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Thurles
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real feel: -4°C
wind speed: 4 m/s SW
sunrise: 8:28 am
sunset: 4:58 pm
 

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Corsican Hellebore – Winter Rose

Helleborus argutifolius

Are you looking for a garden plant that offers summer colour to a rather grim looking Irish winter landscape?  Then what you need to plant are one or more of some 20 species of Helleboreae.

One such species of Hellebore is the Christmas Rose, (also known as Helleborus argutifolius or Helleborus corsicus) a holly-leaved Hellebore species of flowering plant, in the family Ranunculaceae; same native to Corsica and Sardinia. It is an evergreen perennial growing to an approximate height of 120 cm (47 in) by 90 cm (3 ft) wide, with large leathery dark grey-green leaves, each comprising of three spiny-toothed leaflets.

The blossoms, from this delightful, compact, heavy and handsome plant, come in the shape of green, bowl-shaped clusters, with the flower heads appearing to the viewer like a tightly grasped posy. The flowering heavily scented, flower heads appear in early December, thus giving it the obvious, well-chosen and common name of ‘Winter Rose’, with the delightful, apple-green coloured pendant cups; like wild rose blossoms,  surviving through winter and continuing to bloom well into late spring.

Once fully established, like all hellebores, they dislike being shunted about, so resist the temptation to divided them. However, given the right conditions, they will self-seed sufficiently to provide replacement plants. These seedlings, which should appear immediately at the base of the plant, can then be easily moved and planted successfully elsewhere, rarely blooming in their first year of planting.

This slow growing, deer and rabbit resistant plant, enjoys moist alkaline, acid or sandy soil, in light or mild shade, and is easily pruned back.  Like many of our common garden plants however, it should be noted that Helleborus argutifolius is poisonous.

[Note: Heliotrope plants symbolises eternal or undying love and so make for a most desirable gift to someone you love.]

(Several varieties of potted Hellebore are available and in bloom right now from O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.)

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Mild Weather Advances Growth Of Tipperary Daffodil Crop.

“Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty”

Quote from William Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” (Act 4, scene 3, line 118)

Daffodil Blooms Well Advanced In Tipperary

Daffodils bulbs planted last autumn usually come into bloom in late winter and early spring.  Daffodils are usually regarded as a ‘March Flower’, synonymous with spring, but note that season is not officially due until Wednesday, March 20th 2019, at 3:59am GMT.

However this year, possibly, because of our mild weather during November / December, here in Co. Tipperary, this hardy perennial bulb, growth-wise, is well advanced out of doors.  Even with heavy frost and colder weather promised next week, you can expect bright yellow and white daffodil blooms, of most varieties, to be adorning sheltered gardens, later this very month.

“Daffodowndilly.” – Poem by A. A. Milne.

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet, she wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind and curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour: “Winter is dead.”

END

Daffodil flowers themselves make for great cut flowers for the indoors, however personally to use a quote from George B. Shaw, “I like flowers, I also like children, but I do not chop their heads off and keep them in bowls of water around the house.”  I much prefer to observe Daffodils growing in a wooded garden or living wild and discarded by the hundreds, in a low-density forest forming an open habitat while displaying plenty of sunlight.

In truth, what we here in Tipperary, and indeed nationally, call ‘daffodils’, same should be more aptly called ‘narcissus’, when referring to our larger yellow variety; while the smaller, paler versions should be more correctly referred to as ‘jonquils’.  But in fact they all belong to the genus ‘narcissus’.

Also known as the “Lent Lily”; for the most part same should be on the decline when Lent, that annual period of Christian observance that precedes Easter, eventually comes around this year. [Note: Lent in 2019 will start on March 6th, some 61 days hence, from today].

Daffodils gain their name from the Greek god Narcissus. Fable and folklore inform us that Narcissus was so enamoured with his own reflection in water, that he drowned himself in his efforts to capture his own reflection. Daffodils growing along the banks of rivers supposedly became associated with this mythical Greek god Narcissus, taking on his name, probably due to their reflected beauty seen in running water.

Poisonous to humans and animals to the secret delight of flower lovers and growers, yet used in the manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics; daffodils are observed as symbolic of:- Vitality; Rebirth; Forgiveness; Regard; Creativity; Inspiration and Renewal.

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Duilleoga Deasa, Deasa – Thurles, Co. Tipperary

“Duilleoga deasa, deasa, duilleoga deasa, buí.
Duilleoga deasa, deasa, ar thalamh ina luí”.

[Irish language Translation:- “Nice, nice leaves, nice yellow leaves.  Nice, nice leaves on the ground, lying”.]

