The Islands of Ireland: Former East Skeam resident recalls life on the island in West Cork

Overlooking Roaringwaterbay in West Cork is a house on a hill. A couple of Scots pine trees stand by the house as if on guard. The setting is majestic — the island of East Skeam. The views are otherworldly, writes Dan MacCarthy.

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Billy Murphy’s strolls were a constant in a changing world

Not part of the bay but part of the view of the bay was this elderly man, springy of step and healthy of complexion, forging along with his walking stick at a lively clip and no-nonsense gait, in latter years wearing an overcoat in late autumn and winter and, only in the last few years or so, companioned by a daughter or son.

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Irish beaches scourged by plastic

A stroll on a beach anywhere in Ireland reveals the scale of the marine littering problem, says Donal Hickey

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Sharks show us the way in travel dilemma

Today’s jet aircraft are 80% more fuel-efficient than those of the 1960’s, but aviation still accounts for 3.5% of human-induced climate change, writes Richard Collins

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Tips to pick the best Christmas tree

Peter Dowdall gives some practical advice on choosing the right Christmas tree this weekend.  

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The Islands of Ireland: Island of serendipity

SOME islands are synonymous with writers: JM Synge with Inis Meáin; The Great Blasket with Tomás Ó Criomhthain.

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Beautiful plaques are key to West Cork’s bird life

ON THESE bright winter mornings, when the tide is out, the sand of Courtmacsherry Bay is carved by cobalt rivers, flowing toward the surf line in the distance. 

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Problem of one-off houses

A HEFTY price is being paid for relaxed planning regulations, over many decades, which allowed houses almost everywhere in rural areas, particularly in western counties.

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Getting by with a little help from their friends

WITHOUT the help of grand-parents siblings and friends, single mothers can find it difficult to raise a child.

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Turning your garden into a winter wonderland

A touch of frost and a hazy shade of winter can transform your garden, says Peter Dowdall

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The islands of Ireland: A Rising tide and the arrival of the Aud at Illauntannig

Dan MacCarthy explores llauntannig, an island where the Aud lay anchored off during the 1916 Rising.

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Murmurations of starlings certainly are a sight to behold

IN Timoleague, west Cork, where the famous 13th century abbey overlooks the sea, there may be seen, these evenings, one of the most extraordinary displays of coordination and swarm behaviour in nature, a murmuration of starlings, says Damien Enright.

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Hopes soar for a 2018 Irish-bred white-tailed eagle chick

Hopes are rising that an Irish-bred, white-tailed eagle will produce a chick in 2018, writes Donal Hickey

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Acoustic benefit of big ears can slow bats down

The bigger a bat’s ears, the better its hearing, is likely to be. But is it, asks Richard Collins

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Shrubs producing vibrant berries the answer for drab winter gardens

Shrubs producing a feast of vibrant berries could be the answer for drab winter gardens, says Hannah Stephenson.            

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Crab fisherman need department’s help after Ophelia

My friends, the local crustacean fishermen of West Cork’s Seven Heads, have still received no help from the Department of the Marine in replacing equipment lost during Storm Ophelia, writes Damien Enright.

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Rats as abundant as ever

As we recently mentioned, it’s a fabulous year for berries and wildlife is taking advantage. Rats, it seems, are climbing onto hawthorn trees and feasting on a rich crop of wine-red haws, which are now fully ripe, writes Donal Hickey.

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New ape species revealed in all its majesty

In 1842, Queen Victoria visited London Zoo, where Jenny, a female orangutan, made an indelible impression on her, writes Richard Collins.

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The unknown Kerry beauty of Church Island laying low to the surrounding Lough Kay

Many of us tend to idealise life beside the ocean and imagine balmy summer evenings with the sea gently lapping nearby and a glorious sunset emblazoned on the sky, writes Dan MacCarthy.

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Books that belong on the gardener's bookshelf

Peter Dowdall on two books that are well worth their place on any gardener’s bookshelf this season

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Simple measures to help our disappearing Winter wildlife

Many wildlife species are in decline but some simple measures can help a lot, writes Rita de Brún

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The Islands of Ireland: Scattery Island off Kilrush Co Clare

Scattery Island round tower and Teampall Naomh Mhuire, off Kilrush Co Clare has been uninhabited since 1978 but was previously home to a monastic settlement for 600 years, writes Dan MacCarthy

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The Selvagems, shearwaters, and surviving shipwreck

Up to 20,000 Cory’s Shearwaters, oceanic birds with 1.25m wingspans, were breed on the Selvagem Islands, 280 km south of Madeira. Big, meaty birds, the squabs were traditionally harvested and salted for food. Monks on Skellig Michael similarly harvested gannet squabs from Small Skellig, writes Damien Enright

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EU law vital to our island

HARD to credit, but a staggering 650 pieces of EU law are in place to protect the Irish environment, north and south. 

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Ancient human species still in our genes

All of us in Europe carry genes from this human species, writes Richard Collins

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Autumn provides a treasure for your soil

Gathering up fallen leaves and leaving them to decompose may mean a wait of up to 12 months, but the end result will have huge benefits for your garden, writes Fiann Ó Nualláin.

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Ferns need a bit of love to branch out

The Australian tree fern requires a bit of love — and doesn’t like years as cold as 2010, recalls Peter Dowdall.

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A brush with royalty on Tory Island

It’s not every ferry from which you disembark that a king is there to meet you with a firm handshake, writes Dan MacCarthy

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Beautiful woodlands bore the brunt of Ophelia’s winds

It was a once-in-a-lifetime event — we hope — Hurricane Ophelia, roaring across Ireland on October 16, and it wasn’t until five days later that we could enter our local woods with any degree of safety, writes Damien Enright

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Holly’s the berries this year

A number of readers have been in contact regarding the large amount of berries on holly trees noticeable throughout the autumn, writes Donal Hickey

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Sleeping off a tough winter to survive

Winter is upon us. Many birds fly south to avoid the cold wet darkness, but migration isn’t an option for mammals. They have to make do with thicker coats and extra layers of body fat, writes Richard Collins

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Top tips for feeding your soil, while helping you and the planet

From the demonised beetle to crop rotation, Fiann Ó Nualláin spells out what’s necessary to ensure good soil health and help the environment.

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Be sure to buy Irish plants

Plants grown outdoors here are better equipped to survive than cheap imports, writes Peter Dowdall.

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Snappers capture the deer

It’s probably safe to say that Irish red deer have never been photographed as much during their mating or, more commonly known, rutting season.

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Fungie may be more like us than we thought

“It takes a village to raise a child,” it’s often said. To become a viable human being, a youngster must learn to relate not only to members of his or her extended family but to the wider community.

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Let’s hear it for the Antipodean Satan Number One

The Tasmanian Devil was simply snuffling in the snow beneath the bedroom window of the guesthouse where our friend was sleeping somewhere in  upland Tasmania, last month. 

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The legend of the spider on Rathlin Island

Spiders don’t often get a mention in legends. There are plenty of dogs, horses, boars and even swans in everything from the Cú Chulainn sagas and the Children of Lir.

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Here's how you can help with hedgehog hibernation

Build it and they might come — if the bats, frogs, and other creatures wake from their slumbers. Fiann Ó Nualláin offers some tips.

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Helping the tree population recover from storm Ophelia

Peter Dowdall on the devastating aftermath of Ophelia on our tree population.

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The islands of Ireland: The hidden church off the coast of Kerry

It is a place of worship, but not in the traditional sense. The towering cliffs of Inishnabro are known as the cathedral rocks as they resemble a magnificent church. Some, but not many, have come to kneel at their altar, writes Dan MacCarthy.

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