Monthly Archives: July 2011

All your photos are of you

It can be fascinating to observe photographers in action.

We all enjoy looking at a great image, but I’m sure you, like me, often find yourself wondering about the means which achieved that visually appealing end.

Seeing a snapper in action can give you a greater insight into the person behind the camera – from how they see the world to how they interact with people – than you might hazard a guess at from just seeing the final image.

I know quite a few photographers and they all have different ways of doing things, but who they are and the images they produce are inextricably linked.

I firmly believe that truly great photography is borne not out of a love of the act of photography itself, but a love of people and the world around us.

Canadian photographer Claire Bouvier is a great example of this and I hope she won’t mind me making her my case study for this post!

I met Claire last weekend through her friend, namesake and fellow Kingstonian, the beautiful Claire Hefferon, whom we both like to take photos of – I just get far more opportunities!

Ms Bouvier is a talented photographer, managing to combine a keen eye with an enthusiastic and effervescent approach.

Her eyes and imagination are very quick to pick up on what is going on around her and she’s also quick on the draw with her camera when she likes what she sees.

Claire is what I’d call a “constant framer”, always creating stills of real life with a photograph in mind.

Making people feel at ease with a camera aimed at them is not easy for most of us, but Claire has that happy knack.

It was great to see this lively shutterbug set off into the crowd at a concert armed with her camera, self-confidence and charm, making friends as she captured impressive images. No mean feat.

The drive to explore and discover, allied with a deep interest in the people and world around her are what seem to fuel Claire’s passion for photography.

The substantial point I’m driving at in this post is that no matter what or whom you aim your camera at, ultimately your photos say just as much about you as anything or anybody that may appear in them.

They are an expression of how you see the world, how you feel and, ultimately, who you are.

(Here’s a couple of unfiltered/unedited shots from the gig. Happy snapping Claire!)

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Engaging the living and the living dead

We were taking a stroll in sunny Dublin on Saturday when we noticed an unusually high volume of the “living dead” in the city centre.

Now I’m not about to make some grand philosophical point about our society, I’m talking about the real deal here – zombies!

We quickly ascertained, through excellent investigative work (asking people!), that all the zombies were making their way – slowly, purposefully and menacingly – towards St Stephen’s Green for a charity walk in aid of two very worthy causes, the Irish Cancer Society and the RNLI.

The sight of these kind-hearted zombies out in the sunshine certainly turned a lot of heads as the city was teeming with shoppers and visitors from early morning.

Being a brave blogger, I decided to venture into the heart of the darkness in St Stephen’s Green just before the zombie walk was due to begin.

There were a large number of zombies there and the majority of them had gone to great lengths to ensure they were as convincing as possible. The make-up and costumes were great and I was very impressed by their efforts, particularly those committed few who stayed in character and were a lot of fun to watch.

Second only to zombies in head count terms were photographers, of the professional and passerby variety, including yours truly until my phone really got into the spirit of things and died! It was easy to see why so many snappers went along. It really was quite the spectacle and everyone was more than happy to pose and show off their scary side.

The attention that this event garnered throughout the day (many people stayed in costume and we even saw some zombies at a gig in Marlay Park that night) is a  great example of  how engaging a fundraising campaign can be.

Charities are operating in a crowded market and in a hugely challenging environment where there’s a greater demand on their front line services, while people have less money in their pockets to donate.

Putting the FUN into fundraising (if you’ll please pardon the pun) is a surefire way of engaging people. The zombie walk did that, as did the recent “Where’s Wally” world record attempts, which I took part in myself.

That particular fundraiser took place in different locations in Ireland (Cork, Laois and Dublin) in conjunction with the Street Performance World Championships (SPWC) and was designed to keep that entertaining event a free one for us all to enjoy, with a portion of the €12 cost for each Wally costume also donated to Africa Aware. Last year the SPWC went for a mass space hopper world record as their fundraiser and it worked quite well too. Also, see this previous post for another good example.

Saturday’s event in Dublin was good fun and it wasn’t just for sci-fi fans and goths I should point out! It was a real family event and there was a great mix of people taking part, as well as a fantastic atmosphere. Zombies get bad press, but the ones I met were lovely!

I’m not suggesting that a fundraiser has to involve fancy dress or mass gatherings of zombies or children’s book characters etc. and I’m not advocating gimmicks either, I’m simply making the case for good ideas.

A good idea can elevate your campaign, whatever it pertains to, into the minds of a public incessantly battered with more messages than we’ve ever had to cope with before. Harnessing good will is not as easy as you might imagine, you need to be engaging.

