Walking and our Environment – 2019 Newsletters

July 2019

Galway Walking Club Summer Photo Competition 2019

Are the photos you take on your GWC walks amazing?

Are they winning pics of landscape, waterscape, flora, fauna, people in the landscape, humorous?

GWC Summer Photo Competition gives you the opportunity to find out, and to win a PRIZE!

1st prize – €100 2nd prize €60 3rd prize €40

The Competition rules are:
o Photos must be taken on an official GWC walk in Ireland.
o Your name, the location and the date of each photo.
o Submit in jpg format.
o No Photoshopping of GWC Competition photos allowed.
o Maximum 3 photos per person.
o Photos to be taken between 29th June and 15th September 2019 (last submission date).

o Submit to gwcphotocomp@gmail.com .

Terms & Conditions

1. Only Galway Walking Club members are eligible.
2. Entrants to the competition warrant that the photograph they submit has been taken by the entrant on a GWC walk, that it is their own and that as owner they are fully entitled to use it for the purpose of the GWC Competition.
3. Where the photo submitted to the Competition contains any person or persons the Entrant warrants that those persons have given their permission for the photograph to be used in the Competition and on the GWC website and social media.
4. The decision of the panel to judge the photographs shall be final.
5. Entrants who provide false or misleading information will automatically be disqualified.

Reading: Walking, One step at a time, by Erling Kagge. A compilation of notes and observations from his experiences of walking to the North Pole, South Pole and conquering Everest, with plenty of literary references. Kagge is also the author of Silence in the Age of Noise.

St John’s Eve Bonfire night report
Sunday 23rd June. St John’s Eve bonfires were traditionally the focus of community festivities with music, dancing and young men jumping over the flames. On Sunday, rain put paid to the outdoor music and any hopes of flame-jumping in Maam Cross, the music took place indoors in Peacocke’s, and the planned walks involving 5 Walking Clubs, including Galway Walking Club, were shortened. Music by Don Stiffe, the Hernons, Cilín, sean-nós dancing, Cogar Céilí Band, and around the bonfire, Pyre Productions fire performers with Fíbín, followed by the amazing singing of Aimee Banks. The rain paused long enough to allow us to enjoy the spectacle!

Killary Fjord Shellfish visit report
GWC walkers headed out enthusiastically on the first 14km of the Killary loop in sunshine with a warm breeze rippling the waters of the fjord. Our destination was Killary Fjord Shellfish Co. where Simon and his daughter Constance took us out to the work boat, on a hectare of mussel lines, to see the working sea farm and 2 and a half year old mussels ready for harvesting. Then under a white awning, overlooking the fjord, Mweelrea and Ben Gorm, Kate took care of us with succulent oysters, followed by a dish of mussels with garlic, parsley, scallions, home-made brown bread and a chilled white wine. What a gorgeous day!

June 2019

Upcoming events:

St John’s Eve Bonfire night: Sunday 23rd June at Peacocke’s Maam Cross. Music, food stalls, dancing and street theatre from 8.00 pm with lighting of the Bonfire at 10.00 pm. If you wish to join the 4 km twilight walk at 8.00 pm (food stall meal ticket for walkers only) please contact annembrindley@gmail.com

Killary Fjord Shellfish Visit – Wednesday 26th June at 2.30 pm
A tour of the mussel farm on land and out at the longlines where the mussels are grown, followed by tasting of oysters and steamed shellfish. Farm visit usually lasts one and half hours, and time available to linger longer at the table and enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of the Fjord. A small glass of Guinness is included in the tasting. €25 per person. Contact: annembrindley@gmail.com

Shaping Ireland: Landscapes in Irish Art, in the National Gallery Dublin until July 7th. Curated by Donal Maguire, 250 years of Irish landscapes. The West is well represented by Paul Henry, Grace Henry, Roderic O’Conor, Dorothy Cross, Niamh O’Malley, John Piper, Sean Scully’s 24 black and white ‘Aran’ stone wall photographs, Gerard Dillon, George Petrie’s Aran Islands in 1827, the Killaries in 1888 by Bartholomew Colles, and Leenane by James Craig in the 1920s.

May events reports

Women with Altitude MI weekend in Killary Adventure Centre, 17-19 May. With stunning views the length of the fjord, Killary Adventure Centre buzzed with energy all weekend, as 76 young, and mature, women took on challenges in rock-climbing, scrambling, navigation, trail running, multipitch climbing, lowland leadership, hillwalking and environmental discovery. Michelle Hughes (hillwalking tour guide, energy medicine practitioner) welcomed us with a photographic presentation of Connemara. Ursula MacPherson recounted her life of amazing adventures, and between the multi-activities we met and mingled.

