Category Archives: Uncategorized

Autumn Talks 2013

Biodiversity Report for Headford

On 10th December, the third  and final talk of the Autumn 2013 series, will be a report from a recent biodiversity study carried out in the town of Headford.

An exciting learning opportunity arose for  11 postgraduate students at NUIG to carry out surveys of the biodiversity found along the Sandybanks lane for Headford Environmental Group and the local community. The students carried out habitat mapping, and recorded plants and animals along stretches of the lane. The students are undertaking a taught MSc in Sustainable Resource Management Policy and Practice which is a multidisciplinary course jointly run by NUIG and UL.

Thanks to the students, who have kindly agreed to share their findings, we are delighted to welcome you to join us to hear the results of their work. Who knows, there may even be a mince pie or two….

10th December at 8pm in Anglers Rest Hotel, Headford.

All Welcome!

Here’s a taster of what they found….

One of our residents.

One or two of our Headford residents.

Wood Mouse





‘The story of a Community Garden in Co. Galway’    by  Lynn O’Keeffe-Lascar,

 A Galway woman, Lynn studied commercial organic vegetable production at Otley College of Agriculture in Suffolk in 1996.
Having worked on commercial organic farms in Ireland and Italy for several years, she now lives in Kinvara on the Clare /Galway border, where she is married with 3 children.
In Kinