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Ross Strand

Photograph of Ross Beach

Ross Strand

Ross strand is a sandy beach located along the shoreline of Killala Bay. Killala Bay is an extensive triangular estuary with mudflats lining the sides of the channel of the Moy river.  The area offers rich feeding to wildfowl and waders, including Mallard, Shelduck, Curlew, Teal, Whooper Swan, Wigeon and Golden Plover.  Around Killala the salt marshes with flat sedge are of botanical interest.  Adjacent sand dunes support Whitlow grass, a mountain plant, while the long ridge of Barrage Island presents a good series of sand dunes.  The birds using Killala Bay occur in regionally important numbers but their numbers could be affected by any changes that affect the density of the invertebrate organisms on which they feed. 



            Curlew                                                    Whooper Swan


Esker at Killala…

Just south of Killala, the main Ballina road cuts through an Esker ridge whose North and North Eastern sides are thickly covered by hazel woodland.  A notable feature of the wood is the ground flora which occurs in an unusual degree of diversity, especially for the west of Ireland.  The herb species includes wood anemone, wood sorrel, pignut, wood panicle, woodruff and wild strawberry which would indicate that the esker gravels have considerable lime content.  The abundance of ferns and the large leafy liverwort are an indication of the western extreme of this location. 

Eskers are interesting glacial land forms which reach their best development inIreland.  However they are rare in Mayo and seldom covered by woodland.  Eskers are always vulnerable to excavation as they contain mostly sand and gravel.

Sand Dunes…

Sand carried inland by onshore winds is deposited in a streamline form around some obstacle.  Plants then colonise these small mounds of sand.  As sand deposition proceeds, their foliage creates even more deposition and the root network binds the sand into low embryo dunes.  As these dunes grow in height they coalesce parallel to the shoreline.  In turn they are colonised and stabilised by other establishing plants and the dunes continue to grow.

Dune Erosion…

Almost all dunes are subject to erosion, most commonly caused by ‘blowouts’.  This happens when the wind gains access to the sand beneath the vegetation at the crest and rapidly erodes the surface causing a depression.  As the wind is channelled into it, the depression grows until its width reduces the channelling effect of the wind, leaving low-lying rolling dune pasture called Machair.  Frontal erosion occurs when the entire seaward face of the dune system is cut back by storm waves.  This can be recognised by a steep slope of loose sand and slipping clumps of crestal vegetation.  Human activity also has a large part to play in dune erosion.  The removal of sand and shingle can leave large areas of dune open to wind erosion. 

Bird Life….

Waders such as the Snipe, Lapwing and Oystercatcher are frequently spotted in this area.                                                                       





The Gull family is well represented with the Common Gull, Kittiwake, Blackheaded Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull all visitors to the beach.

Lesser Black Backed Gull

Lesser Black Backed Gull


Terns are also sighted with the Arctic Tern, Common Tern and Sandwich Tern being the most commonly noted.

Cormorants and Shags have also been spotted.

Arctic Tern‎Arctic Tern Sandwich Tern‎Sandwich Tern 


ShagShag  Cormorant‎Cormorant

Ross Beach Legend Map (Document)

Ross Beach Legend Map
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Environment Section
Second Floor
Mayo County Council
The Mall
Co Mayo
Phone: (094) 9024444
Open: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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