Great Irish Grassland Events

The Great Irish Grassland team organise occasional events. See below for details of some past events. Check in here for news on future events, as well as on social media (e.g. @GrasslandsIrl).

Events are aimed at a range of people, abilities and interests – from events for people new to the area and interested in learning about grasslands, to more technical events aimed at grassland ecologists.

  • Grasslands Walk and Talk, ‘Big Meadow’ at the Glengarriff Nature Reserve

    This walk and talk to the ‘Big Meadow’ in Glengarriff Nature Reserve was led by Phoebe O’Brien, with input from local NPWS staff Clare Heardman. It was part of the excellent Ellen Hutchins festival. A large group of people, many of whom were relatively new to ecology, had a great morning, learning about the site, why it’s of nature conservation value, and what the amazing anthills might tell us about the quality, age and continuity of this unusual grassland pocket, in an otherwise wooded landscape. We learned that the efforts to keep this area open are very important, given that so many creatures require open habitats in order to feed or breed, for example the rare Marsh Fritillary butterfly. Attendees were treated to a lovely show of purple from the Devil’s-bit Scabious.

  • Workshop on Irish Vegetation Classification, with focus on grasslands – Sept 2022 – Newbridge House and Farm, Dublin

    The Irish Vegetation Classification (IVC) is a comprehensive national vegetation classification. It aims to categorise different types of habitats based on data about which species are present. This work is a collaboration between the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), BEC Consultants and the National Biodiversity Data Centre. Funding has been provided by the NPWS. Find out more here: Biodiversity Ireland.

    Philip Perrin (author of the IVC, BEC Consultants) and Fionnuala O’Neill (experienced grassland surveyor, BEC Consultants) will lead this one-day event where participants will get the chance to learn and try out the classification during both class- and field-based sessions.

    Classification demonstration at Newbridge House
  • Burren Grasslands Walk – Aug 2022 – Slieve Carran, Clare

    This was the first event organised and hosted by the Great Irish Grasslands project. On Saturday 13th August a group of almost 20 people braved the high temperatures and had a glorious walk at Slieve Carran /Keelhilla Nature Reserve in north Co. Clare. This area is also part of the Burren National Park. We saw some really lovely grassland plants and animals. Click here for more information and photos from that great day.

    Grassland Event Led by Experts; Photo: Miriam Mortel
  • Burren Grasslands Walk – Aug 2022 – Slieve Carran, Clare

    Last Saturday we had our inaugural event for the Great Irish Grasslands project. On one of the hottest days of the year a group of 17 led by Maria Long (NPWS) and Phoebe O’Brien (Botanist) followed the trail at Slieve Carran in the Burren National Park to explore the grassland habitats and their indicator plants. Before we had even introduced ourselves Maria made an exciting discovery of a Slow Worm !

    The calcareous grasslands in this part of the Burren are managed using a farming system known as ‘winterage’ and are grazed only during the winter to allow the wildflowers to grow and flower during the summer. We noticed many of the Burren specialities such as Autumn Gentian, Dropwort, orchids, and even found a Mountain Avens still in bloom . A tiny Yew tree was spotted growing between the gaps in the limestone pavement – prompting a discussion on goats and wild grazers. We headed for the shade of the woodland surrounding St Coleman’s Oratory to avoid the strong sun and to have a picnic. Here we discussed why grasslands are important and the threats they face. Maria had brought along samples, and showed as how to identify four of the most common grasses in Ireland. The group added these to those they learned earlier: Crested Dog’s-tail and Quaking Grass .

    Walking further into the grasslands surrounded by hazel scrub, Maria showed us an area that had been fenced off from grazing animals for 16 years as part of a scientific experiment. Surprisingly the scrub hadn’t colonised the area as much as one might expect. Perhaps the build-up of grass litter hampered seeds from managing to grow. One of the key findings from the experiment so far was the rapid decrease in the number of plant species. But the study revealed that our tiny wild snails seemed to be happy about the situation! It showed that to support a high number of plant species and their associated insects, grasslands does need to be grazed, but that taller unmanaged areas are also needed, to support other types of creatures too. So, like many things in life, a balance is needed!

    Phoebe O’Brien, 18/08/2022

    Photo Credits: Miriam Mortel, Mark O’ Mahoney, Phoebe O’Brien and Maria Long