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Daffodil, The Flower Symbolizing Friendship

“And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.”
[Extract from the poem “Daffodils” by William Wordsworth.]

The season of Autumn 2017, here in our Northern Hemisphere, truly began just 9 days ago, on Friday, 22nd September at 9.54pm, and will come to an end on Thursday, 21st December 2017, as the dark winter days once again emerge.

But fear not; remember the words of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley “O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?”; so, let’s forget about winter and prepare for spring.

Later, towards the end of this month, will be the time to plant spring flowering bulbs, like the Crocus, Snowdrops, Bluebells and Tulips; but right now, is the best time to plant those Daffodils with their wonderful characteristic six petal-like sepals, surmounted by their trumpet-shaped corona; the flower that symbolizes ‘Friendship’.

Among the earliest blooms to appear in our Irish spring; Daffodils have been around for a long, long time, getting mentioned as far back as two hundred years B.C.. Indeed, it was a group of Englishmen in the early 17th century who plucked the Daffodil out of the windflower category; positioned it firmly, because of its charm, for inclusion into our domestic flower garden and rockery.  Originating in Spain and Portugal, the Daffodil bulb, thankfully, was brought to the British Isles by the Romans, who foolishly believed that the sap from Daffodils had certain healing powers; alas the sap contains crystals that in some cases can irritate the skin.

When sowing Daffodils note that unlike some other bulbs (e.g. Tulips, Garlic), they do not require to be refrigerated. Each should have at least 2 to 3 inches of soil cover (deeper in sandy soil) and be planted a minimum of 4–5 inches apart over the next week, before really hard ground frost materialises.

After a Daffodil has finishes blooming, it still requires its foliage to gather and store energy for the following year’s bloom, so do watch the video shown above and remember if you want beautiful blooms next year, do not cut them back until the green of their foliage has fully disappeared, (usually late May or June). You can remove the spent flower head, but do remove the leaves.

You will observe from year to year how densely packed your Daffodils have become, so it is recommended that in June about every 5 years, that you grant the bulbs a little more growing space. Once finished blooming and when their leaves have turned brown, do dig them up and divide them by carefully plying them apart from one another, keeping their remaining leaves attached. They can then be replanted, as stated earlier with 2 to 3 inches of soil cover, 4–5 inches apart, or washed and dried by hanging in, if needs must,  ladies panty hose, or an onion sack (if you can locate same from your local greengrocer), in a cool, airy location, until they are ready to be replanted. Remember, Mulch can be tremendously beneficial when growing Daffodils, so do not dump all your tea leaves, coffee grinds, tree leaves, grass clippings, sawdust etc in your brown bin for removal by your recycling company.


SuperValu’s TidyTown’s Award Comes To Tipperary

Birdhill, Co. Tipperary, Tidy Towns Winners 2017 & Ireland’s Tidiest Village.

The village of Birdhill (Irish: Cnocán an Éin Fhinn, or the Hill of the Fair Bird) in North, West Co. Tipperary has beaten off stiff competition, to be named overall winner of the Tidy Towns 2017 competition, (Sponsored by SuperValu) with 332 points.

No Graffiti Here.
Situated off the N7 motorway, midway between Limerick city and Nenagh, and overlooking Lough Derg; Birdhill received a double accolade by also being named ‘Ireland’s Tidiest Village’.

SuperValu Managing Director Mr Martin Kelleher paid tribute to the winners and indeed all 870 other towns and villages and their communities who had entered the competition during the current year.

Birdhill’s Tidy Town’s Committee are no strangers to community awards, with the village previously named “Tidiest Village” in the Tidy Towns Awards in recent years; e.g. 2006, 2007, 2008 and again in 2016. They also won a gold medal in the European Entente Florale competition back in 20o7.

Tidy Towns (Irish: Bailte Slachtmhara) is an annual competition here in Ireland, first begun back in 1958, organised through the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government and currently sponsored by SuperValu. The overall aim is to honour the tidiest and most attractive cities, towns and villages throughout the country.

