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Laugh Out Loud Book Awards Free Event for Schools.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. – Dr. Seuss

Since 2016, the Laugh Out Loud Book Awards (the Lollies) have celebrated the best and funniest children’s picture books and chapter books from Ireland and the UK.

Now in its fifth year, and voted for by children, this year’s shortlist of books is among the funniest yet. With titles including “101 Bums” by Sam Harper and “Zombierella: Fairytales Gone Bad” by Joseph Coelho, everyone is sure to get a laugh from this year’s nominated books (CLICK HERE).

From Monday September 20th, schools can get in on the fun by taking part in a free weeklong online Lollies event, featuring writing activities, drawalongs and readings from the shortlisted authors and illustrators, as well as from the beloved children’s author and poet, Head Judge, Michael Rosen.

To register for a week of free Lollies fun click HERE.

For access to free resources and activity packs based on this year’s shortlisted books, click HERE.

To vote for your favourite shortlisted book visit HERE.


Third Level Students Forced To Use Hotel Accommodation.

Third-level students attending college in Limerick are being forced to stay in hotels, because they cannot locate suitable rented accommodation within the city.

Those studying in Limerick claim they are forced to pay up to €390.00 weekly for five night’s accommodation in a hotel, as part of a deal struck between the Mary Immaculate College (MIC) students union and three city hotels.

MIC Thurles Campus.

We learn that MIC Students Union has come to a similar accommodation agreement with one hotel here in Thurles; where the college operates a smaller MIC third level institution, based on the former St. Patrick’s College, campus.

However, the latter information is being viewed by Thurles residents as somewhat misleading, possibly in an effort to bolster MIC Students Union claims, affecting the Limerick City problem.

The five-night accommodation shortage, required from Sunday to Thursday, is being caused in Limerick by a number of factors including : –
(1) Remote learning caused due to the coronavirus over the past 18 months, thus resulting in houses that used to be available to students having been taken out of that market and being rented to long-term tenants.
(B) A dramatic fall in the number of people offering traditional “digs” to students.
(C) Numerous reports of anti-social behaviour, leading to extensive property damage; same attributed to alcohol consumption and drugs.


Devils Bit Scabious, Bobby Bright Buttons or Pincushion Flower.

Its Irish name is ‘Odhrach bhallach’; its Scientific name is ‘Succisa pratensis’, but you may know it as ‘Devil’s Bit Scabious’;

Devils Bit Scabious is a tall plant with rounded purple-blue flowers that resemble a pincushion. It is a close relative of the Teasel family and like its relative, it is a rich and valuable late source of nectar and pollen for insects.

Tortoiseshell butterflies feasting on the nectar of the ‘Devil’s Bit Scabious’ plant.
Picture: G.Willoughby

As Tipperary wildflower and insect expert, Mr John Fogarty, explained to me yesterday; all butterflies love it as indeed do all bees, with same a major food-plant for so many insects, both as adults and larvae, attracted to its pincushion-like head. Indeed, this wildflower is the main larval food-plant of the now seriously threatened Marsh Fritillary butterfly, latter said to prefer where the ‘Devil’s-bit scabious’ plant chooses to grow.

Blue-violet Devil’s Bit Scabious growing on the Double Ditch, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Picture: G. Willoughby.

Blue-violet in colour, this medium sized perennial with deep green, blotchy, oval shaped leaves can be located in marshes and pastures, brightening up areas where it flowers, (in this case on the Great Famine Double Ditch, Mill Road, Thurles, Co. Tipperary) from June to October. Sadly this plant can be scarce presently in areas where intensive farming in being carried out.

Mr Fogarty points out that the plant’s more common name ‘scabious’ comes from the herb’s traditional usage as a folk medicine to treat scabies, latter a rather itchy skin condition caused by a tiny burrowing mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. Legend states that this plant, ‘Devils Bit Scabious’ got its name due to the fact that it has an abruptly truncated, short root which folklore dictates that the Devil bit off in a fit of annoyance, at the medicinal properties of this most attractive plant.

