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  Cape Clear IslandTrees and Trails, Hidden Treasures are revealed

In 1989 approximately 13,000 trees were planted in the centre of Cape Clear Island on both sides of the trail known as the ‘Mass Track’. At that time, sadly, due to funding requirements 90% of the trees were evergreens, mostly pine with the remaining 10% deciduous, mostly sycamore. In the following years efforts to clear around the trees fell short and the bracken quickly reasserted itself and the young trees disappeared from view, presumed lost. By the mid 1990’s, however, I was delighted to see hundreds of small trees appear above the bracken and in subsequent years it came to light that most of the trees had indeed survived and slowly began to creep upwards towards the sky. By 2002 visible copses had been established and from that year on-going voluntary efforts commenced to plant the areas in between with a range of mostly native broadleaves including Oak, Alder, Birch, Blackthorn and more and because of the shelter provided by the original plantings these for the most part have thrived. In the last 5 years alone approximately 1,200 new trees have been planted. This past winter the efforts have been given a new impetus by the arrival of John Kelly who has cleared the original track way and has also made a number of new trails which meander through the now tree filled landscape and leading to various open areas where spectacular and hitherto fore inaccessible views are now revealed. These trails also lead to some of the open heather landscape which is always attractive and especially so in season. Members of the Community are already enjoying this new amenity and various groups have already walked the trails and have been very well pleased. Plans are afoot to improve access and signage and possibly to develop a number of ‘picnic’ areas in years to come. The new semi woodland amenity/nature area is well located and forms a rough triangle with the Goat Farm and the well-appointed island Heritage Centre on the Northern side leading to the entrance to the ‘Mass Track, close to the Old Post Office on the central island road. It is accessible from both ends of the ‘Mass Track’ and also by a new trail, shortly to the East of the Goat Farm, these forming the ‘sides’ of the triangle. Together with these other amenities, they offer a good days walking not far from the hustle and bustle of North Harbour. The walks cover rough terrain so are not suitable for buggies and require both suitable footwear and moderate health. All this has been achieved on a shoestring and visitors who enjoy the new amenity are asked to make a modest contribution in the box provided in the Tourist Office, all of which will fund the on-going efforts. Ní neart go cur le chéile, Séamus

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