If you can capture someone’s attention – and more importantly their imagination – you not only boost vital fundraising, but also greatly increase the awareness of the excellent, life-changing and life-saving work that so many charitable organisations in Ireland are carrying out at home and abroad.

Now I’m well aware of the great work of the RNLI and the Irish Cancer Society, but if I hadn’t seen zombies wandering around on Saturday I wouldn’t have known there was a fundraising walk on for them. I wouldn’t have been there to put a few bob in the bucket either.

The two events I’ve mentioned here also did something else very important. They engaged far more young people than most other fundraisers in Ireland do. There were fresh faces (behind the zombie make-up!) everywhere on Saturday. Just what any charity wants to see as it looks to increase awareness and build relationships.

Charities, no matter how big or small and whether they are local, national or international are tasked with an increasingly difficult mission in communicating clearly the great work they do and the results they achieve with your donations. This message should not be trivialised in any way.

But, while your work may be hugely important, to combat information fatigue and get people to participate in your fundraisers you’ve got to ask a key question: “what makes us stand out from the crowd?”

Though, as is always the case in life, bear in mind that whatever you do, not everyone will be happy – particularly if you mastermind the invasion of a tranquil and sunny St Stephen’s Green by the living dead…

Should I take the leap?

“If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn’t need to lug around a camera.” – Lewis Hine

I love photography.

Looking at it mostly, but this year I’ve also started taking some photos again following a protracted period of hibernation.

And what rekindled my dormant interest? Well, the iPhone, sort of. I got it in February and it’s the first phone I’ve had that it’s really been worth taking a photo with.

I can’t remember what started it, but I saw something, I took out the phone and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the image (I am, of course, referring to the camera’s capabilities, not my own).

From there on in, I’ve been taking my pocket camera out on a whim. The instant availability appealed to me I guess and as I don’t have what you’d term a “proper” camera I finally had a substitute that I almost always have with me.

So, for example, if you call down to your sister’s and her kids are playing with a bubble machine or on a trampoline you can try capture the joy!

But what really sealed the deal for me was Spain and, in particular, Seville. It is a stunning city and I was compelled to reach for the camera phone countless times. The banner on this blog contains part of one of the many photos I took in Seville.

The colours in Seville (like a lot of things there) are truly amazing and this also really got me going on the Instagram app, which is for sharing photos with others, but also allows you alter them.  The first two photos in this post have been “Instagramed”, the third hasn’t.

Instagram is a phone app that allows you run your photos through a selection of different filters . You can do a lot of things, from emphasizing colours in a variety of ways to going black and white if you like, it all depends on the photo you have to work with really. A lot of people would suggest it’s a Hipster app and I won’t argue with that, but it’s definitely fun!

I generally find some photos cannot be improved with filters (when you get it really right or get lucky), while others can be spruced up quite nicely. This photo of a phone box in Ranelagh/Saoirse Ronan poster is an example of an image I took and then made more striking through Instagram.

As well as occasionally admiring phone boxes, I am also an avid people watcher. We’re a fascinating species really! A lot of the time when you see people who look really interesting or are doing something really interesting, social etiquette/manners/fear will stop you capturing that image, but sometimes you can (safely!) indulge your interest. I love when that happens.

If you’re feeling really brave you can even take photos of people’s underwear…

Best to disregard that last piece of advice!

So I have taken photos in lots of places and of lots of people in recent months and I have really enjoyed it. But there comes a point when if you want to move it on a step you’re just going to have to go and invest in a good camera.

I got thinking about this today when talking to Mick Harpur about a competition I was urging him to enter. Look at photos like this and you’ll see why.  Looking at the Clean Coast website you’ll see the standard of the competition entries from last year. They are fantastic.

Now Mick is one of those people who really knows what makes a great image and has a sharp eye for an opportunity. You can’t really teach someone that I reckon. And just because you have a good camera doesn’t mean you’ll take good photographs.

As good as the iPhone camera is, it’s still a phone camera and I see a lot of images I just can’t capture with it. But I’m not sure if I have the required ability or interest to justify the “proper” camera investment (in terms of time and money).

Will those images I can’t really capture due to the limits of the iPhone really be that much better than the ones I’m getting with it? Will I devote enough time to it to make it worth it? Will I progress enough to make my new camera sing?!

I do think I would really enjoy it. Maybe that should be among my most important criteria when making this decision? If you’ve taken the leap feel free to pass on your advice.

