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Category Archives: Eco-tourism

TripAdviser comments: Glenribbeen + Archery in Waterford Museum.

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Glenribbeen Eco Lodge – +35354499 or call Peter direct on +353866017176

Glenribbeen Eco LodgeTripAdviser comments

Glenribbeen:

“Friendly, Quiet, and Great Food!”

Reviewed 8 November 2011

We were greeted with a toasty warm wood stove going, and Els right away brought out some tea and cookies, which we enjoyed by the fire while reading their many books about Ireland and the local area. The lodge is very tastefully decorated, without all of that stuffy Victorian pink lace and doily decoration you can typically find in a B&B. Upon reading the other reviews, I have to agree that the breakfast was amazing. Our first morning we had Dutch pancakes with rashers and maple syrup. I’m still dreaming of it. Second morning we had the baked eggs, which were also fantastic. And the coffee was strong and delicious, a serious concern of ours in a country that drinks a lot of tea.

Peter is an incredibly interesting man and he would come out in the morning to talk to us while we waited for breakfast. I could have sat there all day listening to him (and eating Els’s pancakes). He recommended several things for us to see and do, while giving us mini history lessons in everything from the Titanic to why they drive on the left side of the road. I wish we made some time for an archery lesson with him.

The whole place is very clean and everything has been thought of in an eco-conscious way. Yes, the bed is creaky as are the floor boards. We got used to it after our first night. Once you convince yourself it’s all part of the charm, you start to roll with it. The surrounding countryside is totally quiet and peaceful. A squeaky bed is a very small price to pay for a fantastic stay in a beautiful location with great hosts and insanely delicious breakfasts. I’d go back in a heartbeat. Make sure you get a chance to feed the hens some grapes!

  • Stayed November 2011, travelled as a couple

 

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“Lovely would definately recommend Baked Eggs for breakfast!”

Reviewed 25 August 2011

I stayed at the Lodge as we were attending a wedding locally, our room was lovely clean and bright there was everything you need hairdryer, kettle, books, local guides etc right down to a chocolate snack biscuit on a tray and a carafe of water, we were asked what we would like for breakfast and as a I don’t eat meat I have gotten used to beans on toast with a tomato thrown in but as Els and Peter are vegetarians I received a wonderful plate of fresh fruit garnished with flowers, followed by the house special of baked eggs delicious! fresh orange, breads, cereals you name it the choices. I work in Tourism and I was very impressed with the hospitality and service received, B&B prices were very reasonable.

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled as a couple

 

 

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“Wonderful hospitality in a beautiful place. Top notch!!!”

Reviewed 14 August 2011

Peter and Els are wonderful people and right from the moment we met them, I knew we made the right choice of a place in Lismore. Their home is in a beautiful setting a short distance from the town of Lismore and quite an experience with gardens, hens, two wonderfully friendly dogs and within an easy walk to a river where the salmon fishers are busy. The house itself has a wonderfully large and comfortable dining/sitting area where breakfast is served and where we often found ourselves spending time chatting with Peter and/or Els and enjoying a cup of tea or coffee after a day of sightseeing. We learned A LOT of history about Ireland and Peter let us read books from his extensive library…one of which we borrowed and will send back. I had thought the breakfasts were great up to this point on our trip, but Peter and Els really go over the top with beautiful presentation and extraordinary and delicious food. I guarantee that you will not get a better breakfast in Ireland!!! Peter and Els are very approachable and helpful. A couple of evenings, we picked up some meat to BBQ and Peter set up the grill and provided the dishes, etc… We never felt rushed in our time with them as they always seemed to have time for whatever need or question we had. The room was comfortable and clean and had a TV/DVD combo in it. I loved the snacks and waters! Overall a great experience and highly recommended!!!

