Walking and our Environment – 2017 Newsletters

June 2017

Notes from ‘A Celebration of Ireland’s mountain environment’, Cappanalea Outdoor Education & Training Centre, Killorglin, 26th – 28th May

To coincide with National Biodiversity Week, and delivered in conjunction with Cappanalea OETC, Killarney National Park Education Centre and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks Mountain Access Forum, Mountaineering Ireland hosted a weekend celebration of Ireland’s mountain environment in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks.  Each activity added a piece to the interlocking mosaic of Ireland’s uplands: geology, flora, fauna, ornithology…..and the community of people who live and work there.

Cappanalea OEC, Kerry ETB.  Situated 11 km south of Killorglin, overlooking Cappanalea Lake, the Centre employs 30 people, teachers, specialists, support staff.  Programmes in the Centre include adventure sports and field study activities, focusing on personal development for all ages.  Activities include canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, raft building, camping, hill walking, rock climbing, orienteering, bouldering, team initiatives.  The Centre also welcomes walking groups, plenty of space in the 4-bedded dorms, as does the hostel in Killarney National Park.  http://www.cappanalea.ie

Friday evening:  Greeted by Colette and given a tour of the Centre, a group of 15 from various parts of Ireland was happily immersed in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks for the next two days.

Welcome from Mike Maunsell , Chair of MI’s Access & Conservation Committee, and from Helen Lawless, Hillwalking, Access & Conservation Officer.

Valerie O’Sullivan, photographer, author of ‘Ireland’s Atlantic Shore’ , ‘I am of Kerry’, and of the newly  published ‘The MacGillycuddy’s Reeks’.  A talk by Valerie, whose  stunning  photos reflect the multi-dimensions of the landscape, the land, the daily life of the people in the community, customs and traditions, animals, the weather, natural and built structures, the adventures,  and enlivened by  Valerie’s personal anecdotes.  www.valerieosullivan.com

Saturday am.  An introduction to the geology of Ireland, Kerry and the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks by     Gosia Horajska, geologist.  Gosia is developing  geotourism in Kerry.   Starting with one half of Ireland closer to Antarctica and the other half in the northern hemisphere, through  Avalonia’s collision with Laurentia, Gosia looked at geological heritage sites, and specifically the northern side of the Reeks.   Her blog is https://gochahor.wixsite.com/kerrygeo .  She highly recommended the following books:

648 Billion Sunrises, A Geological Miscellany of Ireland, Patrick Roycroft

Rock around Ireland, A guide to Irish geology,  Peadar McArdle

The Making of Ireland, Landscapes in Geology,  Michael Williams and David Harper

And check out the Du Noyer GSI Photo Competition for your best pic of a rock

http://www.gsi.ie/Education/Du+Noyer+Photography+Competition.htm

Sat am: With the intention of putting our new-found knowledge into practice under Gosia’s guidance, and inspired by Valerie’s photographs, we headed off in a mini-bus to the Breanlee carpark and up the hydro path to Lough Eagher and Coomloughra Lough.   Skylarks, wagtails, wheatears, a Kerry slug which was eclipsed and surpassed in stardom  by a mink slinking among the rocks, greater butterwort, orchids, St Patrick’s cabbage, club moss, lichen, saxifrage, mosses, tormentil, frochan, and plenty of vividly branded sheep, a multi-layered world engrossed us  for the afternoon.

Sat evening:  Tony Nagle, BirdWatch Ireland Atlas Volunteer , introduced us to Ireland’s Upland birds,  from passage migrants such as the snow-bunting and ptarmigan, to our own golden plover, dunlin, dottrel, red grouse, ring ouzel and choughs, and to our endangered curlew, to the raptors; merlin, hen harrier, peregrine falcon, short-eared owl, buzzard and golden eagle.   http://www.birdwatchireland.ie

Helen Lawless reminded us of the uniqueness  of Ireland’s upland areas.  Only 6% of Ireland lies above 300 metres, and only 0.35% above 600 metres, 82% of our drinking water comes from our upland areas.  What we have is very precious.  MI’s vision:

Mountaineering Ireland exists to represent and support the walkers and climbers of Ireland and to be a voice for the sustainable use of Ireland’s mountains and all the places (coastline, crags, forests) we use.

Prizes awarded for the best pics of the day.

Sunday, a fantastic day in the Reeks:   Leaving Lisleibane car park, we headed up Knocknabrinnea in glorious sunshine, no wind.  From the peak at 850 metres we looked across to Carrantuohill, and Binn Chaorach, we walked along the shoulder of Binn Chaorach, overlooking  Cumeengearagh Valley, over the col of Skegmore and down to Coomloughra, skirting the lake and Lough Eagher, back down the hydro path to the minibus, checking out rocks, observing and sighting birds, flowers, mosses, lichen, and more sheep!

