First Foraging Workshop April 12th 2015

I am writing this as the sky darkens, birds fall silent and it looks like night time here in the Blackstairs. March  20th, the morning of the partial solar eclipse. It does look peculiar out there! However  despite the darkness we are kicking off our Spring season with lots of events here at our Eco Centre. Our first  Foraging Workshop of the year takes place on April 12th. It’s a Sunday. Start time 10.30 and we finish at 4 pm. The day includes lots of foraging, cooking up, recipes, tastings and lots more. We will also have a 3 course organic lunch for our guests and time to get  an understanding of wild safe food and the thrill of foraging for delicious treats in the countryside.



There is no doubt that Spring is here. Birds are nesting, lots of new growth pushing up, trees are in bud if not in leaf and the whole glorious awakening of the earth is just around the corner. We follow our Foraging Workshop with our Celtic Tree Trail. Our ancestors loved trees and we will tell you the story of the Ogham Alphabet, the lore, life and folklore of our Celtic Trees. The first trail starts on Sunday April 19th. This is suitable for all the family. We have a full event calendar on our website , just click the Event Calendar button and you can see what we have lined up for you.


A quick look around the garden this morning and I saw plenty of wild garlic up, nettles beginning to  show ,lovely for a Spring tonic and Nettle Soup and lots of sorrel which is great for salads and rice dishes. The Celandine with its lovely yellow petals – see photo above – is everywhere now. A Grey Wagtail  was drinking from the stream in the Rose Garden and the rooks are building in the Beech trees. There is a lot of activity out there!. We very much look forward to welcoming our guests whether it is for an Eco Trail, Foraging, Wild Mushroom Hunts or Wild Herbal Workshops. It’s a great wild world here in the Blackstairs!

Chopping at Foraging Workshop 2014


Robert Lloyd Praeger – The Great Irish Nature Writer

We often refer to Robert Lloyd Praeger, one of Ireland’s great naturalists who knew the Blackstairs area well. You may be interested in his book that was published in 1937 The Way That I went 

Robert Lloyd Praeger (1865 – 1953)

robert lloyd praeger blackstairs eco trails
Robert Lloyd Prager was one of Ireland’s leading naturalists and nature writers. He was given the gold medal of the Royal Horticultural Society on two occasions and later became its president. He was elected President of the Royal Irish Academy, the British Ecological Society, the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, the Geographical Society of Ireland and the Bibliographical Society of Ireland, and he was first President of the Library Association of Ireland. An honorary doctorate was conferred on him by Queen’s University, Belfast, Trinity College, Dublin, and the National University of Ireland. He was elected an Associate of the Linnaean Society of London, was an honorary life member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles and in 1948 was first President of the National Trust for Ireland – An Taisce.

robert lloyd praeger book

The Way That I went (1937) ~ this enduring celebration of the Irish landscape is the result of Praeger’s five years of weekends spent walking an amazing 5000 miles across Ireland’s hills and bogs, swimming through flooded caverns, staying out all night on islands, sifting fossil bones and exploring cattle-tramped tombs. That was when conservation was still in the future, farmers welcomed rambling strangers, bogs were intact, bungalows, cars, ESB poles and chain saws were absent, and the countryside was largely tourist-free. Preaeger was not simply a botanist but, according to Bellamy, also a geologist, zoologist, archaeologist, Irish Naturalist Optimus Omnium. His journey began in Donegal and ended in Kerry.

New Walking and Eco Tourism Centre at Blackstairs Ecotrails

About one hour ago we heard that we had got planning permission to develop our lovely old barn into a dedicated walking and Eco Tourism Centre. We are so delighted to get this news because it will  enable us to welcome more walkers to Killedmond, host even more workshops and hold seminars and small conferences in a  lovely building looking out over the Blackstairs Mountains.

We hope to begin work over the next few weeks and we look forward to a grand opening when the last stone is in place, and we have kitted out our lovely old barn  with comfy sofas and long tables to examine our wild flowers and herbs, cook up wild fungi and demonstrate how to make jams, jellies and chutneys. As our home is a protected structure ,the barn has to be developed  sensitively; retaining old beams, lime wash on the walls and keeping the beautiful old windows and doors. It will be a great place to entertain our visitors and walkers.



