Local Weather

real feel: 5°C
wind speed: 5 m/s SSW
sunrise: 7:26 am
sunset: 7:17 pm


Barney & Beakey’s Family Almost Ready To Travel.

Just hatched. Photo: G. Willoughby.

We wrote about a second clutch of 4 swallows being reared by “Barney” and “Beakey” some 15 days ago, soon after all their eggs hatched, on August 14th, 2021. Now 14 days later, look how they have grown, filling their second mud nest, on a diet of Thurles insects.

Almost ready for the long road ahead. Photo: G. Willoughby.

Swallows have been around on our planet for a very, very long time. A remark found in Aristotle’s (384BC–322BC) best-known work on ethics “Nicomachean Ethics” reads “one swallow does not a summer make”.

The play “Timon of Athens”, latter a sharp satire on wealth, greed and betrayal and written by William Shakespeare between 1605 and 1606, contains the phrase, “The swallow follows not summer more willing than we your lordship”.

On coming here to Thurles the swallow, in many cases, travels well over 6,500 miles from sub-Saharan Africa to spend the summer with us. They come to take advantage of our longer hours of daylight; our abundant sources of flying insects and the lack of other competition to their ‘on the wing’ food source. Were they to remain in their African winter-quarters, swallows would have to share their airspace with at least a dozen other related flying species.

Thus this small bird, that weighs less than an ounce (20 grams) is prepared to fly north-westwards, at great personal risk, to take advantage of our more temperate latitude, a classification we share with most of north-west Europe.

Swallows navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field; polarised light and visual landmarks, which incredibly allow them to return to the very same area here in Tipperary, where they were originally born.

Soon around mid-September of the current year, their return journey will take them back, south-eastwards, across the North Atlantic sea.
Since swallows feed entirely on flying insects, they don’t need to fatten up before departing, rather they will grab their food, on the wing, along their chosen flightpath; over their six week journey, covering up to 200 miles each day. They will, using day light, cross western Europe; breaking their journey, to drink or feed as they feel the need. They will congregate on headlands before taking flight to cross the Mediterranean Sea; then across the Sahara Desert; the jungles of equatorial Africa, until Table Mountain comes into their vision; thus signalling to each that they have at last reached the approximate vicinity of their wintering quarters.

Meanwhile, we here in Ireland are left bereft until next April. Watch them, enjoy them, while they are still around to be observed, in the knowledge and firm belief that “men may make plans, but God laughs”.


Newly Constructed Drain On Liberty Square Thurles Suffers Set Back.

Tipperary County Council values as we are well aware are, as William Shakespeare once stated; “More honoured in the breach than the observance”, especially when it comes to issues like ‘partnership’, ‘collaboration’ and the development of ‘inclusive community’, not to mention their solemn promise, (try not to laugh), ‘To protect and enhance the unique identity of built, historic and natural environment of Tipperary for future generations’.

While the final drawings for the Liberty Square €9million upgrade remain ‘kept tightly under wraps’, by Tipperary County Council official’s from even the business people who depend on their future livelihoods in this area; today we notice that one small problem has raised its ugly head.

It would appear that at least one newly designed drain, responsible for extricating water from the street area is today fully blocked. Unless of course same was placed in that area as ornamentation.

Alas, time and the prevailing elements forbade us from checking out the area fully. However the shore blocked can be located directly opposite the vacant, once licenced public house, known as T. Morris, situated on the “money side” of lower Liberty Square.

Still not to worry, as builder Mr O’ Reilly said to Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers, “If the good Lord ment us to worry, he would have given us something to worry about”.


Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends.

‘Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends’ – by Author Liam Ó Donnchú.

Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co Tipperary, is truly “the home of hurling”.

This illustrated history of Semple Stadium begins in 1884, when the GAA was founded in Thurles and chronicles the story of ‘Thurles Sportsfield’, from its purchase in 1910, right up to the present day.

This truly major publication features all its great days; from the development of the stadium; major games that were played there; significant players and managers; broadcasting from the grounds; the work of the groundsmen, Féile-The Trip to Tipp and other events held at the stadium over the years.

It also contains personal recollections and accounts of this place where legends are made. The publication is also richly illustrated by archive photographs and ephemera.

The Author.

Liam Ó Donnchú is a native of Hollyford, County Tipperary and now resides at Ballymoreen, near Thurles.

Having spent over four decades as a primary school teacher; Liam, now retired, is director of Lár na Páirce, the museum of Gaelic Games in Thurles and for many years, PRO of Semple Stadium. He is a former player, secretary and chairman of Thurles Sarsfields GAA club and at present its vice-president.

Liam is author of such publications as: Thurles Sarsfields GAA Story Vol 1&2, Tom Semple and The Thurles Blues, Pouldine School-Inné agus Inniu, co-author of Tipperary’s GAA Ballads, Horse and Jockey- a pictorial record and has written numerous articles on Gaelic games.

