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Nature’s way: how a farm became a haven

Judy Murphy

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Mary Bermingham and her husband Ray in the Burren Bubble. “We wanted to be a nature centre, but knew we had to cater for families. Now we have a reputation as a kids’ place,” Mary says. Photos: Hany Marzouk.

Lifestyle  – Judy Murphy meets a couple who have developed a unique sanctuary for young and old in the Burren

Anybody who says you can’t be all things to all people hasn’t been to the Burren Nature Sanctuary, just outside Kinvara. It’s the brainchild of Mary Bermingham, who worked as an engineer during Ireland’s boom. When the recession hit and work dried up, she took a different route, and turned her 50-acre farm into a nature sanctuary so that visitors could learn about the flora and fauna of this landscape, which is unique in the world.

The result is a centre which hosts thousands of people every year from adults to schoolchildren and families.  Pathways through the farm allow people to explore, discovering wild flowers, rock formations and a lake which appears and disappears twice daily. This rich landscape also includes a doline, or collapsed cave, shattered limestone pavements, a pre-Famine village, an ancient round field, and indigenous woodlands. Visitors are welcome to explore all of them.

The Burren Nature Sanctuary has indoor and outdoor play areas for children, which are both fun and educational, while visitors can get up close with farm animals from pigs to goats to sheep and even Peruvian guinea pigs.

There’s also an award-winning café serving home-cooked food – much of it grown in the farm’s polytunnel.

Next weekend a new feature, the Burren Bubble, will be officially opened at the Sanctuary. The Bubble is a gift for anybody who wants to learn about local wildflowers and where to find them.

In this small bio-dome, horticultural expert Edward Dee has carefully planted a selection of flowers and herbs, either native to the farm or donated because they were under threat locally.

They have been replanted in groups as they’d be found in nature.  And so, plants from a limestone pavement area are all together in one section. In another, there’s an orchid-rich grassland. There’s also a wetland area. Another section has hazel and ash woodland, with samples of ash, hazel, oak and spindle. This space been designated the Burren National Botanical Collection by the London-based Botanic Gardens Conservation International, as it’s an invaluable collection of the area’s rare plants, says Mary, while Edward points out the various species.

Carved into the Burren Bubble’s stone floor is a beautiful circular Celtic calendar and sundial. This 13-month calendar offers information about native trees, Celtic festivals and the year’s solstices.

This farm is home to a turlough or a disappearing lake, which vanishes twice a day. A replica model in the Bubble demonstrates how the turlough drains into an underground cave and then into the sea. Mary’s engineering background came in useful for designing this.

Turloughs are common in this limestone region, but the one on this farm is unusual because it’s tidal, which means that it empties and fills twice a day.

It’s fed by the Blackwater River which flows down from Derrybrien on the Galway-Clare border, reaching the sea at Kinvara. When the tide is in, the Blackwater backs up, filling the turlough’s basin twice daily in summer, explains Mary, who did a project on this for her engineering degree. The turlough is there constantly during winter, when it fluctuates in height.

London-born Mary came to Kinvara in her late teens while on summer holidays from college in London and, in her own words, she “got stuck”!

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Coaching course helps teens find their life path

Denise McNamara

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Joe Delaney set up Career & Life Planning (CALP) in the last recession and has now developed a coaching course for young people called Success 4 Teens.

Fashion, Health and Beauty by Denise McNamara

When career and life coach Joe Delaney set about developing a course aimed at teenagers from his base in Loughrea, he could never have predicted he would have had such a captive audience.

The coaching industry is the second fastest growing sector in the world, worth an estimated $15 billion last year – much of it centred in the US.

While it doesn’t claim to diagnose or treat any condition, coaching aims to guide you to find your own solutions. The idea is that the tutor or coach picks apart your thoughts of where you are in life and helps to identify your life goals, helping to point out ways to get you to where you want to be.

Joe developed a coaching programme which he called ‘5 Steps to Success’, giving people the tools to “cope, adapt, improve, maintain and enjoy”.

“The framework allows people to cope better with everything that they are experiencing and adapt a different mindset or relationship to those thoughts.  From there, they will learn what they need to improve and maintain – that will get them closer to enjoyment in their personal and professional lives jointly,” he explains.

“We developed the company – called Career & Life Pltanning (CALP) – using this framework and we work with clients globally from our office in Loughrea supporting them to manage change and improve performance in work and home.

“Once this framework was proven and working well for people within the labour force, we began receiving requests from clients who had teens asking if there was a programme for teens.”

He had taken out a licence for a teen coaching course but found the content was very American so he adapted his programme to create Success 4 Teens, which is aimed at 13-19-year-olds

As the father of four – two of them teenage daughters – he knows that the hardest thing is to grab their attention.

