FEARS and public concern have been allayed this week that a new tourism initiative on Lough Derg would be responsible for scaring away two rare white-tailed sea eagles that have made their home near Mountshannon.
Environmentalists in East Clare had voiced their concern that an air show due to take place in Mountshannon on September 9 next would threaten the rare eagles that are now breeding in Ireland for the ﬁrst time in more than 100 years.
The eagles were driven to extinction a century ago; the last white- tailed sea eagles to breed here did so in remote coastal areas of Kerry and Mayo back in 1898.
This new breeding pair – a fouryear-old male and three-year-old female – were introduced to Ireland in 2008 and 2009 respectively from the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway.
They were among 100 birds released in Killarney National Park as part of the reintroduction programme and early last year they made their home in Bushy Island, a thickly vegetated outcrop on Lough Derg, close to Mountshannon.
“People were afraid of what might happen to the eagles because of the air show,” revealed John Harvey of Mountshannon Community Council. “But Dr Alan Mee, who is in charge of the eagles, said he doesn’t think there will be any problem unless the planes ﬂy over the island.
“We had a meeting to address those concerns on Friday night and everyone seems to be happy. We are going to meet with the pilots before the show, so we will know exactly where they will be ﬂying over. Once they stay a kilometre away from the island, it will be okay. They will be ﬂying at 1,500 feet, so we seem to think that everything will go ahead without any problems,” he added.
The air show is being organised by Harbour Flights, the company that has been given permission by Clare and Galway County Councils to operate a sea-plane service on Lough Derg that will include a ﬂoating pontoon and slipway at Mountshannon.
“The intention of putting on this activity is to attract people from all locations across Ireland to Lough Derg and introduce them to what we believe is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets,” says Rose Curtis of Harbour Flights.
“As Lough Derg is the second largest lake in Ireland, it is hoped the air show will attract a large amount of cruiser owners from as far away as the six counties,” she added.