Our GWC Walk Leaders, Berna Reddington and Mary Murphy on the Killary ramble, Patricia Fleming and Jacqui O’Dowd on Leenaun Hill, were ambassadresses for GWC and the West of Ireland.

Bernie Healy on her scrambling activity: ‘Great fun, great weather, our instructor was very knowledgeable and helpful. All our equipment was provided.’

Valerie Greaney on her rock-climbing activity: ‘Thrilling, really well organised, with four great instructors for 8 participants’.

Anne Brindley: ‘Navigation 1, from Lettershanbally to Gleniska and back by Sruthanmore River, looking at mountains and contours, spot heights, re-entrants, spurs, cols and knolls, Michelle Hughes pushed us, gently, to hone our skills on judging distance, features, pacing, timing, and then referring to our maps, adding multi dimensions to our walks.’

‘Environmental walk: Trish Walsh and Helen Lawless led 14 of us up to the col east of Cnoc na Fuaiche, and along the spur back to Leenane, talking about moraine and conglomerates, the impact of overgrazing and loss of vegetation, spotting a sunbathing lizard, tormentil, sundew, campylopus, cladonia ‘matchsticks’, heath milkwort, molinia. Our bog is a museum, conserving layers and layers of our past.’

Mountaineering Ireland Environment Weekend, 24-26th May in the OEC Petersburg, and All Saints Heritage Centre Clonbur. An activity and info packed weekend with time for socialising with hillwalkers from all over Ireland.

Our ‘Ecology of Mountains’ weekend started with a taster walk in Clonbur Woods, led by Trish Walsh (Director of the OEC, Petersburg) and Helen Lawless (Access & Conservation Officer, MI). Standing on the wide limestone pavement, scattered with egg box pits (created by water splashes), ‘röhrenkarren’ or tubular erosion, large limestone chunks and rounded sandstones, we heard of the Cong Canal, a proposed link between Lough Mask and Lough Corrib, started in 1848 but abandoned in 1854. Clonbur woodlands offer numerous trails to walkers, under a soft canopy of beech, ash, hazel, birch, Scots pine and willow.

Looking forward to the status of UNESCO Global Geopark, Ben Thébaudeau, resident geologist, gave us an informative overview of Global Geoparks and the future Joyce Country & Western Lakes Geopark, followed by Trish Walsh with an intro to the Ecology of Joyce Country in all its beauty.

Saturday 25th May: 9.00am: Dr Rory Hudd, botanist and ecologist, introduced us, comfortably seated in the OEC, to the habitats of our lowlands and uplands.

10.00 am: Out into the field and up the deep valley of Maumtrasna, (682m peak in the Partrey Mountains) a sandstone and pebbly conglomerate; traces of iron oxide. Under Rory’s guidance and with Orla Prendergast of GMIT Mayo, Trish and Donal of the OEC, we plant-spotted on the river banks and in the grasses, heath milkwort, lousewort, tormentil, sundew, mat grass and heath rush, a splendid royal fern and dog violet close to a starry saxifrage, liverwort, butterwort, St Patrick’s cabbage, Marsh St John’s wort, and the seaweed-like moss, fontinalis; skylarks and meadow pipets swooped and parachuted; lizards and beetles scuttled. A steep climb up into the mist, along the wide plateau by the wall and down the south spur.

A good dinner in Eddie Lynch’s Fairhill House Hotel in Clonbur, was followed by a presentation by John Smyth, Meitheal West Chairperson and Galway Walking Club member, on the first year in action of Meitheal West, on the Blackhead Loop in Co. Clare and now on the Máiméan path to the pass. Helen Lawless outlined her role and remit as the Access & Conservation Officer in MI. Only 6% of Irish uplands are over 300m and 80% of our water is sourced in our uplands. Our bogs are the best of all carbon sinks. Irene O’Brien, presented her life as a Conservation Officer with the NPWS in North-west Mayo. She then shared her passion for birds of prey, the peregrine, kestrel, merlin and the endangered hen harrier.

Sunday 26th May: A real treat to meet Spot, expert Border Collie sheepdog with Joe Joyce in charge, beside Lough Nafooey. Joe talked about his 15 years with Border Collies as an upland sheep farmer, and gave us a demo with Spot on rounding up and moving sheep across a field. With his 4 commands and pertinent whistles, he and Spot can work 400 metres apart in the uplands. Alas, take note, the upland sheep farmer is on the endangered list too.

