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.
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.
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 Country. Our 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.