The town of Thurles is always extremely colourful at this time of year, courtesy of Mother Nature.

Here in the town, despite recent strong winds, the thickly matted autumn leaves, generated during last spring, are now only beginning to loosen their grip, to flutter down to earth. This same action now allows the numerous bright beams of yellow sunshine to penetrate through to the pavements and the rural mossy previous shaded grassy floors.

Here, in the coldish 12°C sunlight being experienced in Thurles in Co. Tipperary presently, a myriad of these Autumn leaves, today lie mainly underfoot, thus forming a rich carpet of yellows, golds, reds and browns. Some can be also observed performing their final dance, encouraged by a light south westerly breeze, before eventually loosing themselves in that river of earlier leaves that have fallen in love with the surface of the ground.

For all mankind, autumn is seen as that period for storing up our annual harvest, but for Mother Nature, it is that time for also undertaking the setting of seed, thus ensuring that after a brief sleep, next year’s plants are replenished.

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Time Is Getting Short For Those Wishing To Pick Blackberries

The Michaelmas Daisy Fairy Song.

By Cicely Mary Barker

“Red Admiral, Red Admiral,
Alighting on my daisies one by one!
I hope you like their flavour and although the Autumn’s near,
Are happy as you sit there in the sun?”

“I thank you very kindly, sir!
Your daisies are so nice,
So pretty and so plentiful are they;
The flavour of their honey, sir, it really does entice;
I’d like to bring my brothers, if I may!”

“Friend butterfly, friend butterfly, go fetch them one and all!
I’m waiting here to welcome every guest;
And tell them it is Michaelmas, and soon the leaves will fall,
But I think Autumn sunshine is the best!”

End

Michaelmas daisies (Variety Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’) together with the bright yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia (Variety “Goldstrum”); a must for  any garden especially those seeking long lasting colour; as our warm Summer slowly now reverts to Autumn.

Michaelmas Daisies (Aster macrophyllus ‘Twilight’), together with the bright yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia (“Goldstrum”) are both hardy perennial garden flowers, (Available at O’Driscoll Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles), which emerge from small ever enlarging colonies of underground rhizomes to form clumps some 60cm (around 2ft), in height each Spring, later displaying glorious rich colour, from mid to late Summer right through to the end of Autumn.

While the yellow daisy-like flowers of Rudbeckia are said to symbolizes a farewell or a departure; it is the name associated with the blueish grey daisy that we feature in this article.

Michaelmas is the name of the first term of the academic year. It is also a term name used by the Honorable Society of King’s Inns in Ireland. The Michaelmas term begins in September and ends towards the end of December. The name Michaelmas comes from a shortening of “Michael’s Mass,”, similar to and in the same style as Christmas, “Christ’s Mass” and Candlemas, “Candle Mass”, latter the Mass where traditionally all candles used throughout the year would be blessed.

In the fifth century a basilica near Rome was dedicated in honour of Michael on the 30th September, beginning with celebrations on the eve of that day, and 29th September is now kept in honour of St. Michael and all Angels, throughout some western churches.

Associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of days; during the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, but this tradition was abolished in the 18th century. It was also one of the Irish quarter days, when outstanding accounts had to be settled.

Folklore suggests that Michaelmas day is the last day that blackberries can be picked. It is said that when St Michael expelled Lucifer (the devil), from heaven, the latter fell from the sky, landing in prickly blackberry bushes. Satan is said to have cursed the fruit, before scorching them with his fiery breath, then stamping, spitting and urinating on them, so that they would become unfit for human consumption.  It was therefore considered ill-advised to pick blackberries after the 29th of September, with a Michaelmas pie being made from the last blackberry fruit of the season.

First observed as a healing angel, and then over time as a protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil; from 1961 to 1965, four young schoolgirls reported several apparitions of the Archangel Michael in their small village of Garabandal, in Spain. The apparitions of the Archangel Michael were mainly reported as announcing the expected arrival of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ.

These events at Garabandal began on June 18th, 1961, when the four girls aged eleven and twelve years old, [Mari Loli Mazón, Jacinta González, Mari Cruz González and Maria “Conchita” Concepción González], said that they saw an angel. This angel made another appearance on June 25th. Their story quickly spread throughout the village and they subsequently reported seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. These claims continued for a number of years.

According to the visionaries, the purpose of these visitations was to call for a “conversion of heart”,  with these visionaries reporting that they received two ‘messages’; one directly from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the other from the Virgin Mary, by way of St. Michael the Archangel. The first message was revealed on October 18th, 1961, which stated:-  “We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance, and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up, and if we do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us.”