With Trish, Orla and Donal as guides, we headed for Finny and to a cillín, where unbaptised children were buried in a place close to the sky and the next world, then to a small rock with the kneeprint of St Patrick. From there we headed off to examine a Bronze Age fulacht fiadh, and the remains of a stone fort commanding the slopes and valleys around Finny Hill. We are on igneous rock here, basalt with examples of pillow lava with green and red jasper, chert and flint, all excellent for tools. Along the way we noted tormentil, celandine, creeping jenny, pimpernel, great butterwort, milkwort, liverwort, heath spotted-orchid, and gnarled, lichened hawthorn trees, while Trish told us tales, many of which go back to the fairies or the saints!

May 2019

Banff Mountain Film Festival, https://tht.ie/3095/banff-mountain-film-festival-world-tour

Monday 13th May at 19.30 in the THT Galway.

Women with Altitude Weekend http://www.womenwithaltitude.ie/ 17th-19th May 2019

Meeting, walking, talking, sharing experiences in Killary Connemara.

Killary Fjord Shellfish Visit – Wednesday 26th June at 2.30 pm

Tasting tour is €25 per person and includes tour of the farm on land and out at the longlines where the mussels are grown, followed by tasting of oysters and steamed shellfish tasting. Farm visit usually lasts one and half hours, and time available to linger longer at the table and enjoy the atmosphere and beauty of the Fjord. A little glass of Guinness is included in the tasting.

Contact annembrindley@gmail.com

Mountain Meitheal West AGM report by Caoilfionn Moorhead

Mountain Meitheal West was established in April 2018 and had its first work day out on The Blackhead Loop Trail in The Burren, County Clare in May. The work we accomplished on this track included laying down a suitable/sustainable path, using rocks and gravel, which had previously been impassable due to wet mucky conditions, and also cutting back brambles and branches jutting out that might cause injury to walkers/cyclists.

In November, we moved to Máméan, Connemara, where we have commenced work on the path way that leads up the valley. Our mission here is to improve the path so that rain water flows off and makes the path easy to navigate. We will likely remain at Máméan for the next few months.
For further info and to join MMW, email mountainmeithealwest@gmail.com

MMW 2019 Committee:
Seán O’Donovan (Chairperson)
Patricia Fleming (Public Relations Officer)
John Smyth (Treasurer)
Caoilfionn Moorhead (Secretary)

All Ireland Pollinator Plan http://pollinators.ie One third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction due to a drastically reduced amount of food (flowers) and safe nesting sites in our landscapes. The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is about all of us, from farmers to local authorities, to schools, gardeners and businesses, coming together to try to create an Ireland where pollinators can survive and thrive.

The State of Ireland’s Bees: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/The-state-of-Irelands-Bees.pdf

Attracting bees to your garden. An extensive list of bee-friendly winter, spring, summer and autumn plants and trees for the garden: http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Pollinator-friendly-planting-code-temporary-draft.pdf

April 2019
Mountains on stage Film Festival (skiing, alpinism, climbing). Wednesday 10th April in the Eye Cinema. https://www.mountainsonstage.com/programme

Women with Altitude Event, 17-19th May, Killary. Book now http://www.womenwithaltitude.ie
Established in 2011, this initiative promotes and facilitates women’s participation by providing support with skills training and leadership development, inspirational role models and opportunities to network.

Reporting on Galway Walking Club Talks evening 8th March in Menlo Park Hotel with

Miko Keane on Denali Alaska and Mt Manaslu Nepal,

In 2016, Miko undertook a gruelling, ice and snow-covered climb of Denali in Alaska. Carrying backpacks laden with tents and equipment, encountering terrible weather conditions and temperatures from 20 to 30 below, overcoming altitude sickness and pain, he reached the peak at 6400m. ‘It was a team effort, we all pulled together’.

In 2018, Miko undertook the steeper challenge of Mt Manaslu, Nepal. A 7-day trek from base camp at 4700m, initially through forests and mountain villages, then onto a roped-pinned ice and snow path upwards, over crevasses, along a narrow vertiginous track, Mike and his climbing companions reached the tiny made-for-two-people summit at 8153m, and unfurled the Irish flag against a stunning blue sky.

‘Once you’re clipped onto the line, you’re like a fish on the hook. Believe and trust in yourself and the team’. Miko assured us we could do it too. Bravo Miko, we are proud of you and wish you all the best on your challenge of the big one, Everest

Rory Sherlock, Mountain Rescue Ireland

Rory Sherlock’s team is our lifeline when we need one. Predominantly covering Connemara and Clare, with 15-20 call-outs a year, the afternoon is the high frequency time, with peak activity on Saturdays, and during the months of April and August. Lower limb fractures are the most common injury, followed by head injuries and medical issues. ECAS, the Emergency Call-out service is now based in the new Garda headquarters in Renmore and serves the west of Ireland from Galway to Donegal.