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Making marketing work for you

I dived deep into the digital marketing waters with the Digital Marketing Institute recently and I learned a lot. But relax, I’m not going to bore you with all of that… yet!

BUT… we’re all interested – to some degree or another – in saving money so I’m just going to share this not so new development, which I must admit I knew nothing about. Sites using affiliate marketing to save us money.

Now if you’re already aware of the likes of Fatcheese and Bethrifty then stop reading now, I’ve nothing new to tell you.

If you’re not and like me are often too busy to keep on top of a lot of this stuff or fully educate yourself about it then read on and you could save a nice few bob while doing your online shopping.

These sites are free to join and are don’t work through vouchers or discounts, they just exploit the benefits of affiliate marketing.

This means that if they direct a customer to Nike.com (for example) and that customer goes onto make a purchase from Nike, it has been tracked that they came to the Nike site from Fatcheese . So Nike pays a commission to Fatcheese for the “lead” or sending the buyer their way. It could be anywhere from 4 to 12 per cent of the purchase price depending on what the company is offering. It’s how affiliate marketing works.

Now the trick with these sites is they give YOU their commission and they then generate so much traffic they can use those visitor numbers to generate their revenue through advertising and other initiatives. You’re still getting the same product at the same price as if you went directly to the chosen site, but you’re getting cash back.

It does take a while, could be a couple of months before all the transactions are logged and sorted through, but you do get the money back eventually. It might not be a huge amount on a book or something like that, but if you’re booking flights and hotels it definitely adds up. I know I could have saved a nice sum on hotels in the last few years if I’d been using one of these sites.

Anyway, that’s my tip and I’m sharing it based on the fact that a few savvy enough people I’ve told about it were also not availing of it. These kind of sites are huge in other countries and getting off the ground here now too.

RTE explain the process succinctly here if you just scroll down to point number 2.

P.S. If this tip saves you money, then my commission should be paid in Coronas (beer, not misspelt currency) and Jaffa Cakes.

Breathing new life into a business… with coffins

FROM kitchens to coffins – diversifying has seen a south Wexford carpenter take a somewhat unusual turn in his efforts to sustain his business.

Kevin Sheil, proprietor of 3D Kitchens in Kilmore, was sitting in his showroom last summer and things were quiet, very quiet.

He had reached a crucial crossroads as it was clear that, with the property bubble long-since burst and the country spiralling deeper into a recession, there wasn’t going to be enough business to keep 3D Kitchens going into the future.

Kevin said he’s not quite sure where the  idea of making coffins came from. ‘It happened kind of by mistake, we were just sitting here saying “what’s gone  wrong?” or “am I doing something wrong?” and there was nothing going and when that happens the price plummets and people were getting quoted prices I couldn’t even get my materials for,’ said Kevin.

He had also always thought about making something out of the ‘character oaks’ used in some of his kitchens, like a snooker table. But he realised there was no market for that, so the idea came to him to try making a coffin from pippy oak. In fact, he made two.

‘I always maintain you’re better doing something than doing nothing. Even if you’re not making money at it, at least you’re not spending money doing nothing,’ said Kevin.

He dropped his first coffin down to Ryan’s Undertakers in Wellington Bridge. James Ryan was impressed by what he saw. He took it and suggested he drop the second into Cooney’s Undertakers in New Ross.

‘Joanne (Cooney) took that one off me and by before I got back home she called me and ordered another two. She said “Kevin you’re not going to believe this, but that one’s gone. The people who came in after you picked it straight away. Can we have another two?”’

From that initial positive reaction, Kevin started his new venture in earnest, working six or seven days a week and all the while wondering was he ‘mad’. And so a new business, Kilmore Coffins and Caskets, was born.

Unlike almost all coffins and caskets available in Ireland these days, Kevin’s are handmade. ‘Everything seems to be massed produced these days, it’s the same with kitchens,’ he said.

He said the timber they use, the fact that they are all made by hand and all the material comes from Ireland means they can offer ‘something different’.

‘We started doing pippy oak, then we started doing pippy elm as well and that took off. Then we started doing a walnut and that took off,’ said Kevin.

‘Everything that I’m getting is Irish made too,’ he pointed out. For example, the veneers are from Ballingly Joinery, the mouldings from Co Kildare, the handles come from Co Meath and the linings come from Tullow, where they are handmade by Henry Paton.

