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Location Ireland, West
Central coordinates 10o 9.00' West  53o 30.00' North
IBA criteria B1i, B2, C2, C6
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 0 - 63m
Year of IBA assessment 2000

BirdWatch Ireland

Site description This very large site encompasses many small islands and islets stretching from Slyne Head (Illaunamid Island) south-eastwards via Ballyconneely, Bertraghboy and Kilkieran Bay as far as Greatman's Bay. Several IBAs which were treated separately in the previous pan-European inventory (Grimmett and Jones 1989) have been combined to form this site, including Eeshal Island (formerly IE041), Horse Island (formerly IE042), Hen Island (formerly IE043), Oilean Geabhrog (formerly IE045), Oilean nan Geabhrog (formerly IE046), Duck Island (formerly IE047) and Geabhrog Island (formerly IE048). The site also includes surrounding waters, covering a sea area up to 5 km off the mainland, along a coast of 40 km in length.

Key Biodiversity This group of islands supports some of the most important colonies of breeding terns Sterna, especially Sterna paradisaea, in Ireland and is also an important winter feeding site for Branta leucopsis, particularly on St Macdara's Island and more recently in Inishmuskerry. A detailed review of tern usage from surveys in 1969-1970, 1984 and 1995 is required to clarify which are the most important islands. In the absence of such a review, a single such IBA is considered a better approach as terns appear to be very mobile within this area.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis winter  1994  225-370 individuals  B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis breeding  1995  223 breeding pairs  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  1995  139 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea breeding  1995  666 breeding pairs  good  C6  Least Concern 
Little Tern Sternula albifrons breeding  1995  41 breeding pairs  good  B2, C6  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Grassland   10%
Sea Sea inlets and coastal features  80%
Coastline Lagoons; Rock stacks and islets; Sand dunes & beaches  10%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 10%
fisheries/aquaculture 80%
not utilised 10%

Protection status National None International None

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Connemara Islands. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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