May 10th. May 2023
Several dozen members turned up for the hike through the Gearagh Nature Reserve. This contains the last stand of Primeval River Forest left in western Europe and is a noted, wild bird observation area. Led by local ecologist and author Kevin Corcoran, a retired secondary teacher, the participants not only discovered the wonderful history of this fascinating area, they completed a comfortable 5km circular hike in fine, clear and fresh weather.
Of the former forest dwellers that lived in the island-studded, alluvial forest prior to its flooding by an ESB water-storage reservoir, magical stories imparted to the participants included those of their ability to make bizarre flat-bottomed boats, their own timber shoes and eating wild plants, as well as the exploits of 18th century outlaws like Shaun Ruadh an Ghaoireadh,the trials of making poitin and the fate of some of those involved in the Kilmichael Ambush.
Participants were also enthralled to discover that the river forest is an intact, living example of the ancient, Temperate Rainforests that once covered all of Ireland and western Europe,. Although enormous sections were felled in the 1950’s prior to its flooding by the ESB to make hydro-electricity, this has made a remarkable comeback through natural regeneration or wilding. his power of nature to heal and regenerate seemed so apt to all present, as the physical hike seemed to regenerate everyone that completed the circular hike also.
Full of vigour and having generated a good appetite the members returned to Macroom for a late afternoon lunch. Thanks and appreciation were given to Kevin for his extensive knowledge and to Margaret Dineen who organised the trip.
Everyone present agreed that hiking was a wonderful relaxing and informative experience, especially for the mind and the body, and so, look forward to the next outing with pleasure.