The ‘Devil’s Bit Mountain‘, north of Thurles has no bearing on the plant’s name, but it does confirm that the Devil spent an inordinate amount of time here, over the years, in and around Thurles, with some people claiming that he has actually never vacated the area; and can be seen influencing political outcomes, during years when local and general elections occur.


Prof. V. Cunnane Founding President of Technological University of Midlands Midwest.

Professor Vincent Cunnane

AIT-LIT consortium welcomes the appointment of Professor Vincent Cunnane as founding President of the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest

The chair of the joint Governing Body of the AIT-LIT Consortium, Professor Mr Tom Collins, has today welcomed the announcement by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Mr Simon Harris TD, that Professor Vincent Cunnane is to be the first President of the Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest.

The appointment was announced by the Minister following an international recruitment process. The term of the appointment is eight years and Professor Cunnane will take up his post from the commencement of the new Technological University, on October 1st next.

Commenting on the appointment of Professor Cunnane, Professor Collins said, “All in the consortium are very pleased that Vincent Cunnane is to be the inaugural President. He has a distinguished record of achievement in the academic, research and development spheres. He is eminently qualified to lead the development of the TU and its contribution to the economic, social and cultural life of the Midlands, Midwest and beyond. In that task he will be greatly assisted by the quality and commitment of the leadership team and staff of the TU.”

Mr Liam Rattigan, outgoing Chair of AIT Governing Body also welcomed the appointment. “I want to wish Vincent and all in the new TU every success as it embarks on this new phase of higher education in the Midlands and the Midwest,” he stated. “I also want to pay tribute to the legacy of Prof Ciarán Ó Catháin who has led AIT for the past two decades and under whose leadership the Institute achieved university status”, he added.

Mr Tony Brazil, outgoing Chair of LIT also paid tribute to Prof Cunnane. “I have worked closely with Vincent over the past three years since I became Chair”, he said, “and have been hugely impressed by his vision, energy and leadership. He will be an outstanding first President for the new TU.”

The Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest will commence on October 1st, next, with campuses in Thurles, Athlone, Clonmel, Ennis, and Limerick.


“Barney” & “Beakey” Hatch Second Family In Thurles.

“Barney” and “Beakey” are two barn swallows temporally residing here in Thurles, Co. Tipperary, which we have been carefully watching.

In the last few days they have produced their second brood of chicks, having built two nests, the most recent construction within about 3.66meters (12ft) of their previous abode.

“Barney” and “Beakey Swallow” hatch second brood, as a spider and his web remain in residence next door.

Swallows spend their winter in southern Africa, migrating across the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert to Ireland in spring to return home using the same return route in early September.

They build cup-shaped nests in barn rafters, under roofs, using mud pellets, hair, grass, and feathers as seen here above.
It can take a pair of swallows up to 1,100 journeys to build their nest, with the female only permitted to line it; in the case shown above “Beakey” used a layer of dried grass on top of the mud pellets, before covering it in a mixture of soft feathers.

Most of our Irish swallows try to rear two broods each summer and some early arrivals succeed in raising three. The male swallow in this case “Barney” arrived back in the Thurles area first and was heard singing over his territory awaiting to attract a mate. Females, (like most women) don’t mind keeping their men waiting, generally arriving up to a week late, looking virtually identical in appearance to their male counterparts. [Males have longer outer tail-streamers than females and have also more gloss to their outer feathers.]

Swallows always return to the same location to nest every year, so the number of birds nesting in any one area can grow year after year.

Not even distantly related to their somewhat look alike Swift family; having watched them year after year, the true home of barn swallows is in our skys where they feed almost exclusively on midges and flies caught during their erratic, high speed flight. They can be observed even drinking on the wing, flying low to sip water.

Swallows nests, their eggs and chicks are protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 and European-level legislation. The penalties for tampering with swallows or disturbing their active nests consists of heavy fines and even imprisonment.