The Competition is judged during the summer months May – August, using independent adjudicators, who issue each town / community with a written report, latter highlighting positive advancement and offering future recommendations on how each area can further improve their immediate surroundings.

Representatives from Birdhill’s Tidy Towns Committee picked up their trophy and a cheque for €10,000 in Dublin this morning.


Funds Awarded To Study Crop Protection & Clean Energy

Food Producers in Co. Tipperary have welcomed the news that the Environmental Protection Agency are to announce two new research projects, to be funded through the Science Foundation Ireland’s Investigator Programme.

As part of this strategic partnership the Environmental Protection Agency will co-fund two five-year research projectsv as follows:

  • Trinity College Dublin (Frank Wellmer) – looking at crop protection (A new avenue for crop protection: generating Brassica cultivars with supernumerary trichomes).
  • University of Limerick (Michael Zaworotko) – looking at clean energy (Green Adsorbents for Clean Energy).

These awards were announced at the Science Foundation Ireland Award Ceremony which took place in Trinity College Dublin this week.

Alice Wemaere, EPA Research Manager, stated: “We are delighted to build on the success of previous collaborations between the Environmental Protection Agency and Science Foundation Ireland. The two projects awarded funding today have the potential to yield significant environmental, economic and societal benefits for Ireland and will add to the range of EPA research that provides pathways to a low-carbon, sustainable future. The EPA wants to maximise the impact and benefit of its research funding for society and will therefore continue to seek co-funding and strategic collaboration opportunities to support environmental research.”

This SFI Programme is designed to support the development of world-class research and human capital in the areas of science, engineering and mathematics (STEM), that demonstrably support and underpin enterprise competitiveness and societal development in Ireland.


25 Water Supplies At Risk Of Cryptosporidium Contamination

Treatment is needed for 25 water supplies currently at risk of contamination with Cryptosporidium says Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland (EPA).

The monitoring of all public drinking water in Ireland, grant us the following information:

  • 99.9% of samples comply with microbiological standards.
  • 99.5% of samples comply with chemical standards
  • 41 ‘Boil Water Notices’ were put in place during 2016, affecting more than 84,000 people.

There are 87 water supplies “at risk” on the EPA’s Remedial Action List:

  • 58 of these supplies have elevated levels of Trihalomethanes (THMs). [ THMs are chemicals which can be located in water treated with chlorine. The concentration of THMs in drinking water varies according to the level of organic material in the water, the amount of chlorine required to treat the water, and the temperature of the water that is being treated. Some water supplies have reported levels of THMs which are higher than the recommended levels, and Irish Water is developing a National THM plan, in order to deal with this issue.]
  • 25 of these supplies lack adequate protection to prevent Cryptosporidium from entering the water supply. [Cryptosporidium can cause a respiratory and gastrointestinal illness (cryptosporidiosis) that primarily involves watery diarrhea (intestinal cryptosporidiosis) with or without a persistent cough (respiratory cryptosporidiosis) in both immunocompetent and immunodeficient humans. (immunocompetent – the ability of the body to produce a normal immune response, following exposure to a toxin), (immunodeficient – the immune system’s ability to fight infectious disease and cancer is compromised)]

The EPA Drinking Water Report 2016, released today, shows that the quality of drinking water in public supplies remains high, though further improvements are deemed necessary to improve the security of supplies and avoid water restrictions, including Boil Water Notices. Drinking water testing throughout 2016 confirmed a very high level of compliance with microbiological and chemical standards, indicating that the majority of our water supplies are safe.

Commenting on the report, Mr Gerard O’Leary, Director of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Enforcement stated, “While the removal of long-term boil water notices in supplies like the Whitegate Regional Supply in Cork and Loughrea public water supply in Galway in 2016 was welcome, there remains over 3,600 people on a Boil Water Notice today. The EPA has identified supplies serving over 700,000 consumers where improvements to water treatment infrastructure are necessary to meet public health standards.”

