The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) will host free Dry Stone Walling training events at its Glenwherry Hill Farm Centre in Ballymena from January to March next year.

The practical training courses will be an introduction to single skinned Dry Stone Walling for field boundary repairs and maintenance.

According to Nicola Warden, CAFRE’s biodiversity technologist, it will give participants the skills and knowledge to repair and maintain a single skinned Dry Stone Wall to be stock-proof, maintain biosecurity with neighbouring farms and comply with Agri-environment Scheme agreements.

Each course will take place for one day, beginning at 10:00a.m and finishing around 3:00p.m. It is free and open to all farmers, land managers and enthusiasts, Warden said.

The sessions themselves will consist of a classroom theory session, followed by a hands-on practical, for which all participants must wear strong work gloves, steel-toe capped boots and warm outdoor clothing.

Content topics include Health and Safety; Types and styles of dry stone walls; Site preparation; Stone selection; and Wall building.

While tools and safety equipment will be provided, participants are urged to bring  a packed lunch and drinks.

Those interested can apply online for any of the available dates:

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

There is also a possibility for more dates to be added should the demand be there.

Why learn Dry Stone Walling?

A Dry Stone Wall is built using only stone, meaning without the use of mortar of concrete. The look is synonymous with the Irish rural landscape. A well-built wall can be as strong as mortared stone walls, yet flexible enough to adapt to its environment, according to the Dry Stone Wall Association of Ireland (DSWAI).

Dry Stone Walls have many advantages, including that they are easy to maintain, have a low-carbon footprint and are completely recyclable, note the DSWAI.

CAFRE also note that they are both durable, and attractive field boundaries.