Birr Demesne is a very special microcosm, its own little world of protected wildlife and plant life. The Demesne is a large area of over 50 hectares, walled in on most sides and well protected from invading species. The only non-human intruders have been the occasional fallow deer which has wondered in from the area of the Family Tree Scheme in Cuil na hInch.
There are two rivers which flow into the Demesne from the Slieve Bloom hills to the south. They meet in the Demesne down the river Walk. The occasional shy otter can be seen in the larger river, the Little Brosna – sometimes their ‘slides’, where they slip into the river, are obvious to the trained eye. Kingfishers nest in the holes in the bank – again they are shy but you may be lucky to see one. The red squirrel is our great success story as they are back and can often be seen all over the demesne. The grey seem now to have disappeared.
Both of these rivers contain brown trout, and the Camcor is known for its own special fish, the Croneen. This is a unique species, partly a lake trout, but pink like a salmon. It comes up the river in late August to spawn.
All areas are full of bird life, and it is a great delight for the bird watcher. The lake is full of mallard, and coot are there too if there are not too many ducks. Swans also nest here.
We also try to keep some of our areas wild for the native plants to flourish. The area we call the wilderness in lower Cuil na hInch is seldom penetrated and left wild for trees to fall and grow as in nature. The park in front of the castle too, is a wonderful wildflower meadow in May. The area has never been ploughed and you may find at least 100 species of flowers and grasses there. Later in the year you may find orchids in many places. Our rarest one is the Green Flowered Helleborine which has been found in our wooded area.