Mowing a Meadow-the traditional way

For the third year in succession volunteers are asked to participate in the mowing of a wildflower meadow using traditional hand-held implements. 

As part of the Galway Fringe Festival, starting at 10am on Sunday July 15th volunteers led by members of Cumann na bhFear(Men’s Shed Galway city) will use scythes to cut the long grass in a grassland of Terryland Forest Park near the Quincentenary Bridge. 

Since 2015, volunteers have planted thousands of the type of native Irish wildflowers that once light up the Irish countryside in a mosaic of colours in three former sterile lawns in Terryland Forest Park. Planting yellow cowslip, red poppy, purple clover, pink ragged robin and other plants has created what are known as 'meadows', which were in former times fields set aside by farmers for the growing of long grass which was cut during the late summer and autumn months to produce one or two crops of hay to serve as winter food for livestock. Because no chemical fertilizers were used, these meadows became important habitats for an array of colourful native wildflowers and would be alive with the sights and sounds of many varieties of bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinators. Our aim is to re-introduce meadows back unto the city and provide nectar-rich feeding havens for bees in particular which are in a serious decline worldwide due to industrialised monoculture farming, pesticides, habitat loss, pollution and climate change. Bees and other pollinators are essential to the survival of humanity as the plants that they help to reproduce are responsible for one-third of all foods and beverages that we consume. 
Scientific research in Britain is also showing that animals which graze on meadows of herbs, wild grasses and flowers eat far more minerals, amino acids and proteins are therefore a lot healthier. With their meat more nutritious, the benefits to consumers are obvious.

We hope that our actions will encourage other local community groups and schools nationwide to start re-establishing the meadows as a key part of Ireland’s countryside and natural heritage. 
Cumann na bhFear is also committed to preserving and re-educating the public in traditional Irish rural skills and crafts that still have an essential role to play in today’s farming because of their social, health, economic and environmental aspects.
So we are asking people to come along on Sunday next to take part in this ancient rural hay-cutting in action and to take part in planting nearly a thousand more wildflowers. Light refreshments will be provided to all volunteers.

Help Create a Bluebell Woods in Terryland Forest Park

The campaign to populate the Terryland Forest Park with tens of thousands of native wildflowers continues this Saturday when Conservation Volunteers Galway and Conservation Volunteers Terryland Forest Park, under the tutelage of Padraig Keirns, will plant thousands of native bluebells in the Sandyvale Lawn section of Ireland's largest community-initiated urban forest.
The aim of 'Operation Bláthanna' is to plant the wildflowers that will dramatically increase the biodiversity of this great natural resource.

Rediscovering the lost Green Tourism & Rural Trails of Galway city

What was promoted as a major tourist attraction for Galway city over 60 years ago and which campaigners hope could become a key legacy of Galway 2020 and a vital element in securing international ‘National City Park’ status, will be re-launched at 10am this Sunday (July 8th) when the public are asked to take part in a guided walk of a fascinating network of largely forgotten country lanes that stretches from Terryland via Coolough to Menlo. The starting point will be the “Plots” sports’ pitches at the Woodquay end of the Dyke Road.

What many people may not be aware of is that Galway has probably the most traditional rural landscape of any city in Europe. This is particularly true of the Dyke Road – Menlo catchment area that connects the wetlands of the River Corrib to the Terryland Forest Park as well as to the farmlands of Menlo and Castlegar by a way of a network of old rural tracks known as ‘boreens’ that formerly served as the transport arteries for the once largely farming population of the district up until the middle of the 20th century.
Living in such a large expanding urbanised built environment, Galwegians are extremely fortunate to still possess a wonderful diverse mix of natural landscapes with a mosaic of rural tracks and trails located within walking distance of the city centre.

“Modern medical science is increasingly showing the fundamental importance of wilderness to the physical and mental wellbeing of individuals and of societies. Urban planners across the world are now endeavouring to reconnect people with the rest of Nature by developing greenways, forests and waterways. Cities are also highlighting their ‘Green’ credentials in order to promote inward investment and tourism.

Yet promoting the ‘Green’ attractions of Galway to overseas visitors is not a new strategy. It was an approach that was there at the dawn of the city’s tourism sector. In 1952, capitalising on the worldwide success of the ‘Quiet Man’ film which provided opportunities for Connemara and the West of Ireland to become part of an international tourism market just recovering from the ravages of World War Two but which now offered cheap mass air travel for the American and European public, the city’s businesses mounted a very modern marketing drive. During this decade a regular newspaper called the ‘Western Tourist’, which was published by the Connacht Tribune, prominently featured the merits of walking from Terryland to Menlo. It stated “…The walk up by the Corrib through Terryland and onto the…Irish speaking village of Menlo is one of the loveliest and most interesting of all. Not only is the scenery most entrancing but every step of the road is paved with local history and folklore…” Sixty six years after it was first written this description is still valid.  As well as castles, farms, religious sites, pre-famine settlements and other built heritage assets, its boreen, meadow, woodland and riverine habitats have an abundant biodiversity that comprises thousands of wildlife species from native wildflowers such as the marsh woundwort to raptor birds such as kestrel, mammals such as the red squirrel, fresh water creatures such as shrimps and to small pollinators such as the white-tailed bee. 

Working with local residents and schools supported by environmental, heritage, community, health, scientific and educational organisations including NUI Galway, the HSE and the Galway City Partnership, we want to ensure that the rural landscape inherited from the past becomes a vibrant health and ecological resource for present and future generations. As well as the hub for this ambitious boreen trails network, the Dyke Road could become the starting point for the Connemara Greenway by rebuilding the bridge on top of the old railway pillars; the Corrib could become an ecological corridor of international importance for wildlife; the abandoned Waterworks could become a Forestry/Waterways interpretative centre complete with café, gallery, bike hire shop and Men’s Shed crafts workshop; and the Terryland Forest Park could be transformed into an Outdoor Classroom for schools of all levels. We are hoping that this becomes a legacy for City of Culture 2020.