Site details

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Flag of Ireland
5 stars - Fully protected as a national park or Natura 2000 site by national legislation
Normal Focal Site

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View east from Clare Island to Clew Bay, Co. Mayo. Photo: Damian Allen

Synoptic description of site:

Exposed offshore island on the west cost of Ireland.

Extensive description of site:

Clare Island lies off the west coast of Ireland approximately 5 km from the nearest mainland harbour. It is approximately 1600 ha. The majority of the island is rocky with one sheltered sandy bay on the east coast. To the west it is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean with the seabed dropping away to over 100 m.

Habitats present:
Littoral XX
Seagrass bedsX

Description of fauna and flora:

The fauna and flora are well documented from the historical Clare Island survey between 1909 and 1911 published by Robert Lloyd Praeger and was one of the first All Taxa Biodiversity Inventories (ATBI) in the world. The surveys have not been repeated but a range of research projects are underway there.

Human impact:

The island has a population of about 160 mostly living in the on the southern and eastern sides of the island. There is no heavy industry with farming and fishing the major impacts. The Clare Island sea farm is located off the east coast of the island and diving occurs around the island.


There are no specific facilities for marine biodiversity research on the island however extensive facilities occur at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) approximately 200 km away.

Available database and website:

Details of the old and new Clare Island surveys are found at

Dataset covering this area:


Commitment and ongoing research:

The Royal Irish Academy has committed to promote studies on Clare Island although there is a need for a complete ATBI.

Additional Information:

Picton, B. E. & Costello, M. J., Eds. 1999. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. Trinity College, Dublin, Environmental Sciences Unit. Marine Institute 1999. Ireland's Marine and Coastal Areas and adjacent Seas: An Environmental Assessment. Dublin.