Volunteer Youth Ranger Programme 2019 - Days 7 & 8
Update published on: July 25, 2019
Day 7 – Bracken bashing and hill walking
We went up the mountain where we had last done bracken bashing. Most didn’t want to bracken bash again but we finished after and hour and had a break. [They valiantly worked on to finish the work the rain prevented us from completing on day 2; which is preparation for a guided Lúnasa Festival hike telling the story of the famine wall and those who built it.]
We climbed up to the summit of Slieve Gullion having lunch on the way. We reached the pile of stones on the top [passage grave] and visited the tomb underneath. We could see miles in every direction. We climbed down and reached the car park. Dáire and John went to collect the van while the rest of us litter picked around the car park. John picked us up and we went back to the main forest park.
Day 8 – Litter survey & end of programme party
Our first activity for the day was to make bird-feeders and compost pots. This was fun; the bird-feeders job was very messy, as we had to mush together vegetable fat and seeds, and the compost pots were made of newspapers, cress seeds and compost. The bus journey to Tí Chulainn was good banter as usual; once we arrived at the tree nursery, we were briefed by Alison and John about the next stage of the day.
We were all to walk around the local river in Mullaghbane and retrieve litter that people have discarded along the path or the riverbank. This time, we were to also record what type of litter we would find, for the purpose of the ‘litter survey’ Alison required. We were split into two teams: one team carried out the task on one side of the river-path, the other team did the other side. There were different litter pickers circulating: eight foot, six foot or the normal sized ones. It was a long process, as there was LOTS of litter to pick up. In the litter survey, I think it was fairly obvious that the main culprit was… sweetie wrappers!. It was fairly tiring, constantly picking up the rubbish left behind by other people; however, the feeling of success was great when we saw the good we had done for the path, and also the community!
It was lunch when we came back to the tree nursery, and we had our farewell leaving party (or could also be referenced as the ‘stuffing of our faces’) with lots of delicious goodies that everyone brought in. Anna outshone us all once again, by baking a cake and scribing everyone’s names on the EDGES (not corners, as it was a circle cake. I had to learn the hard way.) The sun was shining and it was a lovely atmosphere, all of us felt grateful for the memories we’ve made, but sad that we would part soon.
After lunch though, the work didn’t stop. A couple of us went down to the river, accompanied by Alison, and hung up posters drawn by pupils at St. Mary’s Primary School, Mullaghbane, which encouraged ‘no littering’ and picking up rubbish. The posters were great at conveying the messages, and I would definitely never litter after reading them, some of them stating that a ‘curse’ would be put on you if you littered. We returned to the others in the tree nursery, and while John set up the archery we had some fun playing bulldog. Archery was a close competition, but the boys won :-(. We had a little certificate ceremony in the greenhouse, and all of us congratulated each other on the two weeks. We were also the first group that had 100% attendance every day, which was something to be proud of!
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the youth rangers programme, every day was full of busy work, and looking back now I can see that all our hard work this week will be reflected in a good cause! I loved and enjoyed every moment, and I would certainly recommend this course to anyone who loves learning about the environment, our beautiful Gullion area and giving back to the community, and most importantly the feeling of fulfilment at the end of the day. Massive appreciation to John and Alison, who ran the course super well, were both enthusiastic every day and show their commitment to all of us. Many thanks. [You are most welcome Isabella, it was a pleasure working with you and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much.]