Walking and our Environment – Newsletters

May 2020

Galway Walking Club Geology Field Trip – We regret that we will have to postpone our field trip with Benjamin Thébaudeau, GeoPark geologist, until the autumn.

Wild Wednesday Webinars   https://burrenbeo.com/events/wild-wednesday-webinars-2/

Upcoming Wednesday topics in May:  Managing healthy habitats for livestock, Geology in the Burren, Making nature a priority in the farm business, The Burren in the Bronze Age.

National Botanic Gardens What’s happening in the garden and around us…… http://botanicgardens.ie/

National Gallery of Ireland:  Discover the mysterious and surprising qualities of plants that emerge from crumbling buildings, walls, cracks in pavements, on the edges of gardens and roads.  What is a weed?  A weed is, in its most simple definition, a plant out of place!

Galway County Heritage Office, Headford Environment Group. Walking Wildlife workshops ‘Nature on our Doorstep’ a film of six workshops held in 2019 on Sandybanks Lane, Headford, showing aspects of wildlife and flora. Filmed and edited by Marina Levitina.


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.  

Do a Flower-Insect Count (FIT)  https://pollinators.ie/record-pollinators/fit-count/.  Watch a 50x50com patch of flowers for 10 minutes and record how many insects visit, April-September.

  1. Wait for a good day, dry, warm.
    1. Find a location with target flowers e.g. buttercups, dandelions, hawthorn, bramble, lavender, heather, knapweed, ragwort, red and white clover, buddleja, thistle, ivy…
    1. Take a photo.
    1. Print out the recording form with information about the weather and your patch. recording form 


A Natural Year, by Michael Fewer. http://www.michaelfewer.com/  Galway Walking Club and other West of Ireland Clubs had the pleasure of a visit and talk from Michael Fewer in the days before Covid-19 changed our lives. Michael Fewer is the author of many walking guides, human and natural history books, children’s Naturama. ‘A Natural Year’ is a delightful read (and particularly while cocooning), providing us with a glimpse of  ‘the hidden natural world to be discovered in our immediate surroundings’, in this case in Co. Dublin, the Dublin Mountains, and in Co Waterford.  Illustrated and with photos by the author,  A Natural Year is available from https://irishacademicpress.ie/product/a-natural-year/.

Galway Walking Club Members’ Photo Quiz 1

Photo Quiz April 2020 Answer sheet

1.Oughterard loop     2.Doughruagh    3.Errisbeg Roundstone

4.Derryclare           5.Glann Road      6.Inishbofin

7.Turlough Hill              8.Quiet Man Bridge       9.Abbey Hill

10.Bencollaghduff-Binn Dubh 11.Benwee Head Co Mayo 

12.Croagh Patrick

With thanks to Gary, Peter, Mary and Pat.

Wish you were Where?  Name the place you see in each photo. There are 12 photos.

Number your answers in the correct order, 1-12.  Add in your name and mobile number, please.

Email your answers to


Closing date:   Tuesday 14th April 2020. 

The prize is an Easter egg which will be delivered sometime after Easter!  

Many thanks to Gary Johnston, Peter Leonard, Mary McCann, Pat Moran.

April 2020

Mountaineering Ireland – Covid-19 Update


MI request to us is to:

  • Stay at home
  • Stay off the hills and mountains
  • Avoid travelling for exercise

By doing this, we will all play our part in fighting against this national and global emergency and hopefully support the work of the health services. 

Galway Walking Club and Mountain Meitheal West stiles at Ben Lettery

Protecting access in Connemara and working with the local landowners, the local farmer and An Óige, on 5th October 2019, Galway Walking Club/Mountain Meitheal West members, Brian Coyne, John Smyth, Seán O’Donovan, Peter Leonard and John Casserly, constructed a brand-new stile at the An Oige Hostel at Ben Lettery (GR L77674830).

