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Field Studies at Petersburg OEC

Since 1990 Petersburg has run field studies programmes in both Geography and Biology for schools.

The centre is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty between Lough Corrib and Lough Mask.  The glaciated hills of the Partry Mountains and Maamtrasna and the karst limestone plains of the Galway Mayo border provide the ideal backdrop for this outdoor classroom. Access to rivers, caves, woodland, glacial features and lakes is easily gained.

Our aim is to introduce students to the concept of applying geographical and biological theory to the outdoors. The Petersburg approach ensures that what is presented in the final exam is the students own unique and individual attempt. We aim to provide fun, enjoyable programmes while focusing on the essential skills required to carry out field work. We can provide residential or non residential programmes.

Programmes include Leaving Cert Ecology for Biology students and Geographical Investigations for Geography students.

For Ecology students we provide an introduction to data collection techniques followed by a survey of local woodland. See sample itinerary below.

Our Geographical Investigation is in line with the State Exams Commission annual guidelines.

Geographical investigation 2014/2015 Geomorphic processes of Erosion in a fluvial or glaciated environment. See sample itinerary below.

Over the years of experience we have built up a variety of equipment types

Safety equipment offered includes: chest waders, wellies, rain gear, buoyancy aids.

Fieldwork equipment such as conductivity meters, flowmeters, maps, identification keys, soil thermometers, quadrats, line transects, pooters, soil test kits and much much more.

In addition to the above all staff working on your programme are trained in Child Protection and First Aid.

Our programmes are not just for the Senior Cycle student. We can also offer the following programmes

Junior Cert: Introduction to physical geography covering basic elements of River and Glacial theory. Half day programme. Can be combined with adventure activities.

Science for Junior Cert- Introduction to ecology


For Transition year

Adventure programmes can be run with an emphasis on Physical Geography or Ecology. We can also run a day with a half day field Studies and a half day of adventure eg caving, kayaking, canoeing, team building. Revision worksheets can be provided as a follow up for when you are back in the classroom.


What To Bring

  • Wellies or boots
  • Warm clothing, no denim
  • Hat and gloves
  • Spare clothes
  • Waterproofs (Petersburg can supply if necessary)
  • A substantial lunch (with a flask if possible) and plenty of snacks
  • Pencil and Clipboard


For further details call us on 094-9546483. See our Gallery to give a better idea of what’s on offer.


Sample Itineraries

Ecology Field Trip


Arrive at Centre and Registration

10.15 am

Lecture on Ecology basics and Preparation for the day ahead


Familarisation with equipment for data collection. Students sketch all equipment


Break and Prepare for field


Field techniques on centre grounds.Topics covered include Aquatic Invertebrate Investigation, Quadrats, Pitfall traps,Capture-Recapture, Soil pH, Sweep netting, Beating tray.




Depart for woodland site. Line transect, Quadrats,Light readings, Soil pH, Soil Depth, Soil Temperature.


Debrief and return home



Geographical Investigation


Arrive and Register


Revision of topic and prepare for the day. Discuss planning of study. Familiarise with equipment.


Break and Prepare for field work.


Depart for the field


Visit Site 1. Observe, Sketch, Measure and Record. If a river study is chosen measurements will include widths, depths, velocity and bedload.

In a Glaciation study sample measurements include mapping, geology basics, striation direction and feature identification

Depending on the study in question a further 1-3 sites may be visited for comparison purposes.

Results will be compiled and shared over a quick snack in the field.


Return to the centre. Safety equipment is returned.




Depart for home.




Meet the Team


Trish Walsh is the Director of Petersburg OEC but her background is in adventure sports and geography. She loves to travel to interesting landscapes around the world. She is a qualified teacher of Physical Education and Geography with a Post Graduate Diploma in Outdoor Education.  The location of Petersburg has developed her interest in geology, archaeology, ecology, botany and landscape studies. She is very experienced in field work and has developed the field studies programme at Petersburg from the start. She is passionate about developing people’s ability to “read the landscape” whether they are hill walkers, canoeists or geography teachers. She often describes herself as a landscape translator, revealing the hidden secrets that result from geological, geomorphological and ecological processes over millions of years. Trish loves being out in the field with people of all ages from primary school children, to Leaving Certificate students to older people on a recreational walk.


Yvonne Croal has worked as Field Studies Tutor at Petersburg OEC since 2005. She graduated with an honours degree in Environmental Science from NUI, Galway. During this time she studied ecology, botany, earth science and zoology. She spent summer months on working holidays abroad and one wonderful summer working as a guide at Connemara National Park. It was from here that her love of teaching young and young at heart in the outdoors blossomed. She has also worked as an ecologist for the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Through her work in Petersburg OEC, Yvonne has worked on programmes from Young Explorers, for 7-9 year olds, to FETAC Level 6 Marine and Countryside Guiding. She enjoys teaching young people to apply the theory they’ve learned in school to the outdoor classroom, introducing new skills and aims to awaken a desire in people to learn more about our planet. Yvonne appreciates life in the outdoors, her interests include flora, fauna and associated folklore.

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Petersburg Outdoor
Education Centre,
Co. Galway,

Tel: 094 954 6483
Fax: 094 954 6705

From Outside Ireland Call:
+353 94 954 6483