both directions and in conjunction with proposed WAW signage proposals for Discovery points.
As a WAW Discovery Point, it is recommended that parking counts be undertaken during the peak season to quantify if additional parking is required. It is recommended that cycle parking be considered at this site.
Due to the location of the arches, it is recommended that the existing walking route from the car park to the site be extend along the cliffs to form an official loop walk on the headland and possibly further along the cliffs in both directions. For example, to connect Loop Head and the Bridges of Ross with a cliff top walking route similar to the Kilkee Cliff Walk. If considered, it is recommended that dialogue should be initiated between all stakeholders, tenants and landowners regarding possible future public access.
Due to the site location approx. 500m away from the car park, it is recommended that consideration be given to locating interpretation information at both the car park and the site itself.
It is recommended that appropriately located and suitably visual and physical site interpretation measures be considered to help visitors grasp the vast time periods you are dealing with in Geology.
It is recommended that the provision of cycle parking should be considered at this site.
The following three statements apply to all site recommendations:
- ‘All proposals must comply with all planning, local authority and other statutory requirements.’
- ‘All proposals for development within, adjacent to or with the potential to affect a Natura 2000 site will be subject to an Appropriate Assessment Screening. To ensure that a Habitat Directive Assessment is carried out to assess the likely impacts on Natura 2000 sites in order to comply with Article 6(3) of the Habitat Directive and in accordance with the requirements of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011.’
- ‘All projects must be undertaken in accordance with the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Points Remedial Works Guidelines, including the Ecological Method Statement.’
Sources of Information
1) Interview with Martin McKeown
2) Interview with Carmel Madigan
3) Online Research
Other Research and Facts
Seashore- Madigan, C., ‘Seasons, Species and Patterns of a North East Atlantic Shore’. 2014.
Bird watching - http://www.clarebirdwatching.com/
Geology- Parkes, M., McAteer, C., & Engering, S., The Geological Heritage of Clare: An audit of County Geological Sites in Clare (2005). http://www.gsi.ie/NR/rdonlyres/A6A0DE5E-DE94-448E-922C-0E352BB91A65/0/Clare_section1.pdf