He acknowledges that undertakers can buy in – and sell – mass produced coffins for less, but Kevin is focusing on producing quality coffins and caskets for the top-end of the market. He said the cost is ‘not outlandish’, but admits they do cost more.

He confesses that he’s not a salesman and has no intention of becoming one, preferring to let the products speak for themselves. And so far people have been prepared to pay that bit extra for the greater quality of the handmade coffins.

After starting with Ryan’s and Cooney’s, Kevin is now supplying coffins to a number of other local undertakers, including Kearney’s (Wexford), Macken’s (Wexford), Browne’s (Enniscorthy), Hennessy’s (Waterford) and O’Reilly’s (Kilkenny).

He said that support of local undertakers for his new enterprise has been crucial in these early stages and he is also In the process of getting a small grant from Wexford Local Development to help with production.

Though Kevin is looking to expand the business, for the moment he will continue to run Kilmore Coffins and Caskets and 3D Kitchens together.

‘It’s slowly expanding and if I hadn’t gone into this, I wouldn’t have been able to keep the kitchen business going. The kitchens and the coffins together are keeping us going full-time,’ said Kevin, who employs two others in the businesses.

‘When we got going first we were producing four or five (coffins) a week between two of us, but you’d be under pressure at that. So now I try to keep the kitchens for two weeks of the month and then go onto the coffins for the other two,’ he said.

He confesses that he really enjoys making coffins, not for any morbid reasons, but because it’s a return to his first professional love, carpentry.

‘I enjoy it because I’m back doing carpentry again. Here, with the kitchens, I’m mainly a salesman or a middle man and there are so many things outside your control that can go wrong. I’d love to have enough work to be doing it full-time,’ said Kevin, a self-confessed perfectionist.

He said that, given the nature of his new venture, it has caused plenty of good-natured banter among his friends and there have been a few of them seemingly worried that’s he might be sizing them up!

However, it was when Kevin told his mother, Rita, what he was now doing that he received the most interesting response and perhaps an insight into where his coffin-making idea came from.

Kevin said he had no idea what his mother would make of it. ‘When I told my mother she just smiled. I said we made a coffin and brought it down to James Ryan. She asked what he said and I told her he was impressed enough with it,’ recalled Kevin.

‘She then said “your grandfather used to make coffins”. My mother (originally a Griffin) is from West Cork and she told me that my grandfather used to make coffins in the village of Goleen, close to Mizen Head,’ said Kevin.

‘He was the local carpenter there and she used to put the linings in the coffins for him when she was a schoolgirl. They converted the garage, which was his workshop, into a small little summerhouse and that’s where we stay down there. She never said anything to me about it until I started making them,’ he said. It seems the craft was in the family all along.

Hook Head, Stanley Kubrick and the man who banished the devil from Loftus Hall

By Juan Iglesias

The Tall Ships in Waterford and the Lonely Planet’s “Flashiest Lighthouse” accolade has put Hook Head back in the news again recently.

I wrote about the latter development and was more than happy to do so, given that Hook Head is another of Wexford’s true gems. It’s such a beautiful place and, in my opinion, actually more spectacular on a wet and wild day. It’s definitely a rugged beauty.

But if you’re not up for that kind of outing then it’s also great on a sunny day. It’s just five kilometres from the lighthouse to Slade Harbour and back along by the cliffs. You won’t find many nicer short walks anywhere in Ireland.

If you have an interest in finding out more about this historic area you should get your hands on Billy Colfer’s fantastic book  “The Hook Peninsula”. To say he’s an authority on the area is putting it mildly. Even the locals will have learned a lot from reading this book. Here’s an overview.

For the non Wexfordians among you, Billy also happens to be the father of author Eoin Colfer, whose star just continues to rise since the phenomenally successful Artemis Fowl series.

An interesting thing I only found out about Hook Head recently –  through Wexford artist Eleanor Duffin – is that the late Stanley Kubrick was in love with the place.

He went there on holidays with his family and was looking at the possibility of making a film there. (Eleanor has been given access to the great filmmaker’s archives by his family and it will be very interesting to see what she comes up with!)

It seems Stanley was also fascinated with Loftus Hall, the second most striking structure on the Hook Peninsula. This famous house has now unfortunately gone to rack and ruin and is once again up for sale, with an asking price of €635,000.

Loftus Hall has a fascinating history in its own right, not least the story surrounding it’s most famous visitor, Satan (allegedly!). Read all about it here.

Ramsgrange Church was broken into recently and someone stole the chalice that Fr Thomas Broaders reportedly used in his famous exorcism at Loftus Hall. Thankfully it turned up, as Elaine Furlong reports.

