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In the Woods.

8 Mar

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Wouldn’t this be a nice entrance to one’s home…or maybe it’s a bit too pretentious for a country cottage! This is the old entrance to Kilronan Castle just outside the village of Keadue in County Roscommon. It was here we met today for the second Bards in the Woods of the year. The first was last week at Hazelwood near Sligo but I didn’t get to that one.

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Just beyond the entrance is this impressive folly which is known locally as the Fairy House. It is believed that it was used by the occupants of the castle as a place where they could play at being peasants. The roof is long gone as are the toffs in the castle. Very pretty isn’t it?  The castle has a new lease of life now as a popular hotel.

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As I waited for the others to arrive I walked a little by the shore of Lough Meelagh. Something so very soothing about the sound of lapping water.

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About a dozen people turned up  and we set off happily on our walk. The weather was ideal…sunny but not too warm.

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Spotted this Oak tree with what looks like a deer head growing out of it.

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At the place called The End of the World we rested a while and had a cup of tea.

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John recited a couple of his own compositions here.

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What more could a body want on a beautiful sunny Sunday? Beside a beautiful lake, listening to poetry, the company of good friends and a picnic when we returned to the folly. Perfection!

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A lovely Sunday in the woods!

Ever met a Scoodoo?

12 Mar

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This is a pile of twigs! Before your very eyes it will turn into a Scoodoo. If you want to know more about the tree spirits that are Scoodoos go to http://www.scoodoos.com. Under the tutelage of Ciaran Burke and his wife Hanna from Kilmovee, Co. Mayo we made our very own Scoodoo to go in the garden.

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First you get some fresh branches or long twigs. Don’t use dried out stuff as it will be too brittle. The longer the branches the bigger your Scoodoo will be. So….take some branches and start putting them into a tall 2 litre pot.

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Keep on adding branches until the pot is full.

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Then take a roll of florist’s wire…attach it securely close to the base of one of the branches.

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As you go up and around the branches start pulling the whole thing together with the wire. That’s Ciaran on the left helping Andy with our Scoodoo.

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As you get towards the end it will taper off to form a “nose.” Secure the wire well and there you have it…

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your very own Scoodoo. Well actually this one is ours but you know what I mean!

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Each one is different. These 2 ladies made a skinnier one with a long nose. As we all chatted the lady in blue revealed that she was a follower of my blog. I was chuffed!

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Voila! The finished Scoodoo.

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This is our Scoodoo relaxing at home in the conservatory. A condition of having a Scoodoo is that it is given a name ending in oo. Meet Woowoo who in the next few days will be allocated a space in our garden where Woowoo’s spirit will protect all the trees. Do you fancy a Scoodoo in your garden? Easy to make. Go on…I dare you.

To secure it in the garden just bang a stake into the earth and then slip your Scoodoo over it. Finito!

A favourite haunt.

3 Mar

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Yesterday was the start of National Tree Week in Ireland. To mark the day we went to Knockranny Woods just outside Keadue village. Sadly on this occasion Bards in the Woods were a small group but that made it none  less the enjoyable.

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The flooding from the wettest February on record has not yet receded here.

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No walking on the shore line today.

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Within the forest the stony paths were nice and dry making for a pleasant stroll amongst the trees.

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We spent some time at this clearing where stands my favourite tree in this forest…a majestic Beech.

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Nearby is another Beech of similar size but somehow I feel more drawn to the other tree. It always catches my eye and demands my attention.

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Looking across Lough Meelagh to Kilronan Mountain where the wind turbines turn slowly in the breeze.  Our old place in Arigna lies in the valley beyond the mountain. We could see these turbines from our backyard when we lived there. Just over a year since we moved but somehow it seems longer.

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As evening started to draw in we had a cup of tea and a chat at the picnic table here looking onto the lake. A lovely end to the afternoon.

Forests.

8 Dec

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Forests are places where we can get back in touch with our inner selves,

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where we can get away from the stresses of the world about us,

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where we can breathe in the sounds and scents of nature,

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where for a short time nothing else matters but being there…in the Forest.

Pics from a Sunday walk.

13 Oct

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Another beautiful sunny day today. After picking Andy up from the airport after his weekend trip to Bristol I decided to head off to the shores of Lough Meelagh to join the Woodland Walks, Bards and Picnics outing.  Sadly it was just myself and John Willmott…that however did nothing to lessen the enjoyment.

