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padodes
2009-04-06 16:39:56
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Learning to read
It was nice to learn from a recent survey that young Irish people are among the most literate in Europe. Luckily for our national pride, not too many quad-bikers can have been included in the survey. Let me give you another instance of their embarrassing illiteracy. There is now a sign close to Kelly’s Lough, in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains, warning bikers of every ilk to proceed no further into what is an “area of special conservation” (see photo on left). Since bikers can’t read, however, they skirt around the signpost and plough their way up the incline towards the lake, over the flattened wire fence, around the moraine and across a handful of streamlets until they get to the far side of the central Carrawaystick Brook. From here they can ride at full tilt to the head of the valley, leaving in their wake tracks and ruts and trenches where not so long ago there was only waving grass (see second photo, on right).

The warning signs that have been going up in some parts of Wicklow are a token official recognition of the problem. As one might expect, they are completely ineffective. They simply bear mute witness to the powerlessness of the (National Park) authorities to prevent these incursions from happening in remote areas. How can we expect a few Park Rangers to patrol all our hills and forests? Nonetheless, as far as I can see, the number of quads involved, despite the considerable damage they do, is not very high. Perhaps, then, a few targeted confiscations in areas well known for their frequent quad activity could lead to noticeably improved literacy among the bikers.
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