In conclusion, I have two things to say.

Firstly, if you haven’t been to Hook Head in a while, or particularly if you’ve never been, make it your business to get there soon.

Secondly, Fr Broaders, who is buried in Horetown Cemetery, has one of the best epitaphs I’ve ever seen:

“Here lies the body of Thomas Broaders, who did good and prayed for all, and who banished the devil from Loftus Hall.”

“She won more than medals – she won hearts”

So the Special Olympic are over. The athletes are all home since last Tuesday and the four Wexford representatives won no less than eight medals.

I was in Enniscorthy this morning for the homecoming of Mary O”Brien and Ann Marie Talbot, pictured above with Irish soccer legend Paul McGrath (more about him later).

Pride and joy were the overriding emotions at the County Wexford Community Workshop (CWCW), which the dynamic table tennis duo attend, for their welcome home party.

It’s rare to attend something that is so purely positive and untainted by any sort of self promotion or grandstanding. There were no agendas here, just good old fashioned community celebrations.

I caught up with Ann Marie’s parents, Brendan and Dympna, nestled in a quiet corner, proudly watching their daughter in the spotlight. She may be a sprightly 42-years-old, but there was no doubt from talking to them that she’s still their little girl. Literally and figuratively!

Her height puts Ann Marie at a disadvantage in table tennis, but what she lacks in stature she more than makes up for in spirit, as Brendan explained to me:

“She’s very quiet, gentle and loving… until you put a medal at stake and then she’ll knock the daylights out of you! She fights tooth and nail for every shot and never knows when she’s beaten.”

Mary’s family were equally proud and loved watching her revel in the limelight, not least her entertaining exchange with the excellent MC for this morning’s event, local sports broadcaster Liam Spratt. ‘We’re very proud of her, she’s done so well,’ he sister Anna told me, while another proud sister, Margaret, was not one bit surprised that Mary had returned home with a gold medal.

In the end though, the real measure of success was in the beaming faces of all those who attend the community workshop and their two Olympic heroes.

Fintan Broaders, himself a former Special Olympian, summed it up when he spoke on behalf of all the service users there: “Congratulations Anne Marie and Mary for bring such joy to the workshop. Enjoy your moment, we all know how hard you’ve worked for it.”

On another note, there were lots of local dignitaries there today, but the man who most wanted to speak to was Irish soccer legend Paul McGrath, who lives in the area.

Paul, as was pointed out to me several times by different CWCW staff, is a regular visitor up there and great supporter of the vital services they provide. He also knows a thing or two about the fighting spirit that’s to be found in abundance there.

The polite and unassuming gentle giant of Irish soccer was a real star today, quietly lending his support to the event, while making time for all his friends from the CWCW, which is perfectly encapsulated in Pat O’Connor’s photo above, one of the many great shots the Enniscorthy Guardian man took today.

The Special Olympics is the subject I wrote about in my first ever blog post about, which was inspired by meeting Wexford’s Carole Ryan and her family.

The title of this post is a quote from Carole’s mother Mary. I spoke to her this week after her daughter returned home with two gold medals, countless new friends and priceless memories.

I hope she gets as good a welcome home in Wexford on Saturday as Ann Marie and Mary received in Enniscorthy morning. Bernadette Kennedy also a great welcome in Gorey on Tuesday night.

Get thee to Kilmore Quay… but don’t run in the dunes!

THOUSANDS of seafood lovers will flock to a small Co Wexford fishing village this weekend.

Kilmore Quay is famous for its many thatched cottages and it’s fishing, with the latter taking centre stage over the coming days as the picturesque seaside village hosts its annual Seafood Festival.

The festival begins in seafaring style Thursday night with a maritime-themed parade through the village and the programme of events continues through to Sunday evening.

Tonight also sees the festival’s famous seafood platter prize competition, where the local restaurants and bars compete to create the best seafood platter, with bragging rights bestowed on the winner as their creations are enjoyed by the crowd.

The local fish processors in Kilmore Quay have come together for the traditional fish market, which starts Friday and will offer visitors the best of freshly caught seafood at once-off, specially reduced rates. Fresh seafood will also be available to buy at the harbour stalls on Saturday and Sunday.

However, there’s more than seafood on the menu, Kilmore Quay will also be serving up “mussels” of a different variety during the Republic of Ireland’s Strongest Man competition and there are a vast array of exhibitions and activities, from yacht races to sandcastle building competitions.