His latest book, ‘Semple Stadium – Fields of Legends’ will be published this September by the O’Brien Press and is available to pre-order online at Eason [ Link https://bit.ly/3ztEhGL ]

The book, which we highly recommend to lovers of Gaelic sports, is published in hardback; contains 384 pages and costs €24.99.



Bluebells. Photo G.Willoughby

The Bluebell.

By Anne Bronte
[Novelist, poet, youngest member of the Bronte literary family and daughter of Patrick Brontë an Irish clergyman.]

A fine and subtle spirit dwells
In every little flower,
Each one its own sweet feeling breathes
With more or less of power.
There is a silent eloquence
In every wild bluebell
That fills my softened heart with bliss
That words could never tell.

Yet I recall not long ago
A bright and sunny day,
‘Twas when I led a toilsome life
So many leagues away;
That day along a sunny road
All carelessly I strayed,
Between two banks where smiling flowers
Their varied hues displayed.

Before me rose a lofty hill,
Behind me lay the sea,
My heart was not so heavy then
As it was wont to be.
Less harassed than at other times
I saw the scene was fair,
And spoke and laughed to those around,
As if I knew no care.

But when I looked upon the bank
My wandering glances fell
Upon a little trembling flower,
A single sweet bluebell.
Whence came that rising in my throat,
That dimness in my eye?
Why did those burning drops distil —
Those bitter feelings rise?

O, that lone flower recalled to me
My happy childhood’s hours
When bluebells seemed like fairy gifts
A prize among the flowers,
Those sunny days of merriment
When heart and soul were free,
And when I dwelt with kindred hearts
That loved and cared for me.

I had not then mid heartless crowds
To spend a thankless life
In seeking after others’ weal
With anxious toil and strife.
‘Sad wanderer, weep those blissful times
That never may return!’
The lovely floweret seemed to say,
And thus it made me mourn.


Two-Mile-Borris Sensory Garden

Exquisite Sensory Garden at
Two-Mile-Borris, Thurles, Co. Tipp.

A well designed sensory garden epitomises the adage that “gardening adds years to your life and life to your years”. Two-Mile-Borris village, near Thurles, in County Tipperary, is home to an exquisite sensory garden that provides enormous benefits both to its visitors and to the local community.

What is a Sensory Garden?
A sensory garden is a garden that is designed to stimulate all five main senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell), and in doing so, has been shown to have many and diverse benefits for its visitors.

What are the benefits of a Sensory Garden?
Sensory gardens are associated with multiple benefits, including having a positive impact on our cognition, physical fitness, creativity, mental health and well-being.
In terms of cognition, building and caring for a sensory garden provides ample opportunities for young and old to acquire new knowledge and skills. Planting and playing in a sensory garden can also help to improve fine and gross motor skills.

When it comes to physical fitness, any gardener will tell you that gardens and exercise go hand in hand, whether you are digging, weeding or simply walking outdoors and enjoying the sunshine. A sensory garden, by virtue of its stimulating design, encourages movement, as visitors explore all that it has to offer by way of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.

Sensory gardens and the role they can play in supporting mental health and well-being is widely recognised. Different sensory experiences can immediately lift our mood, helping us to feel calm or joy. The very act of sitting outdoors and taking in the sights and sounds that nature has to offer, can help alleviate our stress levels.

For children and adults with sensory processing needs and other special needs, sensory gardens are praised for their therapeutic benefits and the opportunities they provide for sensory stimulation, emotional regulation, language experiences and social skills development.

The Two-Mile-Borris sensory garden, in terms of creativity, is a place of magic and wonder for all visitors. The materials and plants have been purposely selected to stimulate our imaginations, in addition to our senses. Life size insects and fantastical structures provide wonderful opportunities for artistic expression and storytelling, both now and into the future.

Apart from the positive impact the Two-Mile-Borris sensory garden has had on the local villagers themselves; situated beside the local primary school it has now also become undeniably beneficial as an additional outdoor classroom. Indeed, under the supervision of Two-Mile-Borris Development Association, many of the wonderful sensory items within the garden have been either constructed or introduced into this area by the local school pupils themselves, thus making this area, “Their Special Place”.

Where can I learn more about Sensory Gardens?
There is no one design for a sensory garden, but all five senses must be represented and there are certain plants and materials that you will typically find in a sensory garden because of their stimulating nature.

To find out more about sensory gardens why not visit this wonderful imaginative garden in Two-Mile-Borris and explore its selection of plants and materials that aim to stimulate touch, taste, sight, sound and smell.
This garden, like all sensory gardens nationwide, has just three simple rules, (1) No dogs to avoid dog fouling; (2) No alcohol consumption; (3) No smoking.

Two-Mile-Borris Development Association are anxious to emphasise that their local village sensory garden was initially the brainchild of the late Ann Commins. Today it stands as a lasting memorial to her creativity, her total dedication and true community spirit.

Thanks to the work of Liz & Philip Quinn, (Stonemad Sculpture Workshops), Holycross, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

A special thanks also to Development Association Chairperson Michelle Maher-King & Treasurer Maeve Russell, for their editorial assistance and continued promotion of this truly remarkable village asset.