  • Stayed August 2011, travelled with family

 

 

“BEST B&B in Ireland”

Reviewed 2 August 2010

From the moment we arrived we were in heaven, we were treated with such a warm welcome. Peter was always willing to chat and eager to make our stay as pleasent as possible.we ate amazing breakfasts- such good options on the menu with fresh fruit and amazing homemade brown bread on the side! the atmosphere in the lodge was very relaxed and we made the most of the amazing servies which the lovely couple provided such as use of their canoe, bikes, various fishing equiptment, instruments, books, garden hammock, kites and BBQ… Iv never even heard of such extras being provied in another B&B… expecially as its half the price!! we even had a 5 star hotel booked for the last night and cancelled becuase we would rathar the tranquil surroundings of Glenribbeen lodge!! they made our stay amazing, offering information, conversation and even lifts to and from the pub. would recomend it to absolutly everyone and cant wait to return.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple

 

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Experience Medieval Archery

Reviews from Museum of Medieval Treasures, Waterford.

TripAdviser reviews of Archery Through the Ages.

http://www.tripadvisor.ie/Archery & Waterford

Getting a strainght-line.

Demonstrating ‘Tip – nock – hand – elbow’ to create a straight line to enhance accuracy.

“Visit to the Medieval Museum of Waterford”

Reviewed 14 July 2015

I’ve had a delightful weekend in Waterford city and the Museum was one of the best experiences of all. However what really stood out by me was the archery lesson I got in the museum. The person ‘Peter’ who introduced me to archery was greatly animated which made it an altogether enjoyable experience for me. He managed to introduce me to some skills and I was able to shoot arrows successfully and this was all combined with his abundance of knowledge about the history of archery. His lesson was like a throw back into medieval times; no visit to the museum would be complete without an archery lesson!

Visited June 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r288682037-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

Reviewed 7 January 2015

Waterford’s Museum of Medieval Treasures has a great policy of bring things to life and getting enthusiastic people in to show some real crafts and skills as practised in 9th – 16th century Waterford (Ireland’s oldest city). A famous glass-cutter is working in the foyer and below are figures from history demonstrating coin-minting and archery (have a go!!) as well as displaying wood and leather work and tools.

Visited January 2015

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“wonderful museum”

Reviewed 19 July 2015

Interestingly laid out history of the area. Not just the usual dusty chronological arrangement. Best part for us was the medieval archery tutorial and lesson given just inside the door by a local savant, Peter O’Connor .

Visited June 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r290531037-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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“Peter, the medieval archer, was the best part!”

Reviewed 4 August 2015

Visited this museum in July 2015 and the best part was meeting Peter, the archer! He’s stationed right at the front door, ready to give you an amazing talk about medieval archery and teach you how to shoot the longbow. He’s an absolute wealth of information and very engaging to speak with. I enjoyed meeting him so much I’ve taken to following him on his Facebook page “Archery Through the Ages”, where he regularly supplies interesting historical points and plenty of posts of his daily visitors at the museum. It’s obvious he enjoys what he does!

The museum was fantastic. It takes approximately 45m to go through with the provided audio guide. The Cloth of Gold Vestments from the 1400s are the highlight of the exhibitions.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r295813650-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Medevial times bought to life”

Reviewed 23 July 2015

this is a great museum and shows what life in Waterford was like in the dark ages with great displays and live action such as the archery display with the long bow. well worth a visit. unfortunately we didnt give ourselves a lot of time as we were only intending to visit the Crystal factory and stumbled across this museum and teh viking quarter. I would recommend that you ive yourself a full day to visit these three attractions as well as Waterford city itself which is stunning.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r291686087-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Interesting day out”

Reviewed 9 July 2015

Fantastic fun. We had a 6 year old and a 2 year old with us and they both enjoyed it. We got a guided tour from the Curator himself and he made it very interesting and quite funny also. There was also a man in the lobby who was teaching archery and all about different types of bows and arrows….needless to say that the 6 year old LOVED that! It only cost €14 for the guided tour, and we were able to go back around as often as we liked on our own afterwards.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r287096441-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

House of Glass

“Thoroughly enjoyed!”