The upper stile at Ben Lettery has long been identified as being hazardous to walkers, with a 10 metre drop below the bottom step.  On a very wet day in March 2020, Galway Walking Club/ Mountain Meitheal West members, Brian Coyne, Seán O’Donovan, Peter Leonard, Michael Jennings and Anne Brindley moved the stile approximately 30 metres to the west, along the same fence.  The stile was carried using the stretcher-bearer method!  New wooden stabilising bars, non-slip tread on each step and a hand pole were fitted to make the stile safer and walker-friendly. (GR L77664851).   Bail ó Dhia ar an obair!

An Oige Ben Lettery stile October 2019
The Stile movers
Upper Ben Lettery stile March 2020


The Unofficial Countryside, by Richard Mabey.  This reading of the urban edge is as fresh today as when published in 1973, observing the habitats that have grown in the liminal lands created by our human needs, on the perimeters of industrial and housing estates, quarries, golf courses, sewage farms, urban parks.  Nature swiftly reasserts herself; plants, birds and insects thrive in these wastelands.

To Speak for the Trees, by Diana Beresford.  An interesting combination of Celtic wisdom, scientific knowledge and life experiences.  Diana Beresford also provides an annotation of the Ogham script, with letters named for trees and plants.

The Salt Path, by Raynor Winn.  A tale of courage, of enduring love, a social commentary.  Raynor and Moth Winn, undertake a 630-mile walk on the South West Coast Path, from Somerset to Dorset, after losing their home and business.

March 2020

Mountaineering Ireland Lecture Series
8.00 pm, Thursday 5th March at the Maldron Hotel, Headford Road, Galway.     

 ‘Fifty years Hillwalking in Ireland, France, Spain and Italy’ with Michael Fewer (www.michaelfewer.com), author of 13 books, including guides to Ireland’s way-marked trails, and of over 300 magazine articles.  Tickets can be purchased through the link on the MI website and Eventbrite https://www.mountaineering.ie/events/2013/default.aspx?iid=2315  €5 for MI members,  €10 non-members. Have your MI membership number ready for the ticket purchase and bring it to the talk.

Croagh Patrick Heritage Trail Festival – 13th, 14th and 15th March.  For further details https://croi.ie/tc-events/heritage-trail/   

Natural & Human Heritages Spring Lunchtime Series (School of Geography, Archaeology & Irish Studies, NUI Galway) TOWN HALL THEATRE, Thursdays 1.10 pm – 1.50 pm

Thursday 5th March:  Archives, a valuable cultural resource.  Speaker:  Patricia McWalter

Thursday 12th March:  Shaped by shock:  How abrupt climate change helped mould Galway’s landscapes.  Speaker:  Dr Gordon Bromley

Thursday 19th March:  Speculative imaginaries: Rethinking our relationship in the natural world.  Speaker:  Dr Nessa Cronin.

Thursday 26th March:  Some student days from UCG, 1920  Speaker:  Patrick Larkin.

Mountaineering Ireland Spring Gathering 2020 – 27th-29th March 2020

Location: The Avon, The Burgage, Burgage Mor, Blessington, Co. Wicklow  https://www.theavon.ie/

Hosted by the Wayfarers Hiking Club, 9 walks and Scrambling training on offer with the MI AGM taking place at 18.00 on Saturday 28th March. Click here for registration and further details


Click to access 202012917438_7d181282.pdf

New MI Irish Peaks Guide book, to be launched at the Spring Gathering in March.  Berna and Tom Reddington and Tom Rea have kindly given their time and expertise to proofread the 6 Connemara walks for MI.

Burrenbeo Learning Landscape Symposium 2020 – 20th-22nd March, Kinvara, Co. Galway

The event will bring together leading national and international specialists on the theme of how best to use our local places as a learning resource through different principles and practice in place-based learning. Featuring keynote speakers, workshops and fieldtrips, 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’.  Just €80 to attend/ €65 if a member of Burrenbeo Trust.   https://burrenbeo.com/our-work/learning/training-events/learning-landscape-symposium/ 

West of Ireland Hillwalking Clubs Forum. Following on from the MI Regional meeting last November, we would like to set up a communications network between Walking/Hillwalking Clubs in the West of Ireland with a view to sharing information, providing support and promoting events. With this in mind, we propose holding a meeting on: Date:  Wednesday 8th April    Time:  8.00 pm     Venue:  Menlo Park Hotel, Headford Road, Galway 

All Walking Clubs members welcome!

