Tag Archives: Ireland

Teach Saileach – Willow Room

On a sunny day last week, I got a sneak preview of the new Teach Saileach or Willow Room at the Country Life Museum in Turlough, Co Mayo.

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Sunshine through willow of Teach Saileach

On Sight 2017, was a community arts project, funded by Mayo County Council, in partnership with the National Museum. The Willow Room is one of several willow sculptures created in the grounds of Turlough Park, by the talented Mayo Art Squad. The artists used local willow and traditional basket making techniques.

Willow House

Willow Room

I was privileged the following day to be the first person to use the Willow room as an outdoor classroom for a group of pupils from a local primary school. We used the space as our classroom before exploring the wood for bugs and other mini-beasts.  The bug hotel is also a new addition to the woodland.

The room made a wonderful outdoor classroom. Pictured below are just  a couple of the other willow sculptures that can be viewed as part of the Willow trail.

The artists involved in the project were: Mick Smyth (coordinator), Brendan Timlin, Kevin MacNeely, David McInerney, Saw Tun, Sanita Vecbrale, Paul O’Driscoll and Aidan Crotty

Hoverflies

Hoverflies are important pollinators of our crops. There are about 180 species of hoverfly in Ireland. Some like the one below resemble wasps or bees. They don’t have stings, but by pretending to a species that does they can perhaps avoid predation!

Chrysotoxum bicinctum

Chrysotoxum bicinctum

 

Drone Bumblebees

Male bumblebees, also know as drones as pretty transient. They don’t hang about for long. Once they leave their nest they fly around for a few weeks looking for females to mate with and then, job done, they just die off. It is the new females queens that will hibernate and start a new colony the following spring.

This year, drones of both Early Bumblebees and Heath Bumblebees are appearing earlier than expected here in Ireland. No one is quite sure why yet. It may be due to the strange weather we are experiencing, or it could be that these species are having two generations a year.

Many drone bees can be distinguished by the yellow hairs on their faces. The drone will often fly further than the females. So while this is the second year I have seen Heath bumble drones in my garden, I have yet to see a female Heath.

Heath Bumblebee

Heath Bumblebee (Bombus jonellus)

And I near forgot to add solstice greetings!!

A week in celebration of pollinators?

In the United States, they are celebrating Pollinator Week (19-25th June). In Britain, they have a Pollinator Awareness Week which runs in July. Isn’t it time we in Ireland did something similar? After all pollinators are in decline worldwide and we can all do our bit to help pollinators in our local areas.

So this week I hope to post a few extra pollinator posts to start an “Irish Pollinator Week” of sorts. I will post the posts here and on a blog I share with a friend, Wild Pollinator Gardens.

And I ask each of you, where ever you are in the world, to think about posting at least one pollinator post or photo over this next week.

Pollinator week

Union Wood

A couple of weeks ago we visited Union Wood in County Sligo. The bluebells were amazing.

Union Wood is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) due to the presence of old sessile oak woodland. Today,  the woodland is mixed and includes commercial forestry and is part owned by Coillte and the NPWS.

The wood was once part of the Cooper Estate, The Cooper family had acquired the land in the mid-17th century under the Cromwellian settlement. Prior to which it was owned by an old Irish family, the McDonaghs.

There are two looped walking trails to enjoy, one 4km and the other 5.5km long.