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The pathway is all along the shore of the lake…it would once have been a pleasure walk for the inhabitants of nearby Kilronan Castle…the landed gentry. We ambled along companionably stopping to take photos or admire some wonder of Nature like this lovely Oak. It must have been coppiced years ago to have grown 4 strong stems.

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Further on this lovely Beech.

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Further still and we came to “The Big Tree.” John said last time he was here there was a sign here with The Big Tree written on it. It really is a very big tree…

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but somehow my photos don’t do it justice. It is a Californian Sequoia…pretty rare in this neck of the woods.

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Beautiful bark.

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We followed the signs to the place called The Edge of the World.

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Interesting stones here and the soothing sound of gently lapping water.

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We sat awhile enjoying the view out to Orchard Island.

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I love the smooth bark on this Beech tree.

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This one seems to be growing from rock.

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After our picnic we stopped at St. Lassiar’s Well where our eyes were drawn to how the setting Sun lit up part of the nearby graveyard.

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From the graveyard Lough Meelagh and the setting Sun in all their beautiful glory.

Woods, moon rocks and hedgerows.

1 Jul

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My last visit to St. John’s Wood was about 14 years ago. The addition of gravel paths since then has greatly improved the access to this woodland which is said to be the oldest in the country. Pollen tests have shown that a wood existed here over 7,000 years ago.

A bit more signage would make this lovely woodland perfect. There is a bothy here…which is a place where charcoal was made…also some of the last surviving Elm trees…we didn’t find those either.

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Don’t know what this is all about but it looks interesting. Maybe its just someone’s artwork…

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After some scrambling about in the undergrowth we managed to find the path to the shore of Lough Ree.  Two beautiful crannogs greeted us here. Crannogs are ancient man made lake dwellings.

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Lots of  lovely interesting rocks here…the locals call them moon rocks.

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Don’t know what causes them to be so pitted. Lots of fossils in the stones…

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and one pyramid shaped stone.

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As evening approached it was time to head for home back through the woods to the carpark where we shared a picnic before disbanding.

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Spotted this lovely old Rose in a hedgerow on the way out. There is the remains of an old cottage here so this is probably a survivor from a once loved cottage garden. The scent is heavenly. I’m going to try and grow this on.

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We stopped near Knockcroghery to snap this fabulous Beech hedge. It’s one of the landmarks I watch for on my journeys back from Tipperary.  It’s always well tended…

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while the lovely cottage behind is running to deriliction. I’ve yet to see anyone trimming the hedge but I always wonder who does it. They are certainly committed to their task.

Off to the Forest.

30 Jun

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With all the madness going on in the world…corrupt Irish bankers scandalous tapes being released, America bugging the EU offices and worst of all Monsanto being the recipient of the World Food Prize…I need a day away from it all. Peace…quiet…beauty…nature. Yes! We’re off to the forest today. Ireland’s oldest forest actually…St. John’s Wood, near Lecarrow in the beautiful county of Roscommon. If anyone cares to join us we will be at the forest entrance at 3 o clock. Otherwise I will tell you all about it tomorrow.

Have a happy Sunday!

Bridget.

Saving our Forests.

20 Jun

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A bit of good news for Ireland yesterday. It was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, that the sale of the harvesting rights of our state owned forests was not to be sold. In the Minister’s own words “now is not the time to proceed with the sale.”

It was also announced that Coillte is to be merged with Bord na Mona. Set up in 1946 for the purpose of peat harvesting… Bord na Mona has now diversified into garden products… waste recovery and renewable energy.  While BNM continues to destroy… actually most of them are destroyed… our bogs… ordinary folks who wish to save enough turf to heat their homes are being prevented from doing so. I digress…what worries me about this proposed merger is the direction that BNM is now taking. With most of the bogs in their ownership almost depleted they are now looking to other ways of making money.

Their recently appointed CEO recently launched the  new direction for the company which is entitled “A New Contract with Nature.”  Well the old contract destroyed the boglands in their care so I wonder what the new one will do.

I come from a small village in north Tipperary called Templetuohy. Bord na Mona was always a big employer here. Now that the bogs have been turned into deserts they have turned to renewable energy here. To be prescise..wind turbines. Lots of wind turbines…I don’t know exactly how many. These…as always…were built despite local opposition…at the beginning. Now more and more are going up and people don’t protest any more. “They will go ahead anyway so why waste our energy fighting a losing battle” is what people say.