The Old Rectory, Killedmond, Borris, Co. Carlow

But in the meantime our walkers can still enjoy the lovely ambience of our home  at the Old Rectory before we set out on our walks -along the river Barrow or through the lovely green lanes in the foothills of the Blackstairs. Walking in this part of South Carlow is slow relaxing, unhurried and filled with the secret life of the Blackstairs; otters on the river, hawks and  kestrels in the hills; dainty wild flowers in spring and all the lore and  majesty of  our Celtic trees ready to be explored. Take a look at our calendar of events on the web site and come and join us for an unhurried walk through this hidden part of Co.Carlow.

A New Year ,New Events, New Trails, New Workshops

It’s all go here at Blackstairs Ecotrails as we salute the New Year and plan our calendar of events for you. I hope it’s a  Happy and Healthy New Year and that you will be able to get out into the great outdoors in this unique little corner in the South East of Ireland, tucked under the Blackstairs and close to the marvellous River Barrow.

This is what we have planned for you up to the  middle of April

Saturday February  23rd at 12 Noon  – End at 4 pm


1st Foraging Workshop of 2013 . We will lead you on a dazzling food for free adventure deep into the woods to discover dainty salad leaves, wild garlic, emerging edible shoots and lots, lots more.

Workshop suitable for for wild food enthusiasts, foragers and lovers of the great outdoors.

Price €45 which includes  refreshments at  the start and a delicious Afternoon Tea after our forage.


Saturday March 2nd at 12 Noon – End at 4 pm


A  leisurely stroll through beautiful broadleaf woods watching for the signs of Spring, leaf shoots, buds, bird song, animal activity  mosses, lichens and lots lots more.

Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious Afternoon Tea after our walk.

Suitable for children. Well behaved dogs on leads welcome. Children €5.


Saturday March 16th at 12 Noon – End 4pm


We will take you on a stroll through the foothills of the Blackstairs showing you where our Irish birds nest, their song and habitat.

This walk suitable for  all interested in the environment, primary schoolteachers and visitors to our area.

Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious Afternoon Tea after our walk. Children €5

Saturday 23rd March at 12 Noon – End 4 pm
A walk along green roads with moss-covered granite walls and tumbling mountain rivers. On our walk  we will help you identify wild flowers, and tell you about the powerful secrets of our wild herbs.
This walk suitable for lovers of botany, those with an interest in wild flowers and herbs and herbal students. Also suitable for primary school teachers and visitors.
Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious afternoon tea after our walk

Saturday 30th March at 12 Noon – End 4 pm


2nd Foraging Workshop. On this walk we will discover lots of edible plants, leaves and delicacies as Spring advances though the Blackstairs and the Barrow Valley area. We will pick what we can , bring all back to Killedmond, cook it up and then eat it. Delicious!

This workshop suitable for foodies, primary school teachers, survive in the wild enthusiasts and  all who are interested in food for free.

Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious afternoon tea after our walk.


Saturday April 6th at 12 Noon – End 4 pm

Survive in the Wild! Family Day out!

On our walk we will teach you how to survive in the wild by eating safe wild food. Delicious greens, garlic,  salads and lots more. Suitable for a family day out, children over 8 , primary school teachers and wannabe Crocodile Dundees!

Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious afternoon tea after our walk. Children €5.


Saturday April 13th at 12 Noon – End 4pm

Celtic Trees – Lore and Mythology

We will show you some magnificent ancient Irish trees, talk about our indigenous species, their lore and mythology. We will  talk about the Celtic Tree Alphabet and learn more about the myths of trees in Irish History.

This walk suitable for lovers of trees, woods and their lore. Also for primary school teachers, visitors and all interested in our Celtic past.

Price €45 which includes refreshments at the start and a delicious afternoon tea after our walk.

Suitable for children. Children €5


Our regular walks   every Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays( outside the above date)s all €35. Includes Afternoon Tea at end of all walks.

Well behaved dogs on leads welcome.