Festival Co-ordinator Sylvia Kehoe said this year’s festival is centred on “seafood, fishing and free family fun”.

“This festival has been firmly established over the last 26 years with families who travel to Kilmore Quay to join in the traditional family fun of the festival and to enjoy the fresh catch from the Wexford coastline,” said Ms Kehoe.

“We are expecting large crowds and we have a five day festival programme with something for everyone to enjoy,’ she added.

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I was down in Kilmore village and KIlmore Quay this evening and as I have started running again this week (a whole other blog post in the making!) I said I’d get one in while I was down there.

So I took my dodgy hip and rickety shins through the dunes on The Burrow. Beautiful scenery, but Maram grass is not my friend!

Curracloe

I met some Wexford people who have been giving generously of their time and energy to preserve a place that I – and many others – love.

The story is below some photos I took at The Raven/Curracloe on my phone earlier this year. It’s probably my favourite place and I can’t praise the “Friends of The Raven” enough for the work they have been doing.

They won’t get a warden, but hopefully they will raise awareness and engender a greater sense of ownership and pride in a paradise on our doorstep.

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CALLS have been made for the by-laws governing one of Co Wexford’s most popular beauty spots to be enforced before it is spoiled.

The Friends of The Raven Coastcare Group have said that anti-social behaviour and littering are getting so bad in Curracloe that it’s now getting to their point where their voluntary efforts to clean the area are becoming ‘futile’.

The Raven Wood Nature Reserve, adjoining the hugely popular Curracloe beach, is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and by-laws there include no camping, no fires, no littering (including dog foul) and that all dogs must be kept on leads.

In a letter to Minister Brendan Howlin, their most senior local representative, the Friends of The Raven said: ‘as we embark on the coming busy summer season, we are increasingly concerned that the degree of camping and littering within the wood and its environs is seriously escalating’.

Sunny weekends attract visitors from all over Ireland and on the June Bank Holiday Weekend the local volunteers counted 19 tents in the area, ‘with a number of camp fires having to be put out and the garbage left behind having to ne gathered and hauled out by us’. The Friends of The Raven also made their case in person to Minister Howlin’s cabinet colleague Jimmy Deenihan at Wexford’s Wildfowl Reserve last Friday.

Dave Costelloe and Pat Burke are two of the longest serving members of The Friends of The Raven and carry out regular clean-ups and litter picks there. They are part of a small core group of volunteers that has become increasingly busy since the summer season kicked in.

The group was formed out of a love for the area, but Dave said the level of rubbish there at the moment, from campers and people littering as they walk through the woods, is ‘heartbreaking’.

Pat said one of the problems stems from the fact that the area is governed by a number of authorities. ‘The enforcement of the by-laws falls between a number of stools. This land in the woods is governed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service; Coillte are responsible for the trees and when you go out onto the dunes or beach or into the car park, that’s Wexford County Council’s area,’ he said.

‘It’s easy to write by-laws, but enforcing them is another matter,’ added Dave. He said that they are a small group and the mounting rubbish is becoming too much for them.

‘You could go on forever through other people’s dirt,’ said Pat. ‘We’re getting towards the quitting stage, we’re beginning to feel that our efforts are futile,’ added Dave.

Pat pointed out that The Raven Wood was one of five locations in Ireland recently chosen by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for its ‘Bioblitz’ initiative and is a site of national importance.

Senan Reilly, another Friend of The Raven, said they want to increase awareness of the area and ‘encourage a sense of ownership and pride’ among local people.

Pat pointed out that the majority of the regular users of the area are fully supportive of their efforts, but the problems there continue to escalate nonetheless. ‘There’s great good will out there and people really do appreciate this place and we can’t let a small number of brats ruin it for everyone,’ he said.

‘The by-laws are there, it just requires political will,’ said Dave. The Friends of The Raven have called for a full-time warden to oversee the area.

However, they acknowledged that funding is a major issue and at the very least want to see ‘joined-up thinking’  between the Gardaí, the Department of the Environment, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Wexford County Council and An Taisce.

The Friends of the Raven hope that this would lead to ‘more frequent weekend monitoring and policing’ of The Raven Wood and ‘more stringent application’ of the by-laws governing the area.

The Friends of The Raven also pointed out that many cars are broken into, on an ongoing basis, in the car parks adjoining Curracloe beach while people are out walking and that anti-social behaviour in the woods is also ‘causing some members of the public to avoid the area out of concern for their personal safety’.