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School & Mass Paths

We are all encouraged to walk & cycle more now as a means of local transport. Cycle lanes and Greenways are built at some cost to encourage sustainable local transport. Yet again it’s relevant to observe the French saying ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ – the more things change, the more it stays the same.

Turn the clock back a couple of generations to the 1950s and before, when car ownership was the exception, it was common for people to walk or cycle. There were more local services and national schools existed within walking distance of most communities. If you’re going to walk from home to school or the local village or to visit a neighbour, then you naturally take the route of least effort. This resulted in a dense network of local pathways that served local needs. Where streams, rivers or drains needed to be crossed, the local community built and maintained foot sticks or bridges or stepping stones. Stiles were built over walls with gates to cross ditches etc. All maintained by local families that used them.

Most of these have disappeared, if you don’t use it then you lose it. Car ownership became more common, local schools were amalgamated and school buses provided to offset the greater distances. Some school/ mass paths still survive in memory and others in practice where they have been rehabilitated by local communities into loop walks etc. This stile is for a field path on the Cullentragh walk near Kiltealy in Co.Wexford and marked on the digital version of our Blackstairs map on the Hiiker app.
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