And right now there has never been a more apt time for teens to sit down and assess their lives, process their feelings and chart a path forward, given they are unable to go to school or college, meet their friends, play sport or engage in their favourite activities.

The course is held over zoom on their phones, laptop or tablet for two hours on four consecutive Saturdays.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Country Living

Ode to an old friend that we may not see again for a time

Francis Farragher

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

On the greater scale of things, my particular difficulty won’t rate too highly in the list of current woes that we’re all enduring, but a night last week as I scurried off to bed shortly before 10pm, I came to the inescapable conclusion that I miss my local pubs.

While not everyone might agree, I don’t think I’m in the category of drinkers who needs to be carted off for a drying out course and since Paddy’s Day passed off so dryly, there’s been many’s the day and night that not a drop has crossed my lips.

Here and there on the home front if there’s a film being watched on TV or a burger being cooked outside (there’s a fancy name for that sort of thing which I refuse to use), I am partial to a bottle of Tiger, Moretti or my favourite Italian tipple, Peroni. But alas, it’s just not the same as the pint out of the barrel accompanied by an exchange of some gentle jibes about the good life that we’re all living.

They might be a dying breed but I do think that there’s something special about old country pubs. The two that I’m familiar with, also combine their trade with undertaking businesses, so I take some smite of morbid conolation from fact that they’ll look after me both in life in death, although each of those experiences, will leave me – and those left behind – with a lot less shillings in our pockets.

A few weeks back, I heard a story about a couple of old codgers who for the last 30 years had never stopped ‘picking’ at each other in the local pub. Neutrals would often remark that: “They’re at it again.” However, it has since emerged that since the lockdown started, both have independently admitted to missing each other. They just can’t wait for the ‘sparring’ to start again.

There’s something too about the game of cards in the pub whether it be a ‘six’ or a ‘nine’ in ‘25’ or a game of Spot that often seemed to endure for the night with ‘the pot’ sometimes gradually edging up to €30 or €40 as the witching hour approached. Not big money . . . no big gambles . . . but fought for as if our very lives depended on it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

Stephen Corrigan

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Film star Peter O'Toole joins ballad singers Eamon Rabbitte and Jack Geary in a session in Patsy Glynn's bar on Mary Street. Also in the picture are members of the Connact Tribune staff at the time, Andrew King, James Smith and James O'Donnell. Also pictured is Fred Herterich, vituallar, Lombard Street.

1920

Providing excursions

It has always been a source of complaint against Galway that it provides no pleasurable excursions for tourists. We have frequently urged the co-operation of the principal hotels so that motor runs and other means of providing interest and amusement might be established to attract visitors.

But one speaks to empty sounding spaces in this respect in Galway. The one hopeful evidence of progress we have had in recent years is the Omnibus Company. Possessed, as it is now, of a double-decker and a single-decker ‘bus and a char-a-banc, the directors intend to utilise the latter for pleasurable runs around Galway at reasonable fares.

On Sunday afternoon last twenty-nine passengers enjoyed a trip to Oughterard, for which 6s. return fare was charged. The double-decker will reinforce the two other vehicles by June 1.

It is a pity the controllers could not see their way to reduce the fare from Galway to Salthill, which is probably higher than that charged by any similar company for a trip of equal length.

Whilst it would be reasonable to charge the present fare during Race Week, we think a means could be found to effect a small reduction for the rest of the year.

Hair sheared in attack

Another haircutting outrage took place in a village called Cushlough, Castlemoyle about five miles from Tuam on Sunday night.

At about 11.30 p.m. five men, absolute strangers in the neighbourhood, and wearing no disguise of any sort, casually raised the latch of the door of Mr. Wm. Mannion’s house. The lamp in the kitchen was in full glow and Mannion’s sons had just returned home.

The other occupants, Ms. A. Divine, her grandmother, and two old men, had retired for the night. The party asked the son if a girl named Annie Divine lived there. They were told she was in bed, and the room was pointed out.

One man held a revolver towards Mannion’s son, whilst two held his hands behind his back. The two men entered Miss Divine’s bedroom. Hearing her name mentioned she had by this time jumped up and sat on the side of the bed with a cloak around her.

One of the men produced a letter which he said was taken in the capture of the mail bags between Bantry and Bandon. It was addressed to her from an R.I.C. constable named Edward Daly, son of Mr. Patk. Daly, Birmingham, in the neighbourhood of Miss Divine’s place.

He had joined the R.I.C. about two years ago, and she was acquainted with him before that. The contents of the letter were read for Miss Divine, and she says there was no reference in it to Sinn Féin, except that he asked her if she was attending the dances at Addergoole Sinn Féin hall.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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