Reviewed 2 July 2015 via mobile

We visited here on Wednesday 1st July and on arrival, we were greeted by an archer. What a lovely and knowledgeable man! Very much enjoyed our chat with him and my husband loved the small archery demonstration. Then we had the luck of being on the guided tour with the museum director….what a treat! A pleasure to view the museum with a man so truly passionate about it…full of interesting anecdotes and stories. My husband is NOT a fan of museums….he came purely because I wanted to go. But he loved it and really enjoyed the tour. I would highly recommend this to everyone…in my eyes, it’s a must-do in the wonderful city of Waterford.

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r285035117-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

 

“Above expectations – better than Wford Crystal!”

Reviewed 31 August 2015

Was thinking about going to Waterford Crystal but realised how boring that would be. Ducked into the Medieval Museum and went on the guided tour. Found it highly informative and good fun. Archery lessons on hand for 5euro! Downstairs cave is great and the coin press is fun. Floors one and two have some interesting stuff but really do recommend the guided tour to get the most out of it. Our tour guide was really excellent, nice young lady, good humour. The shop is FANTASTIC with helmets and glass cutting live.

Visited August 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r305189201-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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And release…

“never knew waterford was so interesting .”

Reviewed 26 July 2015

we were met at the entrance by a chap in medieval gear who offered to demonstrate the intricacies and development of medieval archery . what followed was one of the most interesting and absorbing 45 mins in a museum ever . the guide , peter ,was a mine of fascinating and enjoyable facts and figures coupled with an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject , all delivered in a witty and friendly manner. an expiring parking meter forced us to leave or we would have stayed much longer .
we returned the next day and spent several hours touring the rest of the museum .a well laid out series of exhibits explained by knowledgeable guides armed with lots of relevant background information meant we spent a thoroughly enjoyable and informative day .(still preferred the bows and arrows) . wonderful !

Visited July 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r292614211-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

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“A Must-Do Experience In Waterford”

Reviewed 10 September 2015

Notwithstanding that we have been in Waterford on a few occasions since the Medieval Museum opened in 2013, we just thought it would not be worth the time.

Then, earlier this week, we were invited on a tour of the museum and thought we would see what’s on offer.

Well, we were very impressed.

This is much more than a museum; more a series of living history experiences that is brought to life by a team of passionate staff. As soon as you enter, the experiences unfold in front of you with archery demonstrations. You can even get an archery lesson for an additional €5.

Being on a guided tour will make a huge difference to your experience. Our guide was excellent and contextualised the history of Waterford against the backdrop of Irish, British and European history.

All the exhibits are presented in an informative fashion. The piece-de-resistance must be the gold-braided vestments and the story about how they were uncovered. We won’t spoil it by revealing more on here.

In conclusion, we thoroughly enjoyed our experiences at The Medieval Museum. It is great value too at €7.

Visited September 2015
http://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowUserReviews-g186638-d319005-r309205371-Waterford_Treasures_Medieval_Museum-Waterford_County_Waterford.html#

sigtrygg-lord-mayor

Archery in Museum of Medieval Treasures, Waterford.

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Deidre decided to be daring

Deidre decided to be daring.

Have a go archery at the Waterford Museum of Medieval Treasures.

Learn - or die

Learn – or die.    I’ve found teaching medieval archery to be a great way to meet people and help develop their self-confidence.

Getting a strainght-line.

Demonstrating ‘Tip – nock – hand – elbow’ to create a straight line to enhance accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Darragh bring home the bacon.

Knuckles and fingers.

Knuckles and fingers.

 

Experience Medieval Archery has been launched within Waterford’s Museum of Treasures. Workshops on medieval crafts and archery. A hands-on active-display where various and changing working-craft areas will be established and the use of longbows (warbows) will be demonstrated and various arrows from bone-head to flint to drop-forged to tempered armour-piercing warheads. After demonstration visitors will be offered the chance to pull a long bow and loose real arrows.And buy bows and accessories.
This will be facilitated by the Museum and supported by various other state bodies. The workshop will also continue to tour medieval (Heritage) days, folk-festivals, schools and corporate events that help senior staff bring focus and fun to their work.
The whole workshop can be easily moved and set up in an open space where a medieval tent will add colour and protection with professional archery netting to provide safety.

