A bird reserve next to a pharmaceutical facility @LoughBegCork

30 December 2020
By Mary Bermingham

A bird reserve next to a pharmaceutical facility

Ringaskiddy is known as a hub of the pharmaceutical industry, something that has given generations of locals employment and other benefits. Closeby; is the related area of Currabinny (spelled Curraghbinny by the Ordnance Survey and Currabinney by others) which has a less industrial and more residential vibe. The sylvanian backdrop of Currabinny woods with its views of Crosshaven across the Owenboy river have made Currabinny something of a millionaires row. Yet, the ordinary citizen can enjoy Currabinny woods – managed by Coillte – for free. Indeed there is a free car park there too. We recommend you visit sometime.

Many people are surprised to learn that on the road between industrial Ringaskiddy and picturesque Currabinny there is a nature reserve, which is accessed from the carpark of a multinational pharmaceutical facility.

It’s a bird reserve and has its own website at LBBRcork.ie. That website says the current reserve area covers “about 4 hectares of a brackish water lagoon and salt marsh habitat, separated from the estuary by an artificial causeway”.

According to the Land Registry a 13.16 hectare plot of land – within which the reserve rests – is owned by the IDA (Industrial Development Authority). The unusual land ownership situation likely dates from the 1970’s when the Irish Government were keen to secure Foreign Direct Investment for Ireland, and the IDA developed landbanks to lure foreign multinationals in, to create employment. This interesting RTE report from 1976 sums up how Cork was developing at the time. One imagines the nature reserve and peninsula – where the phama facility now rests – were part of a larger land acquisition programme around that time.

Today the pharmaceutical firm which adjoins the site has been Thermo Fisher since 2019, but – as is normal in the pharma world – the name of the business on the site has changed many times over years from Penn Chemicals in 1975, to SmithKline Beecham in 1989, to GlaxoSmithKline in 2000.

Unlike Currabinny woods public access to the reserve is not openly permitted. Pedestrian access – from the pharma carpark – is restricted by a wooden gate, a sign states “authorised personnel only – any queries please contact security” [referring to the security hut at the entrance of the pharma firm].

Pedestrian access from elsewhere in the carpark used to be possible on foot – in reality – but has now been restricted by the use of metal railings

Lough Beg was recognised as far back as 1986, when an author with an unusual surname included it in a report ‘Report on Areas of Scientific Interest in County Cork’ by Roger Goodwillie.

Cork is full of many hidden places, and gems. In relation to this area, it’s probably best to avoid and leave the wildlife enjoy freedom from too much human contact. Bird watchers enjoy peaceful access to the reserve. There is a prolific Twitter account @LoughBegCork which demonstrates the love some people have of birdwatching

Minimising public use of the reserve also has the benefit of reducing littering. It is sadly the case that Currabinny woods – nearby – has litter.

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