Saturday, 26 April 2014


The day started at about 4-30 a.m, as it always does whenever the First Light filters through the curtains. My time of rising varies throughout the year, subjected as I am to the Sun. The one blessing is that now that I am retired I can always slip back into bed for a short sleep. 

The Waning Crescent at 5-00 this morning 26th April.
Sunrise was at 6-10. We are approx GMT -30 minutes.

Our bathroom goddess Boann.

We have given our bathroom a going over (a make over) and she who has been gracing the wall above our bath was included in the process. Mrs H gave her |(Boann) a repaint plus with the addition of crystals, pearls and shells. In candlelight she positively glows
giving the setting a peaceful atmosphere, whilst one relaxes in a hot bath.

A 6 year old Pear Tree

I have never seen so much blossom on our pear tree, unfortunately if we are to have any decent sized fruit, we shall have to drastically remove many of the small pears. For  I think that it were let go then many of it's slender branches would break off.

A macro shot of a pear floret.

While  taking a few photo's of the tree I was unable to resist the beauty of the floret.

A mixed fruit cheesecake.

This last photo is actually some research. That Mrs H and I felt that we had to undertake, in order to fully prepare for our visitors who will be descending on us early next month.
Our unanimous verdict is that this cheesecake is one of the finest that either of us has ever tasted. In a word it is truly Sumptuous!

So much so that I am wondering if it might be too rich for them and am considering
whether it is possibly a Health and Safety issue. I shall be guided on this by the blog readers comments.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

THE BURREN revisited Part 2

This post continues our recent trip across the magnificent landscape of The Burren.


Despite the name this lough has nothing to do with rabbits. The English name is loosely based upon the phonetic of the Irish name (as are all anglicised names in Ireland) Today's Irish name is Lough Buinne, 'buinne' meaning a torrent or gush of water however in 1660 the name was spelt as Loughbuna, in 1685 Loughbunagh and in 1787 Lough Buneah, all of which have a similar phonetic. There are two rough translations for these names: Lake of the flood or Lake at the foot of the mountain.

Lough Bunny is a permanent lake in a karstic limestone area of County Clare.The lough's length is 2.4 km with the greatest width at 740m, the depth ranges from 2.7M to 14m.
The fish are Perch,Rudd,Pike and the European eel.

A Portal Tomb

Parknabinnia (Parc na binnia) Is a townland whose name means field of the peak. There are about six or seven similar portal tombs within a few metres of each other in this townland.

Front end of the tomb
(I  do not know of a better place to be & rest my bones)

The name Burren comes from the Gaelic, meaning 'a rocky place'. Historically the name Burren referred to the Barony of Burren situated in north-west County Clare. Geographically, the name has a far wider and more complex sense and meaning. The Burren area extends some 40.2 km from east to west, and 32.2 km from north to south. It lies between Galway Bay on the north, the Atlantic coast on the west and a line drawn roughly through Doolin, Kilfenora, Gort and Kinvara. However, there is some characteristic 'Burren' outside this area to the east where one can find the same rocky features, though not as concentrated. 

The rocks in the Burren region were deposited when Ireland was located ~ 10°S of the Equator, during the Carboniferous period in the Earths' history, approximately 359-299 millions of years ago. The limestones were deposited during the Viséan stage (345-326 millions of years ago) of the Carboniferous, and the sandstones, siltstones and shales, during the Namurian stage (326-315 millions of years ago).

Slieve Carron  or Eagles Rock

Slieve Carron Nature Reserve (or Eagle’s Rock as it is known to locals) is state-managed land located in the heart of the north Burren, not too far from Kinvara. It has diverse habitats including grassland, limestone pavements, heathland, mature hazel woodland and grazing pastures, all of which hold a richness of species. Aside from its ecology Slieve Carron NR is also the host to a fulacht fiadh, a holy well, the site of a hermitage cave and oratory. 

Not a Quarry.

One of the most distinctive features of the Burren hills are the stepped, terraced sides. It is easy for a visitor to believe they are looking at man-made quarries, rather than natural features. For these terraces were formed because the limestone layers are actually separated by thin bands of mudstone,rainwater gradually washes away the layers of mudstone, eating into the hillside. 

Eventually, so much of the mudstone layer is washed away that
the overlying layer of limestone layer on top becomes unstable and eventually collapses under its own weight. This often leaves piles of loose blocks and boulders at the base of the terrace.  

We shall return again on a future day when the mood takes us and visit other parts of this magical landscape for there is so much more to share with you.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Coccinella 7-punctata - A Ladybird.