Counties Kerry, Cork and Donegal account for almost half of the “at risk” supplies identified by the EPA. The report states that action programme dates set out by Irish Water to improve 24 “at risk” supplies have slipped.

Darragh Page, Senior Drinking Water Inspector, Office of Environmental Enforcement, commenting on threats to drinking water quality such as Cryptosporidium, E. coli and Trihalomethanes (THMs) stated, “While the incidence of E. coli in public water supplies continues to decrease, the current challenge is to reduce the levels of other pollutants in public water supplies across the country, particularly THM, and pesticides. The number of supplies reporting THM failures remains high, and a consistent national approach must be adopted to ensure that pesticides are prevented from entering our drinking water sources. We have also identified 25 supplies that require adequate treatment to prevent Cryptosporidium entering the water supply.”

The EPA Drinking Water Report 2016 as well as the complete list of public water supplies currently on their Remedial Action List (RAL) are available on the EPA website – including details of proposed remedial measures and associated time frames, with regards to water projects identified in Co. Tipperary.


Thurles Native Caught Up In Hurricane Harvey Devastation

Journalist and Author Tom Ryan Reports:-

An Irish soccer referee in Houston, Texas, yesterday paid tribute to the “caring spirit and generosity” of the people of Houston, in the wake and devastation of Hurricane Harvey, which has caused death and destruction on a huge scale, this week.

Pictured herewith are Pam & Seanie Ryan, attending a ‘Rodeo’ in the populous city of Houston, Texas, in the United States, during happier times.

Thurles native, Mr Seanie Ryan, latter formerly a drummer with various bands in Ireland, including Co. Tipperary’s ‘Tweed’ in the 80’s (later ‘The Paddies’ with top lead vocalist Brendan Ryder, Thurles.) and the ‘Kenny Ryder Superband’, currently resides in ‘Katy’, latter a city in the U.S. state of Texas, within the Houston – Katy -Woodlands – Sugar Land metropolitan area; previously known as “Cane Island”.

As the hurricane hit Katy City and his neighbourhood became flooded, he was directed by a US Coast Guard helicopter to a United States Army Truck, who brought the family to safety to an upland, dry area.

Seanie stated “My wife Pam, and I, carrying our two pups, ‘Rosie’ and ‘Pickles’ in a basket, had to wade through some five feet of water to get to the truck”, adding, “You do it when you mustSubsequently we were offered accommodation in the home of friends who, ironically, were only about two miles away, but actually in a dry area, where we could walk our dogs next day; Crazy.”  Seanie continued.

“One thing I want to get across”, Seanie was anxious to emphasise, “You know people around the world may say different things about the present state of America and our President Donald Trump, but I could not begin to describe the generosity and caring spirit of the wonderful people of Houston, Texas; its Black, white, Asian, Indian, in fact practically the whole of its 2.303 million population, containing all races and creeds. You know it was so wonderful; people, many complete strangers, whom we never met before, were offering us food, accommodation; even an office, if my wife wanted to do her work, indeed any kind of help we wanted was on offer. 

Police helicopters hovered over the neighbourhood all night with floodlights protecting our homes from looters and Coastguard helicopters continued to be involved in rescue operations; rather like the one that came to our assistance.  People just came up to us all the time saying “What can I do for you”.  Now that’s the outstanding spirit of Houston and how it should remain; people were just so outstanding and generous in every way”, said Seanie, a professional Colleges Soccer Referee.

Meanwhile Seanie and wife Pam do not know quite what to expect, when they will eventually be allowed to go back to their home. While thankful to be alive and thoroughly grateful to the great people of Katy city and Houston, they hope they may be lucky in respect of any long term damage caused to their dwelling.

Meanwhile they look forward to November 4th next and the nuptial of their son Kevin, (latter a published writer), and Ms Caroline McKinzie Phillips.

Note: Seanie Ryan, was formerly a native of No.30 Kennedy Park, Thurles, Co. Tipperary, and is brother of Thurles journalist / author Mr Tom Ryan, Rahealty and Mr Pat Ryan, also No.30 Kennedy Park, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.