Enjoying the Beautiful Green Rural Landscapes of Galway City
Recently I co-organised, on behalf of Galway City Council and the Galway City Community Forum, a cycle tour of the stunning beautiful rural countryside of Galway City as part of Ireland's first National Cycle Week.Entitled 'Off the Beaten Path' the event was actually a journey of discovery for many of its participants. For in spite of urban sprawl, construction of major busy four lane road systems, destruction of wildlife habitats, growing pollution and the economic collapse of Irish agriculture over the last few decades, there are still some very awe-inspiring lowly populated green landscapes lying within the boundaries of Galway city.We ignored the hustle and bustle of housing estates, shopping centres and highways.Instead we travelled along secondary roads to enjoy the sights and sounds of an increasingly threatened but none-the-less vibrant countryside dominated by small farms and natural features such as lakes and bogs.Commencing on Bóthar na Choiste (Irish = Coach Road), I brought participants through townlands whose ancient names reflect the respect that Irish people once had for Nature -Ballinfoile (Town of the ridge), Ballindooley (Town of the black lake), Killoughter (High Wood), Menlo (Small Lake), Coolough (Hollow at the base of the cliff)...
We travelled over hills, along botharins, past abandoned farms, ruined castles, karst outcrops, bogs, lakes, dykes, turloughs and meadows.
The trip included a picnic in the grounds of Menlo Castle.
To liven the journey up, I recounted tales of headless horsemen, ancient battles, haunted ruins, tragic drownings, lost gardens and of the great forests and the once proud wolves that once characterised the area.
Though I can have ongoing battles with City Hall over a myriad of community and environmental issues, nevertheless I can only heap praise on the city officials who contributed to the success of this event, namely Therese Carroll, Michael Forde and Cathy Joyce.
I enjoyed leading the trip so much that I am organising a similar excursion again on Sunday August 30th as part of Ireland's Heritage Week. But more importantly, the event has only made me even more determined to increase my efforts with local communities to protect the vestiges of our once glorious natural environment, with its rich native flora and fauna, from greedy developers so that future generations can enjoy Ireland's green beauty.