Guidance on Site

Harper’s Island Wetlands is a nature reserve in the heart of Cork Harbour. It has been designed to give you an unforgettable experience getting close to nature.

To ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience at Harper’s Island Wetlands, please observe the terms and conditions below for all visitors. Please help us ‘Keep it special, Keep it safe!’

No dogs allowed

Even the best behaved dogs can frighten the wildlife

It is natural for dog owners to look for green places to walk their dogs and Harper’s Island Wetlands appears to be the perfect place. Unfortunately bringing in a dog, even on a leash, is not allowed. This applies to most nature reserves around the world. Some of the reasons for these guidelines are:

  • Dogs can bark and make loud noises that will frighten the wildlife.
  • Dogs often dig and forage. This disturbs and may destroy the habitats of the animals and birds that live here.
  • Dogs often chase and can cause injury to small animals such as lizards, mice and frogs.
  • Dogs may leave behind their territorial markings which disrupts the movement of native animals such as foxes and hedgehogs.
  • Dogs may attack birds and disrupt their nesting sites, some of which are on the ground.

Harper’s Island Wetlands is particularly sensitive to disturbance from dogs: large numbers of waterbirds gather on the island to roost and even a single dog barking, or visible to the birds, could scare away all the waterbirds on the island.

For the well-being of the wildlife and plants here at Harper’s Island Wetlands, we seek your cooperation by leaving your dog or dogs at home. There are plenty of places in the surrounding area where dogs can be walked. Thank you for your understanding and we hope you enjoy your visit.

NOTE: We do make an exception for assistance dogs on duty. Assistance dogs must be kept on the lead and under control and harnesses must state “working or assistance dog.”

No Cycling

Sorry, pedestrians only

For those of you travelling to us by bike a bike stand is located at the entrance to the wetlands.

Harper’s Island Wetlands is a nature reserve so unfortunately cycling is not allowed. This is to avoid disturbance to birds and other wildlife and also visitors wishing to enjoy the wildlife on the reserve. Our visitors are pedestrians, taking their time to walk round without having to be alert for cyclists. They come there to look and listen to the birds and insects, admire and study the flowers and plants etc.

No litter

Please take litter home with you

Even the smallest piece of litter spoils other people’s enjoyment of this very special place. We believe everyone is responsible for their own waste so there are no litter bins on site. Please take everything you bring home with you as well as lots of great memories.

Only take memories and photos home

Help keep our reserve beautiful for everyone

Flowers, plants, berries etc. are important sources of food and nesting material for wildlife at Harper’s Island Wetlands. Visitors get great enjoyment from looking at the flowers and plants. Please do not pick flowers, plants, berries etc. Let’s leave them for everyone to enjoy.

No Hunting

A nature reserve for wildlife

Harper’s Island Wetlands is a nature reserve and hunting of any kind is prohibited.

Children must be accompanied by an adult

For their own safety and to protect the wildlife

We require children be accompanied by an adult at all times. Wandering off the paths will disturb the wildlife and possibly damage sensitive habitat. Also, with open water courses on site, there is a danger of falling in. Children must be supervised at all times.

Smoking is prohibited in the hides and no alcohol may be consumed on site

To be observed throughout the site

In accordance with Irish law, smoking is prohibited in the hides. Please also be aware that it is not permitted to drink alcohol anywhere onsite. 

15 Stay on paths 2

Please stay on the paths

Look out for warning and information signs

To avoid disturbance to the wildlife and damage to sensitive habitats please stay on the marked paths and do not climb over fences or open gates that are closed. Look out for warning/information signs – they are there for your protection.

Please take caution

Paths may be uneven in places

Most pathways through the reserve are accessible for wheelchair users and those with walking difficulties. However please note that Harper’s Island Wetlands is a nature reserve so in places and at times pathways on the reserve may be uneven, slippery and muddy. Please take care whilst walking around the reserve.

Open Water Courses

The water is deep and cold

There are areas of deep water on the reserve. The banks can be steep and slippery and, however tempting it may be to get closer, for your own protection you must keep away from the water at all times.