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Nature’s way: how a farm became a haven

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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

Vitamin D and good postural balance may help as we age

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Health, Beauty and Lifestyle with Denise McNamara

Having just turned 50 aging is particularly on my mind this month. So two recent studies about aging peaked my interest which are worth sharing. The first is a study from the University of South Australia and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is based on data from 294,514 participants from the UK Biobank, a biomedical database with half a million British participants.

Scientists found that in some populations, up to 17 per cent of dementia cases could be prevented simply by raising people’s vitamin D in the blood to 50 nmol/L, which is considered to be the normal level.

Dementia affects over 55 million people worldwide and every year 10 million new cases are diagnosed so the implications could be huge.

It is the first time the impact of very low levels of vitamin D are examined on the risks of dementia and stroke by using genetic analyses among a large study population.

There is widespread vitamin D deficiency among people worldwide, even in sunny regions where sun awareness campaigns, indoor living and other factors contribute to the low vitamin D levels,

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Galway in Days Gone By

Galway In Days Gone By

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Rev Fr Raymond Watters O.P recites a decade of the rosary as the rain begins to pour down during the Blessing of Galway Bay on August 15, 1882.

1922

Dawn surrender

National troops operating from Galway and Athenry at dawn on Wednesday morning surrounded an area about four miles between Liscananaun village and Aucloggeen, on the eastern side of the Corrib, and after a smart movement captured nineteen irregulars, with their officers, twenty-two service and Mauser rifles, a number of service revolvers and automatics, and considerable quantities of ammunition for bombs.

The National troops were under command of Co-Commandant Austin Brennan, O.C., Galway area, and the various battalion and company officers, and the plan to surround these villages, which lie in a marshy waste between the Curragh Line, or Galway-Headford road, and the main road from Galway to Tuam, was evolved after information had been received that a number of irregulars were quartered there, and were commandeering sheep and foodstuffs from people in surrounding districts.

Slowly and silently, accompanied by a Lancia armoured car on which machine guns were mounted, the National troops moved out from Galway shortly before two a.m. on Wednesday. One column took the Galway to Headford road, the other taking the Tuam road.

The column operating on the Headford road swung to the right beyond the Cregg river, taking the road to Drumgriffin. By dawn they had taken up extended formation in the woods around Cregg Castle, and this formed a trap into which the irregulars were subsequently driven.

Trade unions position

Mr. Cathal O’Shannon, T.D., in his presidential address at the Trade Union Congress on Monday, declare that organised Labour was separate from and independent of any political party, and would take no dictation from any quarter outside its own ranks.

He strongly protested against militarism, from whatever quarter it came, and condemned the political censorship of thought and opinion, the ignoring of laws relating to the custody of prisoners, the existence of a semi-military police force, and the propaganda on both sides.

The present conflict or strife, he declared, was unnecessary and counselled the Irish workers to keep aloof from it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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Country Living

Trying to find the time to slow down that clock

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Country Living with Francis Farragher

AS one gets older the realisation dawns that time – and not material wealth – is our greatest asset but boy does that clock fairly freewheel around with each passing year.

Anytime a conversation switches around to the question of: “How long is such-and-such a person dead,” the guesstimate answers usually need to be doubled. Looking back on time makes us all realise how fast it is flying by.

I always contend that winning the lotto – as exciting and all as that would be – would not make any of us one second younger and in all probability would not add on one day to our eventual date with destiny.  In fact it might even know a few years off if we lost the rag and went mad with the lucre.

My late father used to have a favourite saying about wealth and money namely that while it wouldn’t necessarily bring you happiness in this world it would ‘help you to enjoy your misery’.

Even a couple of Sundays back while sitting in the Hogan Stand and witnessing Galway’s gallant attempt to win the All-Ireland title, it was kind of hard to credit that 21-years had passed since we were last in a senior final and 24-years since we ended a 32-year famine with the victory over Kildare in 1998.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

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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