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Thurles
Mostly sunny
17°C
real feel: 18°C
wind speed: 3 m/s SSW
sunrise: 7:10 am
sunset: 7:39 pm
 

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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.

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Thurles Readers – Get Your Watering Cans Out!

It’s time for Thurles gardeners to get their watering cans out and their Factor 50+ on again, because Tipperary is set to enjoy an unexpected spell of warm September sunshine.

A warm plume of air is credited with bringing summer-like conditions to our shores this Autumn. From now until Wednesday, temperatures are set to hit highs of between 21 and 24 degrees Celsius.

Be sure and make the most of this dry spell, because it is not expected to stay with us for very long. Scattered outbreaks of rain, coming from the south, are set to hit us here in Co. Tipperary as early as Thursday next.

With Autumn leaves already starting to fall, this joyous bout of summer sunshine may be our last for many months.

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Holycross Village Bi-Weekly Market, Tomorrow Saturday August 21st.

A reminder that the bi-weekly Holycross Village Market is taking place tomorrow, Saturday August 21st, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

Ann Lanigan Reports:

“Experience the ultimate village market in Holycross tomorrow afternoon, Saturday, August 21st, from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.

Indulge in a coffee, hot food or an ice cream as you check out all the market has to offer.

Browse the lovely art and crafts stalls and savour local fresh produce including fruit, vegetables, meats and artisan bakes.

Enjoy the live music while the children have their faces painted and hair braided.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy in the beautiful surrounds of the historic village of Holycross , with its ample parking behind the abbey with stewards on hand to help in anyway necessary.”

Spread the word, bring a friend.
We are looking forward to seeing you all there.

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Pied Wagtails Halt Lily Sales In Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Two Pied Wagtails, no doubt sick of the continuous long drawn out revitalisation of Liberty Square, in Thurles, moved home in late May of this year to take up residence amongst the sweet smelling Asian Lily collection in O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre, Mill Road, Thurles.

Their reason – to raise possibly their second family.

Choosing a central area to the Garden Centre’s large Lily collection, they located a flower pot which offered suitable central space, the female alone building the nursery for their anticipated brood, using dry grass, horsehair, wool and a few feathers set on a soft peat base.

Pied Wagtails like nesting in farms buildings and gardens and similar inhabited areas, often nesting on the ground and sometimes in old, previously abandoned nests.

Later, mother Wagtail laid five eggs, greyish to blue-white in colour, and some 14 days later five chicks were observed being tended by both the parents.

Lovers of nature and the environment, the O’Driscoll brothers immediately closed off the exhibit area for one month, displaying a sign (not in accordance with truth or fact) declaring their full Lily collection was ‘Previously Sold Out’. However, customer and lovers of garden Asian Lilies, should note their full Lily collection is now back on the market, and a crop of five baby Wagtails and their parents are most exceedingly grateful.

Contact O’Driscoll’s Garden Centre Tel: (0504) 21636.

In all, their nest sojourn lasted 29 days. Having left the nest, they remained in the general area for a further few days, before possibly returning to Liberty Square, where an now overcrowded colony of some 1,000 silent Wagtails currently roost.

Alas, already two large trees in Liberty Square; same previously used by the Wagtails to nightly roost, have been removed as part of the long drawn out Liberty Square revitalisation. So sadly, it is not just businesses that are rapidly leaving the Thurles town centre area; displaced Pied Wagtails are also migrating.

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Save €700 This Summer

Stretch out and save €700 this summer, says EPA.

  • The average Irish family will save €700 per year by taking simple steps to reduce their food waste.
  • Vegetables, fruit and salad are the foods that are thrown out most often in the home.
  • Ireland has committed to halving food waste by 2030.
  • Scientists estimate that food waste produces up to 10 per cent of all global carbon emissions.

Top Tips Include:

  • Store potatoes in a dry, dark place;
  • Keep tomatoes in the open air;
  • Store carrots loose in the bottom drawer of the fridge;
  • Keep strawberries in the fridge with their green tops on.

As the country prepares for an outdoor summer of picnics and barbeques, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new campaign to encourage people to reduce their food waste, highlighting simple food storage steps to make their fresh food last longer. The EPA’s website has some great resources to support their ‘Stretch Out and Save‘ campaign and highlights the variety of ways in which different foods should be stored.

Findings from a 2020 EPA survey on food waste attitudes showed that around 40% of Irish people say they waste a lot of fruit and vegetables, and would like to make their fresh food last longer. Fresh fruit, vegetables and salads are Irish summer favourites – but also are the foods we waste the most.

Properly storing fresh fruit and vegetables can help both the environment and your budget, according to Mary Frances Rochford, [EPA Programme Manager]:
“We are calling on everyone to support and share our Stretch Out and Save campaign on social media, and take a simple action to stop food waste. Irish households produce over 250,000 tonnes of food waste per year, at a cost of €700 per household. In addition, wasted food is a significant contributor to climate change – responsible for 8% to 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting food waste reduces greenhouse gas emissions and also provides real savings to householders.”

The EPA’s Stop Food Waste top tips to stretch out and save your food this summer include:

  • Strawberries: Don’t put yourself in a jam; keep the strawberries in the fridge with the green tops intact.
    Washing strawberries in a mixture of water and vinegar (8 cups of water and 1 cup of white vinegar) will also keep them fresh by killing any spores on the fruit.
  • Tomatoes: Don’t see red when your tomatoes start to have mould spots; Store tomatoes in the open air to keep flavour and texture for longer.
    Did you know? Tomatoes are actually a fruit not a vegetable.
  • Potatoes An app-peeling staple in so many households, some people make the mistake of leaving the bag of potatoes out in the light. In fact, potatoes last longer when stored in a cool, dark and dry place.
    But don’t store them next to onions; the excess moisture in onions can result in potatoes sprouting faster.
  • Carrots: Keep carrots loose in the bottom drawer of the fridge to keep crisp. The most famous vegetable for improving your vision, ensure that you can see the carrots by removing them from plastic packaging. This avoids the ‘sweating’ that leads to mould formation.
    If your carrots come with the leaves intact, cut these off before storing. The leaves draw moisture out of the roots causing your carrots to become bendy much faster.

Environmental scientist with the EPA, Ms Odile Le Bolloch explains:
“Summer is a time for enjoying lots of fresh produce and salads, but these are also the foods that we waste the most. With a few simple tips we can keep the food we buy that bit fresher for that bit longer. The Stop Food Waste A-Z of Foods is a useful online resource on how to best manage common foods at home to prevent food waste.”

As no two foods are the same, different produce will often have different storage requirements. Re-learning habits and implementing them as we put our shopping away will help to get the most out of groceries.

Find out how to store all of your favourite foods, learn about food date marking, and access resources to help reduce food waste in the home by visiting the EPA website.

Environmental scientist Ms Odile Le Bolloch is available for interview.

Further information: Ms Emily Williamson, (EPA Media Relations Office): Tel: 053-91 70770 (24 hours) and media@epa.ie

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