The forest road construction experts

10 Oct , 2018  

Jack Walsh of Barrack Meadow Construction Limited has over 25 years’ experience in forest road construction. The forestry infrastructure contractor works primarily for the State-owned forestry company Coillte in the Clare and Galway areas.

The East Clare man had worked in the construction sector before he began making roadways for Joe McGrath of McGrath Quarries in O’Callaghan’s Mills. This led to him setting up Barrack Meadow Construction Limited which specialises in forestry road construction, upgrade of roadways, mulching, rock-breaking and limbing, which is the process of removing branches from the trunk of a fallen tree.

While Coillte is Jack’s main customer, his client-list also includes local authorities, quarry operators and farmers. He is assisted by two full-time plant operators and has an array of machinery and equipment to carry out any size of a job.

“We’re kept busy,” says Jack, who runs his business from Feakle, which is the home parish of the well-known RTE hurling pundit and double Clare All-Ireland winning manager Ger Loughnane.

“At the moment, we’re delimbing trees in Crusheen for some local farmers. We’re a specialist forest infrastructure contractor covering Clare and Galway. Our work involves felling trees for the purpose of road construction. For forest owners approaching first thinning, the availability of a forest road suitable for the loading and haulage of logs by timber lorries is crucial.

“Our job is to basically make roadways to the site where the harvesting is taking place. We also maintain the roadways and use rock-breakers to crush stone for Coillte. In addition, we do a lot of tree limbing for Clare County Council.”

Forest roads provide access to and within a forest. They assist plantation inspection and management, provide and facilitate forest fire protection, permit economic and efficient timber harvesting, and provide recreational opportunities within a forest. A well-planned forest road can also enhance biodiversity in the open spaces between the road and the trees.

As the loading of timber is illegal on public roads, even small plantations require some road construction to provide timber loading areas. This usually involves the construction of a new harvest road or the upgrading of an existing road to harvest road standard.

As roads are often costly to construct, good design, planning and construction is vital. It is important to plan the best possible access for the extraction and loading of timber before a forest road is developed. A road should be given an adequate period of time to settle before any harvesting operations commence. The standard tree clearance width for the construction of a forest road is 15 metres. A felling licence is necessary if trees are to be removed for the construction of a road.

Proper design ensures that a long-lasting harvesting road is produced. Impediments such as rock outcrop, aquatic zones and man-made obstacles such as ESB wires and gas pipelines influence the route of the road. Design methods depend on the soil type present. Peat sites usually require building on top, while a mineral-based soil may be dug out.

Roadside drains and a degree of camber on the road improves the overall drainage and the control of run-off water, and therefore reduce erosion. The design of a forest road is dependent on the intended use.

Construction works should be carried out by competent and experienced contractors, and this is where Barrack Meadow Construction Limited really excels. Road construction is mostly carried out in the spring and summer to minimise site disturbance. Taking time to plan, design and construct the road reduces the amount of maintenance required in the future.

Jack Walsh runs a top-class fleet of excavators, tractors, crushing machines, dump trailers and trucks. He has five excavators, including two 16-tonne Hyundai 145s, two 22-tonne Hyundai 210s and a Hyundai 16-tonne 1160. He also has a Doosan duck, which is used mainly for tree limbing, a Brown Lenox crusher, a New Holland TM190 tractor, a Massey Ferguson 722 tractor, two dump trailers as well as two Volvo FM13 tipper trucks. All machines are serviced and upgraded on a regular basis to eliminate downtime.

Barrack Meadow Construction Limited complies with health and safety procedures for chainsaw operations, e.g. use of personal protective equipment and approved tools. The contractor complies with foresters’ directions to complete jobs to their exact requirements, and also has extensive experience in environmentally sensitive projects.

Among the forests Barrack Meadow Construction has worked in are Derrybrien, Ballycuggaran (Killaloe), Broadford and Slieveanore.

Despite being specialised work, Jack explains how there is plenty of competition out there.

“There are a lot of people at it. Fellas who had machines working on the recently completed Gort-Tuam Motorway are looking to use them elsewhere and to get into this business. We pride ourselves on our excellent service, vast experience and knowledge of road forest construction, and our state-of-the-art plant and equipment. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Coillte and all our other loyal customers for their continued support,” he concludes.

Barrack Meadow Construction Limited

Feakle East,


Co. Clare.

Telephone: 087 2620816

Email: [email protected]

Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 6 No 4, June/July 2018