The Raven Nature Reserve is situated approximately 8km NE of Wexford Town and adjacent to Curracloe beach. Like the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve it is owned by the National Parks and Wildlife Service of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. In addition, Coillte, the state forestry company, owns the forestry timber.
The Reserve started its existence as a long narrow sand spit sheltering the entrance to Wexford Harbour (the name Raven comes from ‘Rabhainn’ meaning a spade shaped piece of land), in the mid 1880s the creation of the adjacent North Slob landlocked the sand spit on its western side.
The Toole family of Curracloe House owned The Raven in the 19th Century and there is a belief that trees were planted there during their ownership.
By 1920, ownership had been transferred to George M.Grogan, Sir E.W.B Grogan, Elizabeth Grogan and Amy Isabelle McClintock amongst others but it was George Colloton of Castlebridge who was the title holder in 1930 when The Raven was sold to the Minister of Agriculture with the planting of conifers starting soon after.
Covering approximately 600 acres of land and 3.6km in length, the woods are planted with many trees, the commonest being the Corsican Pine; there are also Douglas Fir, Maritime Pine, Shore Pine, Scots Pine, Monterey Pine and others. Most trees were planted for coast protection and timber production. Some trees have grown naturally including the Grey Willow, Creeping Willow, Burnet Rose and Sycamore.
The woods are an important habitat for the native Red Squirrel. The Pine trees are important for these mammals as they prefer to feed on pine cones rather than big seeds like acorns or hazelnuts. Grey squirrels have not yet established themselves in the Raven which might be down to the presence of the Pine Marten, a cat sized animal known as the Cat Crainn in Irish meaning ‘Cat of the Trees’. Visit www.pinemarten.ie to learn more about this fascinating animal.
The Nature Reserve is a Special Area of Conservation for its habitats and a Special Protection Area under the Birds Regulations with the Greenland White-fronted Goose, Common Scoter, Red-throated Diver, Cormorant, Grey Plover and Sanderling being of particular interest.
Other species of interest include the plants Round leaved Wintergreen, Yellow Birds Nest, Sand Sedge and Lesser Centaury; various species of butterfly and Natterjack toads.
The Raven is a popular destination for walkers and has a looped walk through the woods of 6.5km. This path is a compacted stone surface with little or no incline. There is parking at the entrance to the woods and a County Council car park but please be aware that these may be full at peak times.
In order for everyone to enjoy the surroundings we would ask people to please observe the following:
Please take all your litter home or use the bins provided at the entrance to the woods.
Don’t light fires or barbecues as fires can endanger people and plants.
Be aware that no camping is allowed.
For the enjoyment of all users and in the interest of nature conservation, please keep dogs under control at all times. Owners please clean up after your dog and dispose of bags in a responsible manner. There is a special bin at the entrance to the boardwalk.
Please do not use any motor vehicle or bike in the wood or on the beach.
Do not ride horses in the wood.