Special Offers for Glenribbeen

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Special Offers for Glenribbeen – Glenribbeen Eco Lodge website: http://www.glenribbeen.com

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This is a WIP (work in Progress) as I learn to use this new (for me) facility.

We intend to offer our guests to this eco-blog the chance to avail of a great Spring offer for Glenribbeen. Please come back soon – after I get this all figured out 🙂

St Declan’s Way – Ireland’s new ‘Camino’ in the Irish Times

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This article is a thought-piece on the ‘new’ St Declan’s Way pilgrim’s highway that I’m PRO on the Waterford side and the subject of my postgraduate certificate from Trinity St David, Bangor, Wales. Delighted to be part of it and this Friday (26th) I get to cook for all near the top of the mountain! while dressed as a monk!

Irish Times article; http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/the-irish-camino-walking-in-the-footsteps-of-the-saints-1.1468942

The Irish Camino: walking in the footsteps of the saints

Local communities throughout the country are developing old pilgrim trails

John G O’Dwyer  Sat, Jul 20, 2013,    

Imagine celebrating our national feast day, not in March, but in high summer. Hard to visualise the occasion with bikinis, barbecues and beach badminton isn’t it? Yet it could have happened, because July 24th is the day of commemoration of an early Irish saint whose credentials are comparable to those of St Patrick.Regarded by many historians as having pre-dated Patrick as an Irish Christian missionary, St Declan of Ardmore is, nevertheless, virtually unknown outside his native area. The murky world of medieval church politics has much to answer for here. It allowed the deeply venerated saint of the southern Déise region to fade from the public consciousness when the northern church rose to prominence. History was then adroitly rewritten to suit the needs of the time, with Patrick, the first Bishop of Armagh, promulgated above Declan as the initial and single-handed evangeliser of the Irish people.Now Waterford’s patron saint is to reclaim his inheritance. An ancient pilgrim trail that he footed regularly is set to be traversed again as a richly symbolic journey. Meandering 94km through extravagantly varied terrain in Cos Tipperary and Waterford, the newly revitalised St Declan’s Pilgrim Path commemorates the saint’s many excursions from his monastery at Ardmore to the royal seat at Cashel.Overgrown and virtually forgotten for decades, the trail is, mainly through the efforts of a Tipperary man, being returned to public consciousness. Dense briars and rhododendrons have been diligently cut back in preparation for the first full-length public walk of the route, which takes place from July 24th to 28th.And so on a bright, blue-sky, July morning, I find myself rambling rustic lanes by the River Tar and traversing timeless monastic ruins at a point where the handsome Knockmealdown Mountains erupt spectacularly from the fertile plains of Tipperary. With me are Kevin O’Donnell, the instigator of the pilgrim path project, and some members of Knockmealdown Active, the volunteer group that is staging the inaugural St Declan’s walk.

An ‘Irish Camino’
O’Donnell, the group’s chairman, comes across as a quietly passionate believer in the venture. He conceived the idea for revitalising St Declan’s Pilgrim Path when he walked the Camino de Santiago, in Spain, some years ago. Now he wants to dub St Declan’s Path an “Irish Camino” and immediately points to the strong penitential credentials of the trail from Cashel to Ardmore.

“It takes five days to complete and goes up to more than 500 metres when crossing the Knockmealdown Mountains by the prehistoric Bottleneck Pass route,” says O’Donnell. “This needn’t put people off, though; the first two days from Cashel and the last days to the coast are on easy terrain. Walkers without the fitness or time to do the full journey will have the option to join for stages of the route.”

As we dally by the riverbank to absorb the serenity, Conor Ryan, who works as an animator with Knockmealdown Active, suggests that with the number of pilgrims completing the Camino rising to more a quarter of a million in recent years, the time is now opportune to revitalise the path .