MRI is always looking for volunteers for their bag-packing fundraising days.

SAVE THE DATE: An MRI Howl at the Moon moonlight walk will take place on Saturday 12th October 2019.

Burrenbeo Learning Landscape Symposium, 10th March:

A thought-provoking woodland walk with Paddy Woodworth (environmentalist, journalist, author of Our Once and Future Planet) and Craig Bullock (environmentalist-economist) on the topic of Natural Capital:

‘We use nature because it is valuable. We lose it because it is free.’ (Pavan Sukhdev, special adviser to the UN environment programme’s green economy initiative and study leader for TEEB, The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity – http://www.teebweb.org, a global initiative focused on ‘making nature’s values visible’).

What is natural capital? The elements of nature that produce value – directly and indirectly – to people, such as the stocks of forests, rivers, soil, minerals and oceans.

Check out the Irish Forum on Natural Capital http://www.naturalcapitalireland.com

And under Woodlands of Ireland, https://www.woodlandsofireland.com The Natural Capital Value of Native Woodland in Ireland by Craig Bullock, Jerry Hawe; provisioning (fuel, food, human use), regulating (climate, carbon sequestration, pollination, water filter, soil stability, flood mitigation), cultural (physical/mental/emotional health, aesthetic, spiritual, social, recreational, educational).

Mountaineering Ireland AGM 30th March 2019, Sports HQ Blanchardstown, Dublin – Report

Paul Barron (Chair), Paul Kellagher (President), Murrough McDonagh (CEO) addressed the meeting. Honorary membership was awarded to Patrick O’Sullivan for his long service and valuable contribution to MI over many years.

10 aspirant Walking Clubs were elected to Mountaineering Ireland.

The 2018 Financial Statement was approved.

There are 13,000 MI members, 10,000 are Club members, 3,000 individual members. 60% of the members are hillwalkers, the remaining 40% are climbers, bouldering members and low walkers.

The motion to increase the sub to MI to €35 was proposed by Simon Walsh, MI Board. It has been 14 years since the last increase. Insurance for members and operating costs have increased. The objectives are to clear the deficit and to increase development activities which they hope to achieve in 2020. There is also a strategic plan to increase membership.

The motion was passed with 32 for, 2 against.

The AGM was followed by the Members’ Forum.

March 2019

Mountaineering Ireland AGM – Saturday 30th March. Registration and refreshments at 1.30 pm. AGM and Members’ Forum at 2.00pm. Venue: Mountaineering Ireland Head Office, Irish Sports HQ, National Sports Campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. Members are invited to put forward motions for discussion at the AGM, through the Club Secretary, before 1st March.

Mountain Meitheal West. ‘Giving back!’ Reflecting on times when we walk a trail and find that it is mucky, slippery, impassable or eroding. For every seven times you walk, consider giving one day of maintenance. Join Mountain Meitheal West on Máméan on Saturday 30th March and the last Saturday of every month in 2019. For more info, email mountainmeithealwest@gmail.com

Learning Landscape Symposium 8th-10th March 2019 Burrenbeo Trust https://burrenbeo.com/our-work/learning/training-events/learning-landscape-symposium The symposium will investigate ways to use local resources to make learning a richer, more exciting and rewarding educational experience, as well as an opportunity to network with individuals that work in same sector. All situated in Kinvara and the Burren, the ultimate ‘outdoor classroom’. €80 to attend/ €65 if a member of Burrenbeo Trust.

School of Geography and Archaeology NUI Galway Spring Lunchtime Lecture Series 2019
The Studio, Town Hall Theatre Time: 1.10 -1.50 pm.

Thursday 7th March: Acknowledging the human side of farm succession and land mobility in later life: A roadmap for future generational renewal in agricultural policy. Speaker: Dr Shane Conway

Thursday 14th March: Elite settlement in North Roscommon, 1100-1350 Speaker: Dr Kieran O’Connor

Women with Altitude Event, 17-19th May, Killary. Book now http://www.womenwithaltitude.ie
Established in 2011, this initiative promotes and facilitate women’s participation by providing support with skills training and leadership development, inspirational role models and opportunities to network.

February 2019

School of Geography and Archaeology NUI Galway Spring Lunchtime Lecture Series 2019

The Studio, Town Hall Theatre, Time: 1.10 -1.50 pm.