 

May 2017

Birdwatch Ireland http://www.birdwatchireland.ie – established in 1968, they have over 15,000 members and supporters, and a local network of over 30 branches nationwide.

APPS

Iphone – All Birds UK – a Sunbird guide, professional nature apps €8.99

Android – Bird ID, British birds, Sunbird €3.99

The Hidden Life of Trees, What they feel, How they Communicate by Peter Wohlleben. You’ll never look at or think about a tree the same way again!

Irish Trees: Myths, legends and folklore by Niall MacCoitir

In ancient Ireland, mythology and folklore were part of the general knowledge about each tree. This book gathers together the myths, legends, folklore, and use, associated with native Irish trees.

http://www.irishwildflowers.ie – Irish wildflowers, with photo and details of over 800 native and introduced wildflowers found in Ireland

www.wildflowersofireland.net – Zoë Devlin’s website includes a chart of in-season flowers, folklore, herbal information, historical and literary associations.

Ireland’s Wild Plants: Myths, legends and folklore by Niall MacCoitir

Plants are described in seasonal order, with a history of herbs and traditional herbal medicine, folklore, the role of plants in magical protection, charms and spells, in place names and cures.

App: Download the Biodiversity Data Capture app where you can record your own nature observations, flora and fauna.

MEETING Thursday 4 th May from 7.30-8.30 pm. Oranmore Lodge Hotel. Waters & Communities Office of Galway. Public meeting to discuss the natural waters of Co Galway, presentation of the latest draft River Basin Management Plan by Catherine Seale, Community Waters Officer for Galway, discussion on water quality, angling, heritage, biodiversity, amenity use and issues.

April   2017

Tóchar, Walking Ireland’s ancient pilgrim paths, Darach MacDonald, ‘a personal odyssey along the paths of our fathers……….In the act of emptying the body, the soul opens for joy.’

Pilgrim Paths across Europe:

https://www.traildino.com/trace/continents-Europe/countries-Pilgrims_Ways#/Map;Trails

Spain

Apps:  Wise Pilgrim apps for all the Spanish Caminos:  francés, inglés, aragonés, del Norte, de la plata, portugués, primitivo, del Salvador, de Invierno.

http://www.caminosociety.ie   –  Ireland, pilgrim passports, information, news and events

http://www.csj.org.uk – Confraternity of Saint James, information, resources, advice, historical and cultural contexts, guide books, news, events.

Camino de Santiago St Jean – Roncesvalles – Santiago, John Brierley.  Highly recommended.

France

http://www.chemindecompostelle.com –  guides, practical advice, useful links, all you need to know

https://boutique.ffrandonnee.fr/topoguides   – guide books for all the GRs and Chemins in France

http://www.compostelle-bretagne.fr – guide books, practical information and lists of accommodation along the Breton chemins.   Similar resources for other regions

Italy

http://www.viefrancigene.org/en – walking and cycling paths, guide books, accommodation, useful links.

Germany

http://www.jakobsweg-pilgern.de/pilgern-deutschland    Piilgrim information, routes, pilgrim Pass, tips, equipment, links.

http://www.deutsche-jakobswege.de/wege-uebersicht.html

Cyclists:  http://www.eurovelo.com/en/eurovelos/eurovelo-6

EuroVelo 6:   4,400 km of cycle path from the Atlantic to the Black Sea.

March 2017

Report from the Mountaineering Ireland Spring Meet, Springhill Court Hotel, Kilkenny, 3-5th March 2017.  The Meet was hosted by Tyndall Mountain Club.

Pat Moran and Anne Brindley represented Galway Walking Club at the Meet.

Mountaineering Ireland’s vision is that Ireland’s mountain landscapes will be valued and protected as environmental, cultural and recreational assets.

Friday 3rd March, 14.00.  Jim Healy, Chairperson of Tyndall Mountain Club, led 18 of us from Bennettsbridge  upriver  to Kilkenny, along the banks of a mud-brown surging Nore, oozing onto its flood plain after the recent rains.  Entertaining us with local history, stories about the owners of the beautiful houses built  high up on the limestone and dolomite embankments, some famous, all of them industrious, involved,  in the past and/or  present,  in sawmills, stone-cutting, lime, leather moccasins, equestrian centres, pub-owners/hoteliers, grain mills.   Jim told us that the river path is managed by trailKilkenny under the Rural Recreation Scheme.  The scheme is state-funded under the Leader programme, in co-operation with local landowners, who may be paid up to €1000 to maintain their section of the path.

Friday evening:  After registration, Kevin Higgins, MI and Tyndall Mountain Club member, gave us a talk on ‘Ireland’s Neglected Heritage – Mountaineering’, the contribution Irish people have made to international mountaineering.

Saturday 4th March   There were 9 walks on offer from the challenging ‘Mount Leinster and Black Rock Mountain’,  to a visit to the Gardens at Woodstock and Inistoige.