But can South Tipperary and Waterford really capture a slice of the rapidly growing and lucrative reverential trails market? Ryan believes so.

“This month’s inaugural walk is part of a strategy to turn St Declan’s Path into a fully functioning Irish pilgrim route,” says Ryan.

He believes the trail will, in future, “appeal strongly to walking enthusiasts because of its length and variety. I also expect it to attract visitors who have family ties linking them to the towns and villages along the route,” he says.

But how is it all going to work for the reopening walk? “Accommodation or car parking will be at each day’s destination, with participants bussed from there to the walk start point each morning, from where they will walk the pilgrim route to their cars or their accommodation,” says O’Donnell. “The participation fee is €70 for five days, or €20 per day. Full details are at knockmealdownactive.com.”
St Finbarr’s trail
In a similar vein, two communities in Co Cork have expended monumental effort on developing a pilgrim trail along the way St Finbarr reputedly journeyed on his way to found a monastery at Gougane Barra. Since then, a tradition of walking the 30km path, particularly on St Finbarr’s Day, September 25th, has developed. The route has been fully waymarked as a year-round pilgrim path and is being promoted as the “Cork Camino experience,” says David Ross, spokesman for the Drimoleague/Keakill St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Path Committee.

“Besides the obvious tourism benefit,” says Ross, “communities along the route are happy to discover and share the rich Christian heritage, which for centuries prompted their forbears to walk St Finbarr’s Pilgrim Way in search of solace, meaning and spiritual fulfilment.”
Clare and south Galway
Another route with spiritual resonance on an epic scale is the newly inaugurated Clare Pilgrim Way. Ireland’s longest redemptive trail circuits Cos Clare and south Galway in five stages, linking all the main spiritual and ecclesiastical sites in the area.

According to Pius Murray, a member of the community-based group behind the venture, “The Clare Pilgrim Trail is aimed at facilitating users to reconnect with nature and through this experience develop a heightened sense of spirituality.”

Here, Murray succinctly captures the essence of the ageless siren call that is increasingly drawing lovers of inspirational landscapes to explore Ireland’s mystical pilgrim paths.

NEW NATURAL HISTORY SERIES ON RTE 1 AND CAPE CLEAR COURSES

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New Natural History series on RTE 1 and Cape Clear courses

Subtitle for your message

IWDG were once again delighted to be invited to contribute to a Crossing the Line natural history production and the “whale” show recorded off Dunmore East on Martin Colfer’s MV Rebecca C back in Jan 2012 will air on Sun 9th June on RTE Radio 1 at 7:00 pm.  A full schedule of this 10 part series is given below.  For those of you who have missed the first two shows, they are available at:

NATURE ON ONE

10 x 30min Natural History Radio Documentary Series

STARTS SUNDAY 5th MAY 2013 on Radio 1 at 7pm

Bringing the sounds of Ireland’s natural world to Radio 1 listeners

This ten-part radio documentary series sees Emmy award-winning wildlife cameraman and television presenter Colin Stafford Johnson turn his talents to radio. Colin travels across the country on the hunt for some of our most remarkable animals and wild places. Tune in and allow yourself to be transported to Skellig Michael, with its noisy storm petrels, manx shearwaters and puffins; or into the midst of a grey seal colony on the windswept Inishkea Islands; venture below ground and imagine yourself being surrounded by swarming bats; or experience the sounds recorded inside a starling roost under a Belfast bridge. Over the course of ten weeks, Colin will guide his audience on an intimate tour of Ireland’s natural world.

A Crossing the Line Production on behalf of RTÉ Radio One & BAI Sound & Vision

EPISODE 1 

A Night on the Skellig Rocks

In 600AD early Christian monks chose Skellig Michael, 11km off the Kerry coast, as a location for a monastery ‘on the edge of the known world’ which they believed would bring them closer to God. In this episode Colin Stafford Johnson spends a night on Skellig Michael, to record the wild sounds to be heard at this World Heritage Site – introducing the puffins, storm petrels and manx shearwaters who also choose to make their home on this rocky outcrop. In addition to meeting its wild inhabitants, Colin talks to OPW guides who spend the summer living on the island, and tourists who have made the day trip; as well as a local diver who describes the Skellig landscape below the surface.

