By Dan Walsh at Ballyfad Woods
Ballyfad Wood Heritage and History Project was officially launched today by Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin, Leas Cathaoirleach Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council deep in the woods where a special stone memorial was unveiled.
Piper Ray Finn led the parade which included members of the local pike group. After a warm welcome and a brief explanation around the project by Cllr Ó Súilleabháin the memorial was unveiled with help from Coilte’s Mary Clifford.
Amongst the attendance were Deputies Johnny Mythen and Verona Murphy and Cllrs Donal Kenny and Joe Sullivan.
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin thanked everybody associated with completing the project including Lorraine O’Dwyer of gallavantingtours.ie who treated everybody to a guide to the woods, medicinal plants and biodiversity information and Rory O’Mahoney, engineer with Wexford County Council who helped with the funding. Special thanks also to Derek Carroll and Oliver Mythen for their research work.
There was also the unveiling of an information board which was performed by Tom and Mary Fleming in tribute to their son, the late ‘Jango’ Fleming.
Traditional music was performed by Chulainn Ó Faolain and his sister, Éire Ní Fhaolain.
It was a pleasant Sunday morning in the woods and afterwards refreshments were provided for all in May Byrne Trust House on Coolgreany’s Main Street.
The Ballyfad Walk is set in over 200 acres of mature woodland near Coolgreany, which is an example of an old woodland site that is shown in the original 1835 Ordnance Survey map. Such old woodland sites are relicts of the original vast forests that covered most of the country prior to the 16th century and are rich in biodiversity as they have never been fully clear-felled.
The woods at Ballyfad were acquired by the government from the Brooke Estate in 1904 at a cost of over £3,000.
The trailhead sign shows details of four trails of varying length and many fine examples of mature oak (1820), beech (1912), Norway spruce, Western hemlock, Douglas fir and Scots pine can be seen along the way. A special section of the Bluebell trail has been developed as a fairy walk especially for younger walkers.
Ballyfad Wood was used as a refuge by rebel forces both before and after the rebellion of 1798 and there are records of Anthony Hackett and his companions encountering local loyalist militia in the woods in the autumn and winter of 1798.