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Guided walks to reclaim Galway City’s boreens and protect them from rezoning


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Guided walks to reclaim Galway City’s boreens and protect them from rezoning

From the Galway City Tribune – A new walking series seeking to reclaim the city’s boreens and protect them from rezoning is to get underway this weekend.

Each month, a guided walk along the boreens of Menlo, Coolough, Castlegar, Ballindooley, Carrowbrowne and elsewhere will seek to increase awareness of these small roads which organisers say are a “precious gift to the present and future generations from the rural dwellers of past centuries”.

One of those organisers is well-known environmental campaigner, Brendan Smith (pictured). He says a number of these trails are under threat as a result of rezoning in the City Development Plan – fuelled by the pursuit of unsustainable development.

“The walks are designed to highlight and safeguard a wonderful series of health-enhancing, biodiversity-rich country laneways that exist within the urban boundaries,” he says.

Plans that seek to eliminate these routes go against national planning policy, objectives, leave the city open to increased flooding and pollution, and reinforce urban sprawl which increases car dependency, continues Brendan.

He says the walks, which begin on March 5, will immerse participants in nature, while allowing them to enjoy the natural landscapes that surround them.

“Galway City is, in many ways, a nature walker’s paradise, possessing areas of tranquility within natural and countryside landscapes far from the noise and dangerous pollutions of one of Europe’s most traffic-congested cities.

“Every city in Ireland would love to have the natural resources and rural landscapes that we possess – namely the lakes, streams, wildflower meadows, bogs, forests and farmlands. No other city has a major river running through it that still retains the large green landscapes on either side.”

Covid had awakened many people’s awareness of their surrounds and given a deeper understanding of the importance of nature to mental and physical wellbeing, says Brendan.

“It meant that many Galway City dwellers discovered for the first time that they had attractive parks and country lanes in their locality. There is now a growing awareness of the social, educational and health benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.

“Scientific research shows that walking near woods, hedgerows and trees reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, increases energy levels, and boosts a person’s immune system and sense of wellbeing.”

The city needs development, he says, but it should be done in a sustainable manner that creates a city where people can live happily and healthily.

“Our city’s parks, boreens and waterways are the vital green arteries and blue veins that sustain the life of its human population.

“The people of Galway need to, as a matter of urgency, defend these natural resources and demand protection for these precious gifts from past generations,” says Brendan.

The series begins on Sunday, March 5, at 12pm when local heritage campaigner Paddy McDonagh will provide participants with information on the unique geology, flora and fauna found along a route which begins in front of the tennis courts at the Crestwood estate, taking in the Mass Path and continuing through hazel woods, pasture lands and leading into Coolough Village.

Coolough resident Gerry Daly will also give readings from his recently published book of poetry inspired by the local rural landscape. All are welcome to attend.

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