EPISODE  2 

The Burren: a special place for bumblebees, plants and people

Colin Stafford Johnson visits Slieve Carron Nature Reserve in the Burren, Co. Clare. The Burren is unique and is known throughout the world for its vast limestone pavements, but far from being a barren landscape, as Dr Brendan Dunford explains, the Burren holds a diverse flora, a mix of Mediterranean and alpine plants found nowhere else in Ireland. It is also home to some of Ireland’s rarest bumblebees. When you hear Ecologist Dr Jane Stout’s take on bumblebees you will never see a passing bee the same way again, but as furry, endearing creatures!

Colin learns about the Burren Farming for Conservation Programme and meets local farmer Pat Nagle. We also meet 13-year-old Jack McGann, graduate of Ecobeo, a course for young people on the natural, cultural and archaeological heritage value of this landscape.

EPISODE 3

The Seal Colony of the Inishkeas

Colin Stafford Johnson joins grey seal expert Dr Oliver O’Cadhla on a visit to South Inishkea, off the Mullet Peninsula, home to one of Ireland’s largest grey seal breeding colonies. Having spent years researching the seals at this colony, Oliver is passionate about this place and these animals and explains their struggle to survive in this harsh environment. It’s mid-October and very cold. There are lots of pups on the beach, but they won’t all make it. The mothers are busy feeding their young, while the large dominant male seals protect their harem. On this remote wild island, we get a peek into the secret lives of the grey seals that are born there.

EPISODE 4 

Species in Danger

In this episode of ‘Nature on One’, Colin Stafford Johnson seeks out one of our most endangered species, the curlew. Searching across bog in Co. Mayo, Colin sets out to record the once familiar call of this iconic bird of Irish peatlands and Ireland’s largest wader. Anita Donaghy, from Birdwatch Ireland, explains why the curlew is in decline and their ‘Cry of the Curlew’ campaign. [see http://www.birdwatchireland.ie/Ourwork/CryoftheCurlewAppeal/tabid/1106/Default.aspx]

Colin also wants to find out how some of our smaller, lesser known species – our snails and slugs – are doing. With a third of Irish mollusc species facing extinction, Colin is delighted to hear some good news for one species in Co. Longford as he meets up with Evelyn Moorkens to investigate a recently discovered site for one of our most rare animals, Desmoulins Whorl Snail, Vertigo moulinsiana.

EPISODE 5 

Rise of the Pine Marten

Historically widespread throughout the country, the pine marten suffered serious population decline due to habitat destruction, hunting for the fur trade; accidental poisoning and persecution by game-keepers so that, by the 1950s, it had become one of our rarest animals. But now the pine marten is on the rise once again and sightings are increasing across the midlands. Colin visits a small school in Co. Leitrim, in which a female pine marten chose to set up home and the pupils explain how they felt about this new addition to their school. Colin also explores the impact of this spread of the pine marten on other animals, meeting up with Emma Sheehy from NUI Galway in an Offaly woodland, where she is studying the interesting relationship between the pine marten, the red squirrel and the introduced grey squirrel.

EPISODE 6   Sunday 9th May, 7:00 pm

Whaling off Hook Head

Colin Stafford Johnson heads offshore with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, from Dunmore East, Co. Waterford, to try to find the second largest animal on earth, the fin whale. No less than 24 species of whales and dolphins have been recorded in Irish waters, ranging in size from the harbour porpoise to the blue whale, the largest animal that has ever lived. Will they manage to track down what is known as the greyhound of whale species, the fin whale?

