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October Masterclass Report, 06 October 2018
The weather gods smiled on the Association's first Masterclass last weekend. We had brought over champion English hedgelayer Nigel Carter, with whom we have worked in the past. Nigel judged our 2013 All- Ireland competition and participated in and won the 2014 All-Ireland. We had 8 participants booked onto the course on the day, all of them experienced hedge layers, unfortunately one had to cry off on the morning of the course leaving seven of us participating and HLAI elder-statesman Paul O'Hagan over-seeing the smooth running of the day. We met at the very helpful, interested and supportive Michael Neasy's farm near Ardee at 9 a.m. Michael has a good history of promoting quality hedges and has been planting good mixed species hedges on his land for at least 20 years and having pre-existing hedges laid. He also has a yard, much to small a word, of cut and salvaged stone of greater quantities and more variety than I have ever seen, if you're looking for some interesting stone I doubt if you could do better. The sun was already shining as we gathered at the hedge and it continued to shine for the entire day, at times it was even a bit warm for heavy work. Nigel gave us a talk about the hedge and how he would approach it. Then we separated into three groups, one starting at the end and the other two breaking into the hedge at spaces of about 10 meters and through the course of the day we worked towards each other while Nigel engaged with each group making suggestions on structure and cuts and answering questions with endless good humour and clarity and patience. His tips on approaching and carrying out the work, how to deal with brittle older trees and how to get a good solid structure in gappy areas I found particularly helpful and there was nothing but praise and goodwill and gratitude for Nigel from the trainees as we completed the joining up of the three sections of hedge around 4:30 pm having had a decent break for food and chatting at lunchtime and indeed much chatting throughout the day. Then Nigel gave us a good demonstration of and hands-on instruction in the art of binding the top of the hedge with willow binders. It really was a most satisfying, enjoyable and instructive day and thanks to all who helped organise and participated in this very memorable occasion.

May 26th 2019 at 2.30 pm Tree Nursery Establishment, 26 May 2009
Demonstration of how to set up a Native Tree Nursery using Oak, Holly, Blackthorn, Rowan, Whitethorn and Spindle with renowned nurseryman John McKeown, at Castleblaney Community Gardens, Drumillard, Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan A Biodiversity Week Project funded by the Irish Environmental Network.