I just happened to look out of the window this morning at my over grown grass that needs cutting and there to my surprise was one solitary ladybird, a beetle that I haven't seen for a couple of years and perhaps because of the rain.
So I nipped out with my camera and took a  macro shot of this delightful creature to share with you all.

A few facts that I have gleaned are :-
That this particular type is probably at least as widespread as the 14-spot ladybird in Ireland though less common in upland areas and more generally scarce in heather moorland. It is worth saying that we do live in an upland area!

It was recorded mainly from herbaceous swards (12 occasions), and to a much lesser extent on conifer (2) or broadleaf (1) foliage or in heather (1).  Larvae have been found by sweeping in overgrown, floriferous, mainly legume-dominated swards (2) or on Cirsium arvense (3) in semi-improved pasture.


The intensity of ground colour may vary and the relative size of spots, but otherwise variation is limited.

My hope is that this sighting is an omen which will give us a splendid summer !

Gender identification of ladybirds is extremely difficult and virtually impossible on live ladybugs even for the experts.

Behavioural and ecological research on H. axyridis, including examination of its positive and negative impacts, could benefit from in-field techniques for sexing this coccinellid. As mentioned by Majerus (1994), the sex of coccinellid adults can be easily determined through dissection, but more efficient techniques for sexing live adults are necessary. 

Non-destructive sex determination in coccinellids is generally difficult, with no characters applicable across the taxon (Majerus 1994Hodek and Honek 1996). Despite the lack of all encompassing characters for sex determination, sexual dimorphism does appear to exist within most species. For many species, males are smaller with lighter pigmentation on the anterior portion of the head and slightly longer antennae (Hodek and Honek 1996). .

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Burren revisited pt 1

We were suffering from cabin sickness the other weekend and the remedy for this malady is long drive, on roads which at this time of the year are relatively deserted and free from tourist traffic. So we headed west with a flask of coffee, freshly made rolls and our four legged companion Toby to the Burren in west Clare.

To see the best of this area it is necessary to drive along the narrowest tarmac road that you can find, for it is on them that gems are hidden.

In one of the folds of the Burren limestone sits an almost cottage type industry known as The Burren Perfumery, which is a great draw for tourists as well as the indigenous population who are looking high quality organic perfumes, many of which are made from plants that grow in this remarkable area.

The perfumery is well sheltered from the winds by the spindly trees that surround this unique place and the approach from it's small car parks are via twisty paths which terminate on a large level courtyard.

The shop is light and airy with plenty of space for visitors to roam around and inspect the various products, all of which have testers so that you can find perfect scent for you.
What I find particularly good is that the staff are warm and very friendly, you feel as if you have known them for years.

Shop entrance

On the opposite side of the courtyard is the cafe where various beverages are served, among which are the mouth watering, delicious homemade cakes and fruit tarts, all of which are organic. Even the milk that goes into your tea or coffee comes from an Irish organic farm.

For further information please visit:

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Rock of Dunamaise, a possible rumour ?

The Rock of Dunamaise is to be demolished.

Last month’s heavy storm force winds, which contributed to the destruction of the castle at Coolbanagher, has severely undermined the foundations of the Rock of Dunamaise.

Works commenced today (Tuesday) demolishing the historic landmark, on health and safety grounds because of its current unstable and fragile condition.

So un-secure are the remaining medieval dry stone castle walls that the Department of Public Buildings issued an immediate notice to demolish the entire castle at the beginning of March. At least four British-based salvage companies competed for the tender. London-based company Solid as a Rock Ltd received the contract, as well as €1,675,000 from the department to carry out the work.

The Laois Nationalist has learned that the company intends dismantling the Rock brick by brick and transporting each one to Britain and America for resale. Experts in the salvage trade said that the castle bricks, because of their huge historical significance, could fetch up to $35 dollars each on the American market. They say that Solid as a Rock stand to make millions of euro if they pitch the rocks at the right market.

The weakening of the Rock, which proved a favourite location for many Hollywood blockbuster movies, including Darby O’Gill and the Little People, comes despite some €1.6m being spent on its preservation and strengthening eight years ago.

The company has begun advertising for 65 part-time positions to be filled under various job internship schemes, including JobBridge.

Over its historical past, the Rock, which is an internationally acclaimed architectural treasure, has been plundered, pillaged, racked and ruined, but still held firm against all-comers.

A group of local amateur historians have drawn up what they describe as “battle plans to defend the Rock.”
© The Laois Nationalist