EPISODE 7 

The Secret Life of Irish Caves – from swarming bats to ancient bones

Late one Autumn night, Colin Stafford Johnson heads underground to explore what wildlife might be found in Irish caves. Colin meets bat specialist Conor Kelleher in Dunmore Cave, Co. Kilkenny, where they hope to witness the autumnal swarming of Natterer’s bats. This phenomenon of Autumnal swarming in caves was only discovered in Ireland last year, and it is still not known why the bats do it – using up valuable fat reserves just as their winter hibernation approaches.

In addition to this living wildlife spectacle, caves are also important repositories for our extinct fauna. To find out why this is and what has been found in Irish caves, Colin heads to the Natural History Museum to meet Nigel Monaghan, Curator, and to examine some of the ancient remains found in Irish caves.

EPISODE 8

The Wild Side of Belfast

We tend to think of wildlife as living in pristine countryside, in woodland, rivers and bogs, but this week Colin Stafford Johnson heads to the bustling city of Belfast to find out what wild stories it might have to offer. The River Lagan flows right through the centre of the city. Ronald Surgenor, is a Wier operative, Department of Culture, Arts, and Leisure, and RSPB volunteer, who knows the river intimately and Ronald kindly takes Colin out in his rib, to visit Albert Bridge, the site of an amazing wildlife display, a starling murmuration, and they venture right under the bridge for a close encounter with the birds as they roost for the night.

Colin also meets Lucille Coates and some children from ‘Watch this Space’, a Belfast City Council monthly nature club; as well as a team of volunteers who are hedgelaying, with the Laganscape Project, which works to manage Lagan Valley Park, with involvement from local communities, school groups, businesses and volunteers.

EPISODE 9       

Birdsong – why do birds sing and what does it mean to us humans?

Colin Stafford Johnson explores that wildlife sound we often take for granted – birdsong. At the Devil’s Glen in Co. Wicklow, he meets up with Animal Behaviour expert and Head of the Zoology Department in Trinity College Dublin, Dr Nicola Marples, to ask her why birds sing, and how they learn their tunes. Colin also travels west to meet with Gordon Darcy, Natural History author, artist and environmental educator, to discuss what birdsong might mean for human beings and how it may enrich our lives, whether or not we recognise it.

EPISODE 10 

‘An Amphibian Love Story’ – Singing frogs and Nattering Toads

How does one attract the opposite sex? It could be good looks, physical fitness, a nice home, or even how you smell! But what about how you sound? In some animals it’s all in the voice. Toads and frogs have developed impressive calls to attract a mate. In this episode, Colin Stafford Johnson looks at two of Ireland’s amphibians, the common frog and the Natterjack Toad, and sets out to record their unique calls. In February he explored a mass frog spawning site at Glendalough in Co. Wicklow with Rob Gandola, from the Irish Herpetological Society; and in April, Ferdia Marnell, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and local conservation ranger Pascal Dower visit a Natterjack Toad breeding pond at Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry.

IWDG Cape Clear Whale-Watching courses

There are still some places left on the 1st of our summer weekend whale-watching courses May 31- June 2nd on Cape Clear, Co. Cork. These courses are available for members at a discounted rate of €70.  Over the weekend participants will learn both practical field-skills during land and boat based watches, as well as attend a series of talks covering cetacean ecology/biology, species identification and whale watching.  Given reasonable weather conditions these weekends generally provide sightings of porpoises, common dolphins and minke whales and at this time of year, we can’t rule out basking sharks, although admitedly this has been a very poor year to date for this species, due to the lower than normal water temperatures.

