How did a baron in Co Meath launch Ireland’s largest re-wilding experiment?

In The News podcast: Randal Plunkett turned his estate into a nature reserve for wildlife

About 30km north of Dublin in Co Meath lies a hidden oasis filled with trees, flowers and wild animals called Dunsany Castle. The Dunsany estate, built more than 900 years ago, is rich in history and is now home to Ireland's largest re-wilding experiment.

A decade ago, film-maker and producer Randal Plunkett, 21st Baron of Dunsany, inherited the castle which lies between the towns of Trim and Dunshaughlin.

Plunkett started out by following in his ancestors’ footsteps and continuing to farm the 1,700-acre estate. However, after a few years, he decided to go in a different direction. He removed the grazing animals, started farming crops and gave 750 acres of his land straight back to nature, creating a wildlife reserve on his own doorstep. Seven years on, Plunkett continues to run Ireland’s largest re-wilding experiment.

“I think we have to evolve the ways we do things here,” he told presenter Sorcha Pollak who visited the estate with producer Suzanne Brennan. “Re-wilding, reforesting, creating green spaces . . . they’re micro-changes and I think those will have much more impact than whether we have to pay a little extra at the gas pump.


“Places like Dunsany shouldn’t be the only one. Dunsany is an oasis, but what I’d really like to see is Dunsany’s part of the web; the web of forestry, the web of countryside. Every county should have places like this for the public . . . If we can simply do a little bit and allow nature to have a space, I think we’d cure a lot of the problems we have in society today.”

Today on In the News, we step outside the studio and into Ireland’s biggest re-wilding experiment.

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope.

Listen to the podcast here:

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast