Blackstairs Eco Trails led by Robert and Mary White

We are delighted you have checked out our website. Here’s a little bit about us and how we came to set up Blackstairs Ecotrails.

I was brought up in the Wicklow hills. My Mother was a botanist and a zoologist so from an early age I was introduced to the wonders of the natural environment. I was home schooled for a while which was bliss! This undoubtedly helped shape my future passion for the wild uplands, rocky coasts of Wicklow and a great curiosity about wild life. I took my degree in Trinity College and worked in journalism and publishing for many years with stints in Spain and working for the Spanish Cultural Institute.

Political Life

I took the scenic route into politics having been involved in a lengthy anti mining campaign to protect the Blackstairs Mountains.A campaign which we won and eventually it led me to joining the Green Party.

I was subsequently elected to Carlow County Council in 1999, topping the poll in a rural three seater and becoming the first elected member of the Green Party in Carlow .I also was elected to Dail Eireann our national Parliament and was Minister for Human Rights, Equality and Integration. It was an incredible privilege to serve in government.For ten years I was the Deputy Leader of the Green party .

In 2011 when I lost my seatI started Blacktairs Ecotrails to share my passion for the environment with other people and to create a sustainable eco tourism business in thr Blackstairs.

We are passionate about what we do and sharing this beautiful and undiscovered area with you.

Robert is from Co. Carlow and as brought up on the Barrow with a deep love of wild life and ecology. A passion which he later studied. Robert is a geographer and mathematician .We met in Trinity in our final year and have spent 34 years happily together, exploring our local environment and keeping records of flowers, birds, fungi, grasses etc., for all those years. We are both delighted to be involved in our Eco tourism business sharing our passion for the environment with our guests and developing a sustainable business in the heart of the Blackstairs Mountains.

We have led walks organised by Carlow Tourism , Youth Clubs and visiting groups from abroad.All have been amazed by the wealth of wild flowers, ferns, birds ,butterflies, mushrooms and toadstools in this part of South Carlow. “It’s about looking in our hedgerows, pools, bogs and streams. What’s flying overhead and what’s living underground.” says Robert. Blackstairs Eco Trails are a slow meander through the local countryside on green lanes, along the River Barrow Track, in the lowlands of the Blackstairs, revealing the secret life of these wild places, unspoilt, beautiful and often remote. Mary has written a walk guide to the these hills – Walking in the Blackstairs with the late Joss Lynam. After a long Mount Leinster Anti-Mining campaign, Mary also wrote a book called Mount Leinster Environment Mining and Politics (still in print) to highlight the beauty of the Mount Leinster area.

Mary White hiking on the Barrow Track in Carlow Photo: Tony Maher

Mary White hiking on the Barrow Track in Carlow Photo: Tony Maher

Living and Working in the Blackstairs

white mountain

The mountain river valley of the Blackstairs Mountains: Mt Leinster, Knockroe, White Mountain, Co. Carlow, Ireland

We are members of An Taisce, Bird Watch Ireland and the Irish Wild Life Trust. We have also been involved in surveys for the Breeding Atlas of Irish Birds and completed surveys of over -wintering birds in Ireland. We have been recording birds, butterflies and fungi in the Mount Leinster area for over twenty years .Over the years we have tracked changes in our local biodiversity due to agricultural practices and climate change.

We look forward to sharing this special part of rural Ireland with you!