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Drystone Walls & Ditches of South West Ireland


Stone Walls
Stone walls (2)
Modern walls
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Irish ditches come in a variety of styles:

Earth Ditch
This ditch has a drain on both sides

This is almost impassible to animals, but like many is vulnerable to modern farming practices which concentrate many cattle into one field for a short period of time. Unless fenced off they can soon destroy a section of ditch. When these boundaries were built cattle were smaller breeds such as Dexters or Kerry cattle. The number of animals kept was also less which meant the animals were less inclined to investigate and poke in ditches.

Earth Ditch
This ditch has been destroyed by animals

Originally six feet wide with both sides faced with stones set vertically this has been destroyed by allowing animals access to the sides. This is especially damaging if the ditch doesn't have much undergrowth or shrubs on it. Most farmers now use electric or barbed wire fences to keep stock away from ditches. In turn this means that ditches are not generally looked after because they are now of little use in many farms

Ditch with laid hedge on top

This ditch has a Hawthorn hedge growing from the top. This particular hedge was laid by me in 1999. As you can see the stones are mostly laid randomly to no particular pattern. In most cases the stones are laid vertically aligned or slanted.

Ditch & Hedge

Another typical ditch, this one near the coast has a row of stunted Blackthorn along the top. This one has many stones with their flat face placed against the ditch. These are known here as 'shiners'.