Damien Enright

Harvesting almonds the precursor to a heavenly taste

When I was very young, and slabs were cut from my mother’s home-made Christmas cake to be divided into fingers, I’d always get the outside finger, with marzipan not only on top, but running down the length of one side.

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Mideast origins for our hunter-gathering genes

With plump, ripe blackberries now in the hedges, I find it hard to cover distance when I go walking. There must be a gatherer, if not a hunter, in my blood. We were, all of us, of course, once hunter-gatherers, writes Damien Enright

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Enchanting sight of wild chanterelles

It may be stale news by the time you read this, but following the recent “no butterflies this year” narrative of my last two columns, I have begun to see red admirals and peacocks flitting over the purple (or, sometimes, creamy) buddleia still, happily, in flower. 

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Absence of butterflies attributable to hedgerow cutting

Last week, I wrote about butterflies, their notable absence this year, and expressed the hope that by the time you read the column, on the August bank holiday weekend, favourable winds might have brought in the migrant red admirals and painted ladys, while a rise in temperature might have woken up or led to a hatch of small tortoiseshells and other species.

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Worrying lack of butterflies landing on my buddleia

Fat purple buddleia burgeoning on the hedges and waste ground, and no butterflies. I found a dead beauty on the floor of a shower unit in a room we rarely use; it was a small tortoiseshell in the vivid colours of a Persian carpet fresh from the loom.

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Spreading slurry in the middle of a holiday season stinks

Spreading slurry in the middle of a holiday season stinks, writes Damien Enright

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West Cork homes the spellbinding dance of the house martin bird from tropical Africa

The summer evenings here in our West Cork village is full not of “the linnet’s wings” of WB Yeats’s ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ but of house martin’s wings. These birds faithfully come all the way from tropical Africa to nest below the fascia boards on sea-facing houses each year.

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Plastic bottles are decimating ocean life

BACK TO Ireland to a countryside every bit as lush and lovely as Czech, and a sea as blue as the Med, in the Balearics, if not as warm. 

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Making hay while the sun shines in Bohemia

THE scent of mown hay, kicked up after we emerge from the dappled woods and cross the baking fields to reach my son’s workshop in a huge and ancient barn deep in the Czech Republic countryside, brings back memories, as if the nose can remember the sweet smells of long ago.

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Red kites, not in sunset, but spectacular

THE sky over the children’s playground in a park behind my daughter’s house at Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire, was full of kites. Not box kites or fighting kites but red kites, birds now as commonplace as the rook over the gardens and streets of her neighbourhood.

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Enemy number one of the global environment

I read in an old National Geographic magazine (2002) that scientists had mapped human impact on the natural world and estimated that 83% of the total land surface and 98% of the areas where it is possible to grow the world’s three main crops — rice, wheat, and maize — had been directly influenced by human activities.

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Not quite a stick-in-the mud on the back roads

Once during the recent very warm weather, standing at a country crossroads trying to make up my mind which way I’d go, I found my boots stuck in the tar. I almost had to reach down to lift and unglue them.

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The curlew tolls the knell of parting day

Last week, I saw the first heron fledgling I’ve seen this year, fishing down at the beach. It was already, it seemed, aware of the refraction caused by sunlight on water, or was learning about it, experimenting with the heron trick of holding its head sideways in order to judge the correct angle at which to stab.

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Nature is out of joint, o cursed spite I was born to set it right

The soil is warming with the sun, writes Damien Enright

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Exploding dolphins not the best way to dispose of carcass

A dead dolphin at Broadstrand, Seven Heads, West Cork, carried in on a high tide and now above the tideline, so not likely to be carried out again. It’s a big animal, rotund and heavy. It’s on a popular walking route: what’s to be done?

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Darling buds of May have us licking our lips

DURING the month of the scaraveen (discussed extensively by Donal Hickey on this page last week) “rough winds” did indeed “shake the darling buds of May”, as Shakespeare so perfectly described the emerging blossom, and its annual rout, some 400 years ago.

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Title of prettiest bird has many competitors

BIRDS are quick to exploit any new food sources. The other afternoon, a beautiful May day, we spotted an egret fishing in a small stream inland from Clogheen Marsh, near Clonakilty in West Cork, where two shelduck were feeding in a flooded meadow, writes Damien Enright

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Tales of zombies and dead dead in western hemisphere

A COUPLE of years ago I wrote about a fuzzy-haired Czech professor with a head full of brains who had discovered a virus that could get into a human mind and make its owner reckless, writes Damien Enright

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Damages award a set back for walkers in Ireland

Earlier this month the walking community in Ireland was greatly alarmed to learn that a woman, who slipped and cut her knee on a boardwalk when walking The Wicklow Way, was awarded €40,000 damages against the National Parks & Wildlife Service who had installed it, writes Damien Enright

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No country for old men... or any rural person for that matter

The countryside is closing down, the village shops, post offices and pubs closing their doors and the citizens without cars left grocery-less and drink-less. 

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A fine meal made from hare found on the road

After midnight, driving home from Cork Airport — the last leg of our 15 hour journey from La Gomera, a small island off Tenerife in the Canary Islands — we came upon a fortunate, if regrettable, treat.

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Spring bursting into life along clifftops of home

BACK on the ground — back on the Holy Ground, that is — I head for the woods and the cliffs that I know so well just to see how nature is progressing in early spring 2016, in Ireland, writes Damien Enright

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