Header image: Mike Kinsella
Sunshine greeted the excited walkers, who visited Moygownagh in North Mayo on Saturday 24th August 2018, as part of Heritage Week, for the official opening of Blanemore Forest Archaeological Walk.
Professor Seamas Caulfield of Céide Fields renown, with local Councillor Michael Loftus, cut the ribbon on the 5km walk, developed by the local community of Moygowagh along with Coillte.
Before guiding the large group who attended, Prof Caulfield gave an inspirational talk, on the deep human history revealed in the Blanemore walk, but also about the vibrant heritage of the communities of North Mayo and his hope in their shared future. Historian and Heritage officer with Moygownagh Community Council, Liam Alex Heffron, thanked Councillor Loftus and Mayo County Council employees for their support and the people of Moygownagh who had worked so hard to create this now nationally recognised walking trail. He also made special mention of the local Community Employment scheme under John O’Malley, who built a robust non-slip boardwalk across the boggy parts of Blanemore with Polish sleepers and re-engineered cow mats!
Blanemore Forest is a walk through 6,000 years of human history in North Mayo where visitors can explore the sacred tombs and field walls of the first farmers in Ireland, walk among the mysterious standing stones of the Bronze age and sit with the brooding dark beauty of Lough Naweela.
Information displays and colourful way markers show the way along the gravel and wooden paths in the conifer wood, while a free smartphone self-guide app, can be downloaded from the website www.blanemoreforest.com.
Following the walk, historian Liam Alex Heffron, gave a talk on the ANSEO! project to digitise the National School Records in North Mayo and West Sligo. This unique project is supported by the Heritage Council and will ensure that the culturally valuable roll books and registers will all have a digital copy – vital should anything happen the originals.