Women with Altitude Weekend – 15-17 May 2020.  The Falls Hotel Ennistymon Co Clare.

Booking on Eventbrite.  https://www.mountaineering.ie/events/2013/default.aspx?iid=2316

Mountain Skills, Navigation, Scrambling, Walking, Environment, Rock Climbing, Sea Cliff Climbing, Caving, Hill running, Lowland leading – all on offer over the weekend!

Geology Interactive Day for GWC members, Sat 23rd May with Ben Thébaudeau, Education Officer for the Geopark Project in Joyce Country & Western Lakes.  Based in Petersburg and open to all GWC members.  Please email annembrindley@gmail.com to reserve your place.

February 2020

Natural & Human Heritages Spring Lunchtime Series (School of Geography, Archaeology & Irish Studies, NUI Galway) TOWN HALL THEATRE, Thursdays 1.10 pm – 1.50 pm

Thursday 6th February:  The Dillon Family of Ahascragh, Co. Galway, Irish identities and the Clonbrock Photographic Collection, 1860s-1930s.  Speaker:  Una Kavanagh.

Thursday 13th February:  Back to the Future:  Renaissance Galway in the mid-seventeenth century.  Speaker:  Paul Walsh

Thursday 20th February:  Landscape and environmental history of Galway: prehistoric woodlands in the medieval city.  Speaker:  Dr Karen Molloy.

Thursday 27th February:   Genealogies of Irish dance in Galway, 1922 – 1992,  Speaker:  Dr Méabh Ní Fhuartáin.

Websites of interest

INFOMAR https://www.infomar.ie/   Ireland’s marine territory is 10 times greater than the land.  INFOMAR is a joint programme between the Geological Survey Ireland and the Marine Institute, surveying our unmapped marine territory and creating a range of integrated mapping products of the physical, chemical and biological features of the seabed.

CHERISH https://www.gsi.ie/en-ie/programmes-and-projects/marine-and-coastal-unit/projects/Pages/CHERISH.aspx   Climate, Heritage, and Environments of Reefs, Islands and Headlands is an EU ETC (Wales) programme, employing cutting-edge technology to analyse coastal and island archaeology and heritage sites most affected by climate change, coastal erosion, storminess and rising sea levels.

January 2020
Galway Walking Club 2020 Photo CompetitionTake the best photo, and 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 your photo.
o Submit in jpg format.
photo per person.
o Photos to be taken between 16th January and 1st October 2020 (last submission date).
o Submit to
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.

Natural & Human Heritages Spring Lunchtime Series (School of Geography, Archaeology & Irish Studies, NUI Galway) TOWN HALL THEATRE, Thursdays 1.10 pm – 1.50 pm.
Thursday 23rd January: G is for Gold, G is for Galway – the story of ancient goldwork in Galway. Speaker: Prof Mary Cahill
Thursday 30th January: Bog-deal, in Irish giúis: What is it? What does it tell us about past environments? Speaker: Prof. Michael O’Connell
https://irishuplandsforum.org/publications/ A Profile of Irish Uplands, An All-Island Study Highlighting their Strategic Importance’, by Dr Brendan O’Keeffe, Dr Caroline Crowley. An overview of the status of Ireland’s uplands across a broad range of indicators, natural science criteria, elevation, natural vegetation, land character, location, demographics, socio-economics. Our uplands are a significant national asset, investment in sustaining them is on our collective interest.

Dark Skies by Tiffany Francis. In search of night skies, Tiffany Francis explores the natural world, and particularly the idiosyncrasies of birds and birdsong: ‘ Ripe, silky notes floated through the air and out into the ether, the first symphony of the morning bursting from the dark feathered chest of a male blackbird.’

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