It was established as a nature reserve in 1985 because of the diversity and richness of its flora and fauna. This richness comes from the fact that it has many different habitat types including a river, lakes, turloughs, callows (flooded meadows), limestone pavement, fen peat, reed beds and rich woodland species.
The reserve has historical and archaeological aspects - the 17th century O’Brien Castle is still standing by the lake edge. There is also the site of Cahermacrea Castle, the site of Kilakee Church, two ring forts and a lime kiln.
Two self guiding nature trails of approximately 1hr exist within the woodland and a section of the 140km Mid-Clare Way also passes through. This loop overlaps on part of the Castle Nature Trail and the Mid-Clare Way. The loop starts at the main car park - an Information Centre opens from June to September.
Directions to Trailhead:
Start from the village of Ruan (10km northwest of Ennis town which is on the N18 between Galway and Limerick). Dromore Wood trailhead is only 2km from Ruan and is signposted from the centre of the village.
A-B. Starting from the car park follow the purple National Loop arrow along the tarred roadway back in the direction of the main vehicle entrance. You will be also following the Mid-Clare Way (marked with yellow arrows and the familiar trekking man logo). After 300m the loop swings right into woodland and by the ruins of Killakee Church.
B-C. Emerging onto the main roadway again, the loop veers right continuing in the direction of the entrance before turning left into woodland just before the exit. You will leave the Mid-Clare way here. After meandering through woodland - running parallel to the boundary wall – you exit the woodland and join a sandy laneway where you turn left.
C-D. Shortly afterwards, the loop rejoins the Mid-Clare Way and wanders along the wooded edge of the reserve for almost 1km. The loop then leaves the Mid Clare Way again to follow the Castle Nature Trail (one of two established loop walks in the reserve).
D-E. This 1km section of the loop takes you onto the shore of Lough Garr and Dromore Lough - at the end of which you rejoin the Mid-Clare Way for the final section back to the trailhead.
E-A. The final 400m of the loop passes by the imposing O'Brien Castle and along a boardwalk to reach the trailhead.