A wild Golden Eagle chick has hatched in Co Donegal, for the first time in almost 100 years.
The nest actually hatched two chicks, but as normally happens, the second chick died after five days. According to the Golden Eagle Trust, there will be a further wait of seven to eight weeks to see if the remaining chick can continue to grow and hopefully fledge in late July.
Golden Eagles last bred in Glenveagh, Co Donegal in 1910 and became extinct in Ireland after the last breeding attempt in Co Mayo in 1912.
Adult eagles were reintroduced into Glenveagh National Park as part of a Golden Eagle reintroduction programme in 2001, and despite eggs being laid in 2005 and 2006, this is the first year young have been produced.
The exact location of the nest has not been revealed to the public in order to minimise disturbance to the birds.
The breeding adults were collected as chicks from the Highlands of Scotland. The pair was first spotted together on 1 August 2006 and have been together since.
Golden Eagles can live up to 30 years and usually take four to six years to breed. They can produce young for up to 20 years. A total of 46 eagles have been released in the region since 2001 and Golden Eagles have since shown tentative signs of re-establishing themselves in Donegal.
The Golden Eagle Trust has confirmed that a second pair also laid eggs in 2007, while three other young pairs were seen in further locations. A single sighting of a pair of eagles in Connacht may also be the first putative sign of birds spreading outside of Co Donegal.
The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has welcomed the news that a chick has hatched, describing it as 'a marvellous milestone'.
Mr Roche also paid tribute to all of those involved in the project.
The Golden Eagle reintroduction project began with funding from the National Millennium Committee in 2000 and has been funded since by EU LIFE, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the Heritage Council and others.