Knockroe Mountain in the Blackstairs

Blackstairs Environmental Workshop

Blackstairs Mountains Saturday 4th March

Environmental Workshop

We still have spaces on Mountaineering Ireland’s Environmental Workshop taking place on Saturday 4th March in the Blackstairs. The overall aim of the day is to brief participants on Mountaineering Ireland’s current work on access and conservation matters. We will undertake a short hillwalk in the Blackstairs Mountains. It will also provide club representatives with an introduction to the historical features walkers and climbers may come across in the uplands. 

The Blackstairs - Environmental Workshop

The day will start in the Springhill Court Hotel, Kilkenny, from where we will have minibus transport to and from the Blackstairs. It’s set to be a fascinating day as we’ll be out on the hills with a Carlow archaeologist who has done research on the Blackstairs.

The Blacktstairs Mountains

The sites Seamus plans to bring us to are replicated in other upland areas all over the country. As a result the learning will be valuable even to all, including those who don’t normally walk in the Blackstairs. The first part of our day will include an update on Mountaineering Ireland’s access and conservation work. It will also include last Friday’s very welcome High Court judgement regarding the woman who sued Wicklow Mountains National Park for injuries sustained in a fall on the Wicklow Way.

Environmental control and protection is a huge part of our social responsibility. The natural environment provides us with the food and resources we need to survive and therefore it is clearly in our best interests to safeguard its continued health.

Mountain Meitheal

Mountain Meitheal is a group is of environmental volunteers who undertake conservation and restoration projects on mountain and forest tracks. These projects attempt to counteract some of the pressures that are evident in our upland areas.

This workshop is part of Mountaineering Ireland’s Spring Gathering, hosted this year by Tyndall Mountain Club. The Environmental Workshop itself is free of charge, as are the AGM and Members’ Forum. However we’d love to see participants stay on for dinner on Saturday evening as well as Sunday morning’s activities. If you are attending the Spring Gathering weekend, you can book this workshop by selecting ‘Club Environmental Officer’s Workshop’ as your Saturday Activity during the online booking and registration process (

If you want to attend this workshop without registering for the Gathering please email

Environmental Workshop Programme

Indoor Session (9.00 – 10.15am), Springhill Court Hotel

Introduction to the day, overview of Mountaineering Ireland’s current work on access and conservation, Q & A and brief discussion about the role of a Club Environmental Officer.

Field Trip (11.00am – 4.00pm) with archaeologist Séamus Ó Murchú

Our field trip will start in Crannagh, near the village of Rathanna and to the south west of Mount Leinster. We will walk up through forestry passing a medieval ringfort and a standing stone then out onto the open mountain. Further up the valley we’ll come to some rock art which is quite difficult to see and provides a nice contrast to another example we hope to see later in the day.

After an uphill stretch we will visit a neolithic portal tomb on Knockroe (see photo) then look at the remains of 19th century houses and fields and potato cultivation. Finally we will finish by walking down Shannon’s Lane which has links with the 1798 insurrection, and the site of a 1941 German bombing, as well as an interesting example of rock art discovered just 10 years ago in a stone wall.Over the course of the day we will explore life and death in the uplands covering topics like agriculture, settlement, ritual, burial, movement and folklore.

Much of our walk will be in the Blackstairs Mountains Special Area of Conservation. This is protected under EU legislation for wet heath and dry heath habitat. In addition to learning about archaeological features on the mountains we will also discuss the role that farming has played in shaping the upland landscape and how farming in these areas might evolve in the future.


We will return to Kilkenny by minibus with some time to spare before Mountaineering Ireland’s AGM (6.00pm). The members’ Forum is at 7.00pm and will have a focus on the importance of Ireland’s mountains. Also there will be a discussion on what Mountaineering Ireland members want to see for the future of these areas.

A little bit about Séamus

Séamus is a young archaeologist from Co. Carlow who carried out PhD research on the archaeological potential of the Irish uplands using the Blackstairs as a case study. Séamus maintains the ‘Archaeouplands’ blog and Facebook page.

Wicklow Mountains – Saturday 25th March

This is a joint event with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council.  Learn about the formation, flora, fauna and uses of Ireland’s blanket bogs. Learn also how your club members can help improve understanding of Ireland’s blanket bogs.

Donegal (Blue Stacks) – Saturday 8th April

This is a joint event with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council. Learn about the formation, flora, fauna and uses of Ireland’s blanket bogs. Learn also how your club members can help improve understanding of Ireland’s blanket bogs.

All three events are free of charge, for more information or to book a place please email or call 086 8046687.

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