Heritage Week in Merlin Woods will offer plenty of opportunities to explore the woodland through its people, music, nature, and history.
Beginning on Saturday from 11am to 1pm, Dr Janice Fuller, one of Ireland's leading ecologists, will lead a walk exploring the woods, looking at its diverse range of habitats, from limestone to grassland and woodland areas, the benefits they have for the city's wildlife and the links between the habitats. One of the city's oldest and largest woodland areas, this will be a very exciting walk through the eyes of an experienced woodland expert.
On Sunday from 12 noon to 2pm the woods will be the setting for a heritage project demonstration with Debbie Reilly, woodland coppicing, and Fergus Packman, stone wall restoration. Explore the work from last year and the ongoing work this year in this Heritage Council funded project. Learn about the traditional crafts and how to get involved in the free workshops to learn a new skill and be part of this exciting project.
Galway Bat Group will lead a walk and talk on the bats of Merlin Woods on Monday August 20, from 9.15pm to 11pm. The group will use bat detectors to hear the bats as they forage overhead and to identify, through their calls, which species are out and about. This is a great event for all ages.
Explore Merlin Woods Heritage with Dr Jim Higgins, Galway city’s heritage officer, on Tuesday from 1pm to 2.30pm. This lunchtime walk will explore the historic sites such as the castle and the graves, learn out about the families who resided here, the folklore, and the history of the area.
On Wednesday August 22 from 7pm to 8pm, the Nest Area will be the venue for an evening with Dr John Lusby, the third in Friends of Merlin Woods' series of conversations with the people of the woods. Dr John Lusby is involved in numerous events and projects associated with the woodlands. He works for Birdwatch Ireland and has been involved in both TV and radio. He has presented and researched shows for award winning Crossing the Lines Production, such as Wild Cities. Through the conversation he will discuss what brought him into the world of nature, what drives him to do the work he does, his travels, his ambitions, and how he sees the future of nature.
Songs from the Fairy Fort with Little John Nee will also take place in the Nest Area, on Friday August 24 from 8pm to 10pm.
A beloved performer from the street to theatre and a prolific creator of work for theatre, Little John Nee was recently elected to Aosdána. His style of storytelling theatre with music has won him international recognition, and his play Sparkplug won an Irish Times Theatre Award for his sound design, while the RTE radio version won a Special Mention Prize at the Prix Italia 2013. Suggested donation on the night is €10.
The final event of the week is a butterfly walk with Colin Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods, taking place on Sunday August 26 from 12 noon to 2pm. For the past six years Colin Stanley has been photographing and studying the habitats and species of Merlin Woods butterflies. He also established the Galway Butterfly Project, an educational project to help people identify species and value the wild habitats within Galway county for our 31 species. With 19 species of butterfly to be found in this wildlife haven, it will be nice way to end the week of events, chasing butterflies though wildflowers.
All events begin at Merlin Woods Community Garden, just off Doughiska Road, unless otherwise stated. Children are welcome with parents and guardians. Wheelchair access is partial for some events. It is advisable to leave dogs at home, other than assisted guide dogs. Events are free unless otherwise stated.