So back to the forests. They have been saved…for now. Minister Coveney’s word were “not the appropriate time to sell”, does that mean the appropriate time may come. With Coillte merging with Bord na Mona are they seeing the potential for expansion of their renewable energy operations into the forests? A worrying thought indeed. There have been murmurings already of Coillte’s interest in having wind turbines in their forests. Two thousand wind turbines are to be erected in the Bog of Allen…covering 5 counties…this is going to be a huge blight on the landscape of the midlands.

As you may have guessed by now I don’t like wind turbines. In a small country like Ireland with a spread out population it’s very hard to erect wind turbines without being near someone’s home. People’s health and value of their properties have been ruined by these turbines. In the view of many…including myself…wind turbines should be in the sea.

Keep Ireland’s landscape beautiful…these turbines do not enhance it. Our forests are safe…for now. We must continue to use them…they are our resource…we need to show we care for them…want to continue to protect them. So go to your local forest whenever you can. You will feel refreshed, renewed and relaxed. You will also be helping to protect one of the people’s greatest assets.

In Raheens Wood.

3 Jun

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Yesterday found myself and a couple of friends in Raheens Wood near Castlebar in Co. Mayo. Officially opened by the Taoiseasch on March 3rd of this year it is a collaboration between Coillte and Mayo County Council under the Neighbourwood project.

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Lovely to catch the Bluebells in their fading splendour.

This area has been woodland since the 1840s. Lots of coppiced Hazel here which are very accessible for nut collecting if theres a crop this year.

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Lots of lovely old Oaks here too.  Ash, Alder, Willow and Birch all contribute to make this a very pleasant woodland walk. It’s very civilised with proper paths and strategically placed seats and picnic tables.

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Beautiful countryside views  from the highest point in the woodland. That’s Lough Lannagh in the distance.

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It’s at this spot where the Taoiseach planted a commerative Oak tree on the opening day. There’s also a picnic table and seats here. In retrospect it would have been a better picnic spot than the one we chose lower in the woods. We had to make a quick retreat from there as the midges were crazy.

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In the distance one can see the now ruined Palladian mansion that would once have been the focal point of this area. As is often  the case the trees are the more lasting living legacy from this era.

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I love how this tree has been moulded by the wind and the lie of the land…

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so much more fitting into the landscape than this monstrocity to some long dead person of importance.

Remember folks next Sunday, June 9th, is National Walk in the Woods Day.  It is the Irish people’s chance to let the Government know that “OUR FORESTS ARE NOT FOR SALE.” To find out more about the day and a walk near you go to http://www.bardsinthewoods.com.

A Fox, Clouds and garden progress.

24 May

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Some very strange clouds 2 days ago…unlike any I can ever recall seeing. Hopefully they are the good weather clouds.

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Yesterday evening Andy took the dogs for their daily walk in the woods behind our house. Half an hour later he was back with this wee Fox in his arms. Just a baby….the dogs had attacked her in the forest and would have killed her had Andy not intervened. Once we got the dogs indoors Andy took the Fox baby to where he found her.  Not a great pic but had to share it.

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Garden work continues…a few days ago we gave the pond a good clean out. Everything was overgrown and the Bulrushes still had last year’s dead stems.  Looking a lot better now. In the clean up we found 2 Water Lilies that were completely covered. Hopefully they might flower this year.

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In the front garden the Apple trees are covered in blossoms. Lots of Bumble Bees about so they should be pollinated.

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Everything has really come on the last couple of weeks even though the nights are still quite chilly. The farmers are complaining because the grass is not growing and all the fodder has been eaten. Hay is now being bought in from England and France. Even that is rationed.  If there isn’t some real Summer weather soon the animal welfare problem will seriously escalate. Already many farmers are said to have lost animals due to malnutrition and hunger.

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On the lane everything is looking very lush and green. But as usual the Ash still haven’t leaved out fully yet. They are always last.

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Rhododendron is also about to bloom. These are usually in bloom in the first week of May…so late this year…like so much else.

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I just love the new leaves on the Beech. So fresh and soft when just unfurled. At this stage they can be eaten in a salad. Not particularly flavoursome but wouldn’t  that beautiful green tempt anyone’s palate. It is said that green is the colour of the heart chakra…these beautiful leaves really make my heart feel full of joy.

 

 

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