It was on June 18th, 1965, when Conchita, the principal visionary heard the second message, which was televised live by Spanish television. It stated:-  “As my Message of the 18th of October has not been complied with, and as it has not been made known to the world, I am telling you that this is the last one. Previously, the Cup was filling; now, it is brimming over. Many priests are following the road to perdition, (latter a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unrepentant person passes after death), and with them they are taking many more souls. Ever less importance is being given to the Holy Eucharist. We should turn the wrath of God away from us by our own efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with a sincere heart. He will pardon you. I, your Mother, through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, wish to tell you that you should make amends. You are now being given the last warnings. I love you very much, and I do not want your condemnation. Ask Us sincerely and We shall grant your plea. You must make more sacrifices. Reflect on the Passion of Jesus.

The second message caused particular controversy when it was revealed that Conchita had actually written “many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are following the road to perdition.”  She was asked many times to verify this information. The young woman stated many times that Mary stressed the importance of the priesthood, and focused attention on priests above others.

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Six Thousand Year Old Bog-Oak Erected In Littleton, Co Tipp

Two-Mile-Borris /Littleton district correspondent Mr Gerry Bowe reports:-

On Wednesday August 29th 2018 last, cross-roads in Littleton Village, Thurles, Co. Tipperary has gained an original six to seven-thousand-year-old unique, work of art.

Local butcher Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick has presented to Littleton village; a piece of rare bog-oak which he has been restoring and preserving over many months.

Bog-wood, in this case Oak, is a material from trees that have been buried in peat bogs and preserved from decay by the acidic and anaerobic bog conditions, sometimes for thousands of years. The wood is usually stained brown by tannins dissolved in the bog’s acidic water. Bog-wood may come from any tree species naturally growing near or in bogs, including oak; Quercus – “bog oak”; Pine – “Pinus”; Yew – “Taxus”; Swamp Cypress – “Taxodium”, and Kauri, latter regarded as the most exotic wood in the world – “Agathis”.  Such bog preserved timber remains comparable to some of the world’s most expensive tropical hard woods.

Pictured Centre L to R: Mr Tom Ryan, Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick, & Mr John Darmody taking time out to relax having successfully erected the Bog Oak Art piece in Littleton village, Co. Tipperary.

For the past twenty-eight years, Mr Fitzpatrick together with his wife Karen and family, has been providing a quality meat service, which also includes home deliveries, not just to the village itself but also to the surrounding area. But surely his most unique delivery to date, must be the conveyance of a large, ancient, seven-foot-high oak tree trunk with roots attached; same now perfectly preserved with numerous coatings of Danish oil, followed by intense and passionate sandpapering, to extract its ancient, bog preserved, hidden colours.

What was once left to the elements to decay, has now become a visible symbol and a real reminder of the rich, bog-land chronicle that is Tipperary’s biodiversity. This visible symbol must surely challenge us to try to fully comprehend and preserve our local bogs for environmental, recreational and inspirational purposes. The heathers, ferns and fir tree, planted alongside, are but a trivial reminder of this rich variety of rural bog vegetation.

An artistic and wood-working gene is most definitely ingrained within the Fitzpatrick family. Proof, as if proof was needed, can be quickly observed in the ‘butcher’s block’ that was so patiently and lovingly assembled, piece by piece, from maple wood, by Mr Paudie Fitzpatrick’s son Shane; same undertaken as part of his Leaving Cert woodwork project at Colaiste Mhuire here in Thurles. Shane has rightly been granted an award for this work, with the project remaining on display in the school, to further inspire and encourage new incoming students and school visitors alike.

A massive ‘Thank You’ also to Mr John Darmody, Mr Dan Fitzpatrick and Mr Thomas Ryan; all who helped pour the concrete base and secure the bog oak piece with iron stays, having delivered it safely on a tractor loader.

Positive comments are now pouring in from the many who pass through Littleton village on a daily basis and so to from the villagers who are grateful to Mr Fitzpatrick and family for the patient work and generosity in the donating of this artistic creation to further beautify the already picturesque village. With a new Tidy Towns Committee in formation, this feature makes a most excellent beginning to all future work planned.

In his book (P.58), “The Bogs of Ireland” (John Feehan), the author tells us that “bog is an Irish word, derived from the word for soft; ‘bogach’ means in Irish -‘soft ground.’ As roads become busier and life becomes a constant rush, we might recall that another Irish phrase: “Tog go bog è “, means literally “Take it easy”, or “Slow down”, or “Breathe deep”.  So why not“Tog go bog è “, and take a look around and admire this ancient and unique piece of bog-oak art, which has full certified Littleton, Co. Tipperary origins?

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