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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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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”.

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“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.

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Longford Pass, Co. Tipperary, An Irish Answer To Roswell, New Mexico.

“Out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning. Behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.” Ezekiel Chapter 1

It’s being happening in Co. Tipperary long before the Roswell, New Mexico incident of July 1947, same still considered the most famous UFO case of all time.

Older people will remember that a flying saucer was supposedly struck by lightning, before crash landing, killing all aliens on board. Same wreckage was located by ranch foreman William “Mac” Brazel. Of course the claims were that the incident was covered up by the US government, who claimed it was simply a United States Army Air Force balloon.

Wind measuring device on Bord Na Móna bogland close to the area of Longford Pass, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Photo courtesy Two-Mile-Borris correspondent Mr Jerry Bowe.

Indeed, in the annals of American UFO history, few incidents have inspired as much fascination and speculation. Well that was until today.

For years local UFO observers in the Thurles area have kept what they saw back in early 1970, totally secret, refusing even to discuss the matter amongst themselves. However, recent happenings in the vicinity of Longford Pass, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; located close to the R639 south of the M8; forces me to break confidence. Yes, I report that Longford Pass and the surrounding area, is Ireland’s answer to Roswell, New Mexico.

Before I relate the frightening events of the early 1970’s, make yourself aware of the following; simply in the interests of health and safety, you understand.
If you and your partner should perchance, decide to take a nightly constitutional, for the betterment of your health; passing along the Clover Bog way, and if in the darkness you should look skyward, you will most likely observe a red flashing light.
No it is not a UFO. So fear not, a company called GaleTech Energy Services have simply installed this red flashing light on top of a 150 metre, approx. high structure, which in turn is supporting an instrument used to measure wind speed. (See image above).

Flying Saucers observed on Bord Na Móna bogland.

There have been, in all, 3 UFO incidents spoken about locally, in or around this area, starting first with a sausage shaped object as early as the late 1890’s. Another incident involving a UFO was reported closer to the Littleton village area, in the 1950’s, observed by 3 men, one of whom was a policeman; while the most recent siting occurred in the 1970’s.

The very large metal object observed in the 1950’s was watched having landed on the bogs surface for some minutes and was described as being of polished metal with circular windows. The object suddenly shone a beam of light on those watching, before spinning silently, whizzing off “at a speed faster than the speed of light”.

Having spoken to one of the observers, who witnessed the 1970’s sighting, he believes that the again large object he saw was sucking up bog water. The object he claims was in no hurry to leave and was viewed by a group of individuals working near the area of Drish Bridge, in Thurles.
This large object appeared to be stationary in the sky over the Longford Pass area. Spectators, having watched it for some minutes, saw the craft shoot out what looked like molten metal. Bright stars then flew around the stationary craft before it disappearing altogether moving eastwards slowly across the sky and out of sight.

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”.

[William Shakespeare “Hamlet” ]

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Three Tipperary OPW Sites Offering Free Admission To Outside Visitor Spaces.

Pic: G. Willoughby

With the country wisely making staycation holiday plans this year, the government has given hard-pressed families an uplift, by waving the cost of admission charges at all OPW sites for the rest of 2021.

Traditionally, except for the first Wednesday of each month, families had to shell out for an annual OPW heritage ticket to avail of free access to our best-loved castles, gardens and ancient sites, latter costing some €90 for a family pass.

In announcing this decision, Minister of State Mr Patrick O’Donovan stated that with a growing list of open heritage sites and the easing of travel restrictions, we have a renewed opportunity to explore the treasures which the OPW has in trust for the nation.

While the news is no doubt a limited blessing for holidaying families here in Tipperary, currently as yet only some OPW sites in the county are open and those that are, namely Cahir Castle, Ormond Castle and the Rock of Cashel, are only offering admission to their outside areas.

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Road From Yellow Lough To Cabra Road, Thurles To Close Temporarily.

Temporary Traffic Management will come into place on the R659, on the stretch from the Yellow Lough, Thurles to Cabra Road, Thurles in Co. Tipperary.

The reason for the Traffic Management is to undertake very necessary road resurfacing, which is expected to commence between 8:00am on May 19th 2021 and continue until 7:00pm on May 25th 2021.

Signage has already been put in place, warning of Tipperary Co. Councils intentions and further diversions will be put in place when work commences.

Local access only will be permitted, until the resurfacing work is complete.

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