The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Business (CAFRE) will be hosting free dry stone wall training events at its Glenwherry Hill Farm Center in Ballymena from January through March next year.

The hands-on training courses will be an introduction to single-wall dry stone walls for boundary repairs and maintenance.

According to Nicola Warden, CAFRE’s Biodiversity Technologist, he will give participants the skills and knowledge to repair and maintain a single-walled drystone wall to be stock-proof, maintain biosecurity with neighboring farms and be comply with the agri-environmental program agreements.

Each class will take place over one day, starting at 10:00 am and ending around 3:00 pm. It’s free and open to all farmers, land managers and enthusiasts, Warden said.

The sessions themselves will consist of a theoretical classroom session, followed by a practical session, in which all participants are required to wear sturdy work gloves, steel-toed boots and warm outerwear.

Content topics include health and safety; Types and styles of dry stone walls; Site preparation; Selection of stones; and the construction of the wall.

Although tools and safety equipment are provided, participants are requested to bring a packed lunch and drinks.

Interested persons can apply online for any of the available dates:

  • Saturday January 29 (this session is almost complete according to CAFRE);
  • Friday February 18;
  • Saturday February 26;
  • Friday March 11.

It is also possible to add other dates if the request is there.

Why learn the dry stone wall?

A dry stone wall is built using only stone, that is, without the use of concrete mortar. The look is synonymous with the Irish rural landscape. According to the Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland (DSWAI), a well-constructed wall can be as strong as mortar stone walls, while still being flexible enough to adapt to its surroundings.

The dry stone walls have many advantages, in particular that they are easy to maintain, have a low carbon footprint and are fully recyclable, notes the DSWAI.

CAFRE also notes that they are both durable and attractive land boundaries.