Marker Map, 18th June 2014, Ulster Museum 11.00 am -12.30 pm (a Mapping Alternative Ulster event with Garrett Carr)

This was a walk to produce a live map on a 1:1 scale, of the walk, on the walk by all the participants! We negotiated a route together then left small visual markers at intervals, like a trail, which an be followed by others. These mapped out a route as we went 

The route take the form of a geometric abstract cross shape agreed by all participants in advance of the walk. We set ourselves a near impossible mission and tried to draw this shape through walking, talking and tagging but were diverted down alleys and through service yards in our attempt to stick to straight lines. Our walk was so convoluted in our attempt to stick to a geometric route that it transpired to be actually unmappable!

This walk was an event as part of the exhibition Mapping Alternative Ulster curated by Garrett Carr 

Vernacularisms 2 with Jason O' Rourke 11 am outside Crown Bar 23rd Nov 2013

Vernacularisms 2 with live readings by Jason O Rourke took in a few city centre jems. You can read them all here

Great Victoria St., assemble outside Crown Bar

'Happy Birthday'

Royal Avenue

'Consuming Passions'
Bank Square
'Those were the days'
'The Cat's Whiskas'

Rosemary St

'Sweet Rosemary'

Lombard St

'Dirty Bomb'

finishing in Arthur Square

'Choir of Angels

CROW Goes A Gathering Nuts in October

View CROW Goes a Gathering Nuts in October in a larger map
A late start, the motorway is closed so some of our possy are stuck en route to our starting point at Cutter’s Warf car park. Kevin, the forester with his knowledge of trees and stash of threaded conkers, is in that car, so we wait for a while but than start slowly walking so that they can catch up, they are on their way.

The kids are excited and scan the ground, their first haul is some fallen crab apples, they collect plenty but the apples are probably past their best and unsalvageable for anything edible, we bag them non the less.

What looks like hawthorn is spotted, but it could be blackthorn, we will consult Kevin for clarification later and walk on seeing what else we can identity in our enthusiasm.

The eagle-eyed kids are first to spot the next seedy thing, ‘helicopters’ from sycamores, they hold them high and watch them propel downward before putting them our bag of seedy treasure.

We find willow in fruit with jewel like ruby red egg shaped berries, tempting looking, but thankfully even the young children know better than to risk eating them. Into the bag they go!  Ivy in flower entangles the base of a snowberry bush. I recall being 6 when a kid shoved one of its snow whit berries in my ear, still a vivid memory, I can still hear it pop. Simon recalls kids doing this and the peculiar pop the berries make. We find another little dried up trench lined with fallen and pitted crab apples, the kids scramble to gather them up.  Simon spots some rose hips near the crab apple tree and jumps the ditch to get some. Our bag is filling up with autumn’s fallen bounty.

Spirits are high and a child throws the frisbee triumphantly, it lands in a water filled ditch, Simon comes the rescue leaning in to get it held from falling in by Helen.

The kids have already moved on having spotted banks of Himalayan Balsam. They can’t resist testing its springy seed scattering mechanism. They hold the pods in their hands which instantly pop, unfurl and scatter their pay load, stimulated by a small amount of body heat.

‘Old Mans Beard’ clads tree trunks along the riverbank, the air is clean here.  We spot some vetch, a type of wild pea, in the hedgerow amongst nettles. It’s a bit shriveled, had to spot and beyond good eating now. Other edibles include some late blackberries not yet ripened. They’ll hardly ripen now the fruit on the branch next to them is already shriveled.

There is gorse too but before we get to far into a discussion of where the northern name whin and the western name gorse come from the second half of our posy arrive with forester Kevin bearing pre threaded conkers  (from the batch donated by Alastair) as there are no horse chestnuts here.  A game of conkers ensues with Simon and Helen giving the younger kids tips on good conker technique.

Heading on Kevin helps us identify a range of species, Beach & Silver Birch behind a bank of Poplars’, tall majestic but in all probability no more than 30 yrs old.  We find a hazel nut tree and search for hazel nuts but the squirrels beat us to it, this is squirrel heaven. There is a puffball mushroom here too, we surmise how good it would be to be able to confidently identify and gather mushrooms for the pan but no point taking stupid risks.

There are Oaks here too; acorns from Sessile or Irish oaks were one of the key objectives of the walk. Kevin points out there is nothing particularly ‘Irish’ about these oaks as they are a native species right across Europe but speculates that they became associated with the Irish at the time of the Plantation an planters saw the ‘native’ Irish move onto more boggy land where these trees commonly grew. We bag a few acorns whilst Kevin further explains how Sessile (meaning without stem from the Greek) refers not to the stem of the leaf but rather the lack of stem leading to the Sessile Oak’s acorn, in contrast to the Pedunculate Oak, which has a stem at the base of its acorns. We find samples of both here.

Further up the path we veer off to where we know that there is some very old oak. Simon scans for and finds an oak apple on one tree. The children crowd around in wonder as he splits it open to reveal the parasitic grub within. This one is rotten but we soon find another in good condition, which does not disappoint as they see the tiny grub cocooned within.

Kevin spots the largest of the oaks and measures its girth with a steel take measure which has a horseshoe nail at its end to anchor it to the tree as he passes its impressive circumference. It exceeds 4 meters.

Some more clambering exploring and chat and its time to head home. The temperature is dropping, the kids are tiring and even the dog is flagging. We head back having had a bountiful autumn day before the evening starts to really draw in.

Stranmillas Embankment car park Satruday 12th October 2.00pm


Teann CROW A Bailleadh Cnoanna í Mí Deireadh Fomhair

Aibí - Ripe
Aibigh  - Ripen
Beith Gheal - Birch
Bláth – Flowe
Caorthann – Rowan / Mountain Ash
Caonach / Carraigín  - Moss
Ceap - Trunk
Cliabh - Hurdle
Coll – Hazel
Coill – Wood
Coilte – Woods
Coilteoir – Forester
Craobh – Branch
Craobhóga - Twigs
Crann – Tree
Crann Creathach – Aspen
Crann Sleamhain Hornbeam
Crann Cnó Capall  - Horse Chestnut
Cnó Coill – Hazelnut
Cuillean - Holly
Dara – Oak
Dair Ghaelach – Seissle Oak
Dearcán   - Acorn
Duille - Leaf
Duilleach - Leafy
Deilig – Thorn
Deilgneach - Thorny
Fearnóg - Alder
Féith - Vein
Fómhar  - Harvest
Fuinseog – Ash
Gas - Stem
Garrán – Grove
Geag - Branch
Iúr –Yew
Planda – Plant
Ros Choill - Copse
Saileach - Sally / Willow
Síol - Seed
Tor – Bush
Toradh – Fruit

CROW Goes A Gathering Nuts in October Meet Stranmillas Embankment car park Satruday 12th October 2.00pm

A CROW walk with Coillte forester Kevin McCarthy to collect nuts from various tree species in Belfast which can be planted at a later date.

We will be checking out native Oaks, and other species, gathering acorns and collecting conkers. There may even be some tips on how best to season your conker for seasonal schoolyard / workplace wins!

Meet Stranmillas Embankment car park
Satruday 12th October 2013 at 2.00pm