Thurs 7th February: Between North and South, East and West. Prehistoric Connections and Transitions in Co. Roscommon. Speaker: Dr Carleton Jones.

Thurs 14th February: China and Global Value Chains in the Trump Era. Speaker: Professor Séamus Grimes.

Thurs 21st February: Gaelic Learned Family Settlements and Lifeways, 1200-1600 AD. Speaker: Professor Elizabeth Fitzpatrick.

Thurs 28th February: What’s Left to Do with Bogs? The History and Future of Irish Peatlands. Speaker: Dr Terry Morley.

Devon Park, Lower Salthill, Galway. ‘Devon Park – Where It All Began’ is a publication compiled by a number of residents of the area, including Galway Walking Club member, Mary Fahey, with stories and photographs dating from the 1930s and right up to more recent times. The publication was launched in December 2018. Lower Salthill is situated on the south west side of Galway city. Once part of the O’Hara family’s Lenaboy Estate at Taylor’s Hill, the lands extended over 239 acres from Taylor’s Hill and swept down towards the sea through Devon Park and Lenaboy Park. A wall was built around the estate, sections of which can be seen still along Taylor’s Hill and Lower Salthill near ‘Nile Lodge’ house. The development of houses in the Devon Park housing estate began in the early 1930s. ‘Devon Park – Where It All Began’ is available at Charlie Byrne’s and Kenny Books, Liosbaun Industrial Estate or http://www.kennys.ie.

Mountaineering Ireland – OUR MOUNTAIN ENVIRONMENT – Ireland has very little mountain land (less than 6% of our land area is above 300m and just 0.35% is above 600m). These areas are under pressure from a range of sources – changes in agricultural practice, renewable energy development, tourism development, climate change and increased recreational activity. As people who rely upon Ireland’s mountain environment for our recreation activities, we have a responsibility to be a voice for the protection of these special places.

Useful resources: • Protect Ireland’s mountains – short video about why Ireland’s mountains are important – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZFtC5SuS6I

• Walking With Wildlife – leaflet with information on common flora and fauna species found in Ireland’s upland areas – http://www.mountaineering.ie/_files/2014716152223_a2b48d00.pdf

January 2019

School of Geography and Archaeology NUI Galway Spring Lunchtime Lecture Series 2019
The Studio, Town Hall Theatre. Time: 1.10 -1.50 pm.

Thurs 24th January: Drones in Archaeology, Current Technology and Future Perspectives. This lecture will examine the current range of uses and the emerging technologies being applied to the discipline of archaeology. Speaker: Dr Paul Naessens

Thurs 31st January: State Supported Segregation? Examining School Choice and Migrant Clustering in Schools. This research examines how school enrolment policy and/or school choice has the potential to become instrumental in the creation of an ethnically segregated school system in Ireland. Speaker: Dr Valerie Ledwith.

Have your say on how we care for and enjoy Ireland’s natural and built heritage. The Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht is seeking feedback on a new national heritage plan – Heritage Ireland 2030. The vision in the plan is simple – that our heritage will be valued and protected. There’s a lot of potential in developing this new plan to strengthen the connections between people and our landscapes and natural heritage. Submit your views on how to deliver the vision, and your suggested actions using the link below. If you have suggestions that are relevant to the interests of hillwalkers and climbers please post below or email them to helen@mountaineering.ie for consideration in Mountaineering Ireland’s response to the consultation. See https://www.chg.gov.ie/heritage/heritageireland2030/?fbclid=IwAR1aCykhLueTfl0aDwtF7V3MFj77slLXnqm84jT_wpVd1sA6cTltJu9SuTg


Actions to help pollinators http://pollinators.ie/app/uploads/2018/04/Gardens_actions-to-help-pollinators-2018-WEB.pdf


Meitheal Ireland. http://mountainmeitheal.ie Our footprint has consequences. Get out, get dirty and give back! Join meitheal.west@gmail.com

Burrenbeo Trust is a landscape charity dedicated to connecting all of us to our places and our role in caring for them. https://burrenbeo.com

Galway city branch of Conservation Volunteers Ireland, working in public parks and woodlands. Contact cvgalway@gmail.com for notice before each activity. https://www.facebook.com/ConservationVolunteersGalway @ConservationVolunteersGalway

Bird Watch Ireland http://www.birdwatchireland.ie @BirdWatchIE

Irish Whales and Dolphin Group http://www.iwdg.ie

Bat Conservation Ireland http://www.batconservationireland.org

National Parks and Wildlife Service Ireland – https://www.npws.ie/national-parks National Parks, Protected sites, Nature reserves, Maps and data, Planning