Every cloud has a silver lining. The sudden but inevitable demise of the building boom-based Celtic Tiger has meant that the greedy property speculators and so-called 'developers', supported by friends amongst the banking, political and civil service hierarchy, thankfully did not have the time required to bulldoze all of the Irish countryside and cover it with tarmac and concrete! Hence there is still much to enjoy in our legendary natural heritage even in the urban sprawl suburbia of Galway city.So once again, I am organising, as a joint Galway City Council/ Galway City Community Forum venture, a cycle tour of the stunning beautiful rural countryside of Galway City as part of Ireland's National Cycle Week.
The event will be a 4 hour leisurely cycle stroll through some of the most interesting historical scenic landscapes on the east side of the city. It will hopefully be a journey of discovery for many of its participants.We will ignore the hustle and bustle of housing estates, shopping centres and highways.Instead we will travel 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 an Choiste (Irish = Coach Road), I will bring participants through townlands whose ancient names reveal hidden landscapes and 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 will journey over hills, along botharins, past abandoned farm buildings, ruined castles, karst outcrops, bogs, lakes, dykes, turloughs and meadows.
We will stop off in Menlo to enjoy a picnic along the banks of the River Corrib.
To liven the journey up, I will recount tales of headless horsemen, ancient battles, haunted ruins, tragic drownings, lost gardens and of the great forests and the majestic wolves that once roamed the area.
Though I 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, particularly Cathy Joyce.
So I hope that Galwegians will take to their bicycles on Sun June 19th and enjoy the remaining vestiges of our once glorious natural environment, with its rich native flora and fauna.
For further information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Finally, the event is part of an ambitious programme by the Friends of Galway's Forests NGO and associated community environmental groups such as Castlegar Connect and Birdwatch Galway to map out over the next few months exciting new walking and cycling leisure routes through areas of rural ambiance and outstanding beauty that are located on the periphery of Galway city. It is hoped that this process will re-engage Irish people once again with Nature, protect biodiversity and ultimately ourselves as a species. Click here for further information on the development of eco-tourism in Galway city