Enquiries to email: padraig.whooley@iwdg.ie or Ph. 353 (0)86 3850568

Whale Watch Ireland 2013, Sunday 18th August 2013, 2:00-5:00 pm

We are once again delighted to announce that Inis, Cologne www.perfume.ie are providing funding support for All-Ireland whale watch day on Sunday 18th August. As always this event requires watch leaders willing to lead and promote your local watch.  If you have land- based whale watching experience, are good with crowds and have some energy and time to spare, we’d appreciate your contacting us, so we can start to compile a list of sites that we can cover on this event, which is one of the largest events on the Irish wildlife calender.  Please contact event organiser on email: padraig.whooley@iwdg.ie or Ph. 086-3850568

Swimming pool – au natural

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A Natural Swimming Pool That Works for You

By John Robb (Resilient Communities). http://www.resilientcommunities.com/?inf_contact_key=284fdcfb53503b6d362a75d5644c49bb571874cfb5a179fc85273259247b692e

Robb writes on all sorts of interesting topics – here he teams up with  Shlok Vaidya as contributer

When I was a pilot, I spent years surveying the built environment from above.

One thing that amazed me is how many people own swimming pools.  In some areas of the country, it seems that nearly everyone has a pool (in some cases, the pool is almost as big as the footprint of the home itself).

But things have changed.  We don’t have the luxury of allocating that much space to a sterile, unproductive pool of water that requires constant attention and financial support?

We need to put that space to work.

But are there any other options?  Is it possible to build a pool that does more than just support our playtime?

I believe there is.   It’s called a natural pool.

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The natural pool, doesn’t fight nature tooth and nail.  It embraces it in a very tangible way.

Instead of engaging in chemical warfare, the natural pool uses an ecosystem of plants to cleanse and filter your swimming water.  To do this, designers create a wetland in a shallow and distinct area of a pool to act as a biological filter.

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This include the following components:

  • Microorganisms. For example, zooplankton eat algae to keep your water clear.
  • Aquatic plants. They absorb the nutrients that the bacteria break down. Indigenous plants are used as much as possible. You can also grow edible plants, for example, rice, watercress, or wasabi.
  • An inert substrate. This way the plants are forced to draw their nutrients from the water itself, thereby keeping the water clean.
  • Retaining wall. Enables water flow between the two areas but prevents the plants from doing so.

In practice, the shallow water of the wetland area is circulated into the deeper water of the swimming pool.

This circulation enables your bio-filter to cleanse the water as it goes. Upkeep is minimal – one simply has to trim the plants as necessary and remove fallen leaves.

There are no chemicals to buy, minimal electricity costs (one pump), and no PH level monitoring. If needed, the bio-filter can be supplemented with an automated skimmer or UV sanitizer.

As an added bonus, because the wetland is a distinct area, it can be added to an existing pool in a retrofit with minimal additional digging.

Resiliently Yours,

 JOHN ROBB;- Resilient communities.

PS: Because the pool is designed for circulating water, the threat of mosquitoes is minimized.  Additionally, wildlife (frogs, dragonflies) will be attracted to the vegetation-filled part of the pool you don’t swim in. They’ll provide a free pest management service.  In contrast, when a chemically treated pool isn’t maintained, it can quickly collapse into a cesspool of larva (as we saw during the foreclosure tsunami a couple of years ago).

PPS:  I’ve been experimenting with aquascaped environments over the last couple of months, and I can attest that these systems can take care of themselves if you build the system correctly.

Resilient communities editor, Shlok Vaidya, contributed to this letter.

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Natural swimming pools provide all of the fun of a standard swimming pool, but without the chemicals and the maintenance.    As you can see below, a natural pool system can turn a recreational pool into a productive asset rather than merely a chemically laced cost center.

Planted ponds

The secret to a natural pools is something called a biofilter.  To clean the pool, you pump water through the biofilter (images via Gartenart).

GartenArt

What is a biofilter?  It’s usually made with porous rocks or gravel.  Essentially, any material that has nooks and crannies that bacteria can breed in.  With a biofilter, you actually want the bacteria to grow because they eat the pollutants in the water, cleansing it in the process.

Friends of St Declan’s Way.

Posted on

Friends of St Declan’s Way.

E-zine. Issue 1. Feb 2013

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For more details on Friends of St Declan’s Way contact Conor Ryan, Conservation and Trails Animator, South Tipperary Development Company. Phone 087 7378123 or email conorjryan@gmail.com.

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