Local Weather

real feel: -2°C
wind speed: 3 m/s WNW
sunrise: 8:14 am
sunset: 4:23 pm


New Trees On Liberty Square, Thurles, Offer A Certain Continental Charm.

With the relocation of seven (7) new ‘Italian Alder’ (Alnus Cordata), trees, newly sown on Liberty Square, Thurles; these deciduous trees, native to high elevation areas in Southern Italy, are sure to bring a certain continental charm to our town centre.

Four of seven ‘Italian Alder’ trees sown this week on Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Pic. G. Willoughby.

Growing to a height of up to 25m (82ft) and with a spread of some 8m (26ft); same trees are native to southern Italy.
Italian Alder is a tall, fast-growing, deciduous tree of conical habit, with the flowers appearing before the leaves.
The slender cylindrical male catkins are pendulous, reddish and up to 10 cm (4 inches) long. Pollination is in early spring, before the leaves emerge. The female catkins are ovoid, when mature in autumn, dark green to brown in colour, similar to some conifer cones. The small winged seeds disperse through the winter, leaving the old woody, blackish cones on the tree for up to a year afterwards.

The glossy, mid-green leaves themselves are heart-shaped with very finely serrated edges and stay on the tree as late as December, especially in milder areas. Italian alder is highly wind-resistant and tolerant of very poor soils, as it is able to obtain nitrogen from the air. It will also tolerate high levels of pollution and heavily compacted soils, making it a useful urban tree.

With the occasional uncouth barbarian often visiting our town, usually at night, hopefully these trees will be protected soon by metal tree guards, at least until roots properly take hold.


Christmas Truly Begins At Holycross Market Tomorrow Saturday, November 27th 2021.

It’s Market Saturday once again, tomorrow, in Holycross Village, Thurles, Co. Tipperary and the organisers are arranging that all things be somewhat festive this week; in preparation for the forthcoming Christmas holiday season.

Here will be the ideal opportunity to locate Christmas gifts and order, in advance, festive food, e.g. turkeys, hams, fresh fruit, vegetables, home baking, fuel etc, etc.

So do visit the Holycross Village Christmas Market tomorrow, Saturday November 27th; enjoy refreshments at the ‘Ancient Grounds’ coffee dock, a bite of lunch from ‘The Bula Bus’ and soak up what is expected to be a truly festive atmosphere.
Be assured you will have a lovely experience at this Christmas market event; same opening from 1:00pm until 3:00pm.

See you all there folks.


September 29th, Is Feast Day Of St. Michael & All Angels.

Today, September 29th, of course was Michaelmas Day, the Christian Feast day of Saint Michael and All Angels.

Michaelmas Daisies.
Pic. G. Willoughby

One of the few flowers still left blooming at this time of year is the Michaelmas Daisy. (Asters). There is a traditional rhyme about Michaelmas daisies that explains their connection with St. Michael, the Chief of the Archangels

“The Michaelmas Daisy, among dead weeds,
Bloom for St Michael’s valorous deeds.
And seems the last of flowers that stood,
Till the feast of St. Simon and St. Jude.”

Archangel Michael is regarded as the greatest of all the angels and is honoured for defeating Lucifer in the war in heaven. Religious believers always call therefore upon the Archangel St. Michael, when seeking protection.
The name ‘Michaelmas’ comes from a shortening of “Michael’s Mass”, rather like ‘Christmas’ is “Christ’s Mass”, or indeed ‘Candlemas’, latter the Mass where traditionally the candles to be used throughout the year within the church and elsewhere would be blessed on. These same blessed candles serve as a symbol of Jesus Christ. The Gospel according to St. John Chapter 8. Verse 12. states, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Michaelmas Day falls near the Autumn Equinox, (September 22nd), and is associated in the northern hemisphere with the beginning of Autumn and the shortening of our days. Today, here in Ireland, was also considered a “gale day” when rents became due, under English rule.

Interestingly in folklore, Lucifer, when defeated by St. Michael, was said to have landed on earth in a briar patch. He became so annoyed, he pissed on their fruit, the humble blackberry; cursing them to be always inedible after September 28th of any future year.

Warning, if you made a batch of apple and blackberry jam today, it may not pass testing by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, (FSAI).


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.


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.