Friday, 20 May 2016

Day 30- Curlew Walk

Sorry it has been so long since the last post but time and internet connection together are rare and there always seems to be a lot of correspondence to catch up on too.  In summary, I've walked through Wales and am now in the Peak District - home territory. The rain is falling and the sky grey, unusual for me as I've had amazing weather for most of the time.
I have been trying to summarise how I felt about the last section of walking, and if you read my last blogs about Ireland you will have picked up a despair about the lack of public and political will to protect the nature of Ireland. That continues as I received an email this morning from a ranger saying the interim government will de-list another 46 peat bogs opening them to turf cutting. At least one has a pair of curlews on it.
It struck me that Ireland views its bog as something from a shameful past.  Ireland wants to move on and leave behind the "man of the bog" image of old, and step into a Europe without the old-country burden.  To be called "bog man" is an insult, it was a place where life was hard and the land poor.  The raised bog is a place to dump rubbish or chop up and throw in the fire.  Better to strip it, build new houses with immaculate lawns where old cottages used to be, and leave the past behind. Along with that attitude go the folktales and legends of the past too.  I found it hard to extract any old tales of the country, about curlews or anything else.  But an old priest in a home did tell me it was a shame to lose the bogs because when he was a parish priest They were great places to go out in the middle of and scream.
Another problem Ireland's wildlife faces is a lack of wildlife groups. In England we have organizations dedicated to butterflies, bees, mammals, trees, plants etc. They don't exist in S Ireland. So the people pressure is less and the ancient links to the past and the wisdom-filled tales about life disappearing.
Contrast that with West Wales which holds onto its past with a fierce grip and you have 2 very different mindsets.  West Wales is proud of being an outpost on the shores of  a changing world.  It wants to celebrate its mysticism as well as its language and Welsh is commonly heard.  And wildlife is woven through Welsh tales.  Of course I'm generalising to a huge degree, but the land is not just a resource but a place for souls to connect over time and through generations, passing on language, legends and a desire to never forget.
So a very brief summary of the difference I felt between Ireland and Wales.  So much more to say of course - but that will come later.  Next blog - England.


  1. Hi Mary, Well Done. Many Thanks for taking on this brave and timely pilgrimage for Curlew and the habitats they depend on. What a succinct and accurate insight into the dire situation for curlew in Ireland, from such a short time and meandering walk. The contrast you observe between the south of Ireland and west Wales is stunning, stark and equally sad.
    Lack of real care and pride in the natural world while Ireland the country is being marketed as so "green and natural"...artificial, superficial green, is such a difficult task to deal with and overcome. Keep up the great work...Here's to a great result.John

  2. Dear Mary. I am so saddened to read this. I fear perhaps you did not meet the right folk in Ireland. As a nature lover and writer that has also travelled extensively in Wales, and as a folklore lover that adores the curlew I would be incredibly keen to talk with you about your incredible journey. Do you have an email I can contact you on? Kerri (Derry)