Birds of Prey Demonstrations and Hawk Walks – Amazing Ireland Experiences

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Since my family's first hawk walk, way back in 2015, we have been hooked on these up-close experiences with birds of prey in Ireland.

The Sport of Falconry in Ireland

The sport of falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural habitat by means of a trained bird of prey.

Falconry has been practiced in Ireland since approximately 3000BC. The first reference to falconry in Ireland was made in the 7th century in reference to the King of Tara owning two hunting hawks.

Twelfth century Norman laws restricted falconry to the upper classes, truly making it the ‘Sport of Kings'.

Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo Ireland. Irish adventure for families | Ireland travel tips | IrelandFamilyVacations.com

Experience Falconry in Ireland

While you may be able to experience a falconry or birds of prey demonstration and a hawk walk in the same location, they are not the same thing.

What is a Falconry Demonstration?

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A birds of prey or falconry demonstration is an educational event that allows people to observe multiple predatory birds in a group setting.

These events usually include 2 – 3 different birds, entertaining presentations about each, as well as flight demonstrations that showcase the flying and hunting techniques of each bird.

Depending on the presentation, audience members may be asked to participate and photo opportunities may be available after the show.

What is a Hawk Walk?

Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo Ireland.

A hawk walk is a private session for a couple or small group. In this session you will get ‘up close' with the birds, possibly meeting a few before you set out with the birds you will be flying, usually Harris Hawks.

The average hawk walk lasts an hour, though some may be longer; be sure to inquire when booking.

Pricing for hawk walks vary by location, but you can expect to pay around €120 per person for a one hour walk.

What to Know Before Booking a Birds of Prey Experience

The birds in both the demonstrations and walks are predators. If a tasty morsel shows itself during a demonstration or a walk the bird is very likely to hunt, and possibly capture, said treat.

Birds of prey are carnivores. During the performance or the walk they will be given raw meat, which can be recognizable as an animal. If you are sensitive to this you may want to rethink your activity.

You may feel a bit like prey as the bird flies directly at you, focused on the raw meat on your gloved hand. It's rather exhilarating.

Birds are not trained and won't always land where you expect.

A bird on the head is worth 2 in the bush? Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo Ireland.

Many hawk walks have a minimum age requirement; if traveling with small children be sure to check this before booking.

Advance reservations are necessary for all hawk walks.

Where to find Birds of Prey Demonstrations and Hawk Walks in Ireland

Each birds of prey experience in Ireland is a bit different but one theme I've found to be constant is the passion of the falconers and the incredible care given to the birds.

Our Hawk Walk Experiences

Chili waits to flush out game. Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo Ireland.

Our first hawk walk took place at the Mount Falcon Estate in Mayo. After learning about the variety of birds in their mews we enjoyed a walk through the woodlands with two birds and a hunting dog. This is the only hawk walk we have done with a dog accompaniment.

Wells House Falconry Experience with Jim O'Connor. Ireland travel tips | Ireland vacation |IrelandFamilyVacations.com

Our second hawk walk experience was with Master Falconer, Jim O'Conner, who can now be found at The Falconry Centre at the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford. You can visit the birds in their habitats and private falconry demonstrations can be booked.

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Adare Country Pursuits at Adare Manor in County Limerick offered the most complete private falconry experience we have had. It began with a personal meeting with 6 birds of prey – from a massive eagle to a wee owl. We then walked our Harris Hawks and ended the day with an eagle flight display.

Ireland School of Falconry at Ashford Castle is Ireland's oldest falconry school. These are probably the most beautiful grounds to fly a falcon as your walk takes place in the gardens and woodlands.

Hawkeye School of Falconry at Lyrath Estate offers one of the most educational falconry experiences we've enjoyed. The walk takes place in an open field surrounded by trees. This is a fabulous location the open area allows for a private flight demonstration and amazing photo opportunities.

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Aillwee Burren Experience in County Clare offers a public birds of prey demonstration and private hawk walks. I love the birds of prey demonstration here as it is both entertaining and educational. The audience is invited to participate and photo opps are offered – so don't be shy!

The private hawk walk at Aillwee is unique as it takes place in a forested area at the edge of the Burren's rocky landscape. Because the area is not as busy as other spots you may have the chance to see the birds hunt.

Hawk Walk at Mount Falcon Estate in County Mayo Ireland. Family activities in Ireland

Other Falconry Experiences in Ireland

The School of Falconry at Dromoland Castle in County Clare offers private hawk walks.

Killarney Falconry offers guided hawk walks with the beautiful background of the MacGillycuddy Reeks.

Falconry Kerry offers private experiences on a working farm near Killarney – so you may also visit their friendly alpacas and spring lambs.

Falconry Ireland in County Wicklow offers private falconry experiences for individuals and groups.

Mayfield Birds of Prey in Waterford offers daily public shows and private hawk walks.

National Birds of Prey Centre at Russborough House in Wicklow offers multiple private tours and experiences. Public tours are limited so be sure to check the website for times.

Hawk Walks NI on the Antrim coast offers a full falconry experience (a meet & greet of sorts with multiple birds before a hawk walk) and a hawk walk experience.

Some accommodations can also arrange falconry experiences during your stay but do not have an on site falconry mews.

Traveling in Ireland podcast episode 209

Jody Halsted
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