9.00 am:  Environmental Officer Workshop:    This was chaired by Helen Lawless.  During the autumn of 2016, Mountaineering Ireland held six regional consultation meetings with representation from 48 affiliated clubs and a number of individual members, on the future vision for the uplands of Ireland.  For the majority of MI members the mountains represent ‘peace and quiet, natural beauty’.

What can we do, as a Walking Club, to celebrate Ireland’s mountains?

  • Respect our environment: leave no trace; stay on the path, wear gaiters, stepping off the path creates further erosion; hire a bus instead of driving to the departure point;  report erosion or damage to the landscape to Mountaineering Ireland, the NPWS, our County Council helpingthehills.ie
  • Respect the landowners (gates, fences, no dogs, etc)
  • Respect for other people who enjoy the same environment (anglers, cyclists, kayakers, etc)

11.00 am:  Departure by mini-bus for the Blackstairs Mountains Special Area of Conservation, with Dr Séamus O Murchú, an archaeologist from Co Carlow, who carried out his PhD research on the archaeological potential of the Irish uplands.  A great opportunity to learn how to ‘read’ and enjoy the landscape. See his  ‘archaeouplands’ blog,  https://archaeouplands.wordpress.com/

We started at Crannach Woods, looking at medieval ring forts, standing stones, Neolithic rock art, over Crannach Hill and the saddle between Stoolyen and Knockroe, down Shannon’s Lane.  Séamus  enthralled and entertained us with tales of princesses and witches, settlements, rituals, ceremonials, burials, and agricultural practices.

18.00:  Mountaineering Ireland Annual General Meeting

18.45:  Mountaineering Ireland’s Members’  Forum

Mountaineering Ireland’s vision (see top of page).  Their role may be seen as:

  • Engaging with policymakers
  • Working in collaboration with other interested parties
  • Celebrating the benefits of our mountains and our environment
  • Encouraging all to have respect for our uplands, and our environment.

A lively discussion followed on the age profile of the members, ideas are sought on how to recruit younger members.  One suggestion was to highlight the sporting and competitive aspect of hillwalking.   A second point of discussion was that 85% of the MI members are hillwalkers but that this was not reflected in the MI web page.

20.00 An excellent dinner in the Springhill Court Hotel restaurant.

February 2017

Our stomping grounds, Connemara and the Burren

Reflections on Another Life by Michael Viney,   A selection of his columns from the past forty years.  Author, inquisitive interpreter and chronicler of change in the environment, in wildlife,  in Co Mayo and beyond.

The Breathing Burren by  Gordon D’Arcy.  Environmental writer, author of natural history books, artist, educator, with a primary focus on the limestone landscape and habitat of the Burren.

Following on from Kev Reynolds’  talk in the Westwood Hotel,  among his 50 guides is ‘A Walk in the Clouds, 50 Years among the Mountains’.  A collection of 75 autobiographical short stories, highlights gathered from 50 years of mountain travel and adventures around the world.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is a national organisation that collates, manages, analyses and disseminates data on Ireland’s biodiversity                  http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/.

App: Download the Biodiversity Data Capture app where you can record your own nature observations, flora and fauna.

Natural & Human Heritages Spring Lunchtime Lecture Series (NUI Galway) in the Town Hall Theatre Studio         1.10 pm -1.50 pm

Friday 3rd February – Back from the Stone Age:  The place of Céide Fields in Irish prehistory.  Speaker:  Dr Andrew Whitefield

Friday 10th Feb – Fishing for consensus on Ireland’s salmon farms.  Speaker Dr Liam Carr

Friday 17 Feb – Climate change, prehistoric farming, soil loss, and the development of a karst landscape in western Ireland.  Speaker:  Dr Carleton Jones

Friday 24 Feb – Irish Winter Climates:  From storms to frost and back again. Speaker:  Dr Audrey Morley

Burren Beo – Burren Life Lecture:   Dr Brendan Dunford,  ‘The Burren – helping conserve a living landscape’,  at 8.00 pm, Thurs 9th Feb, Room T115 Mary Immaculate College Theatre block, Limerick.

https://burrenbeo.com

January 2017

The Lamentations of Zeno by Ilija Trojanow – a novel with a message about climate change, as it’s happening now.

Our Once and Future Planet by Paddy Woodworth, environmental monitor, columnist for the Irish Times, author of Dirty War, Clean Hands and The Basque CountryOur Once and Future Planet looks at ecological restoration across the planet. Our own Clonbur Woods, Co Galway feature on pages 175-179.

App to Report Environmental Complaint (free, iphone, Android) –    See it? Say it!   This app makes it easy to report environmental pollution with the GPS location, a photo and a summary description.   Or you can phone 1 850 365 121.

Eco Eye RTE 1 Tuesdays at 7.00 pm – investigating Ireland’s major environmental issues and why they are centrally important to public health, the economy and the quality of our lives.   @ecoeye

Mountaineering Ireland would like us to watch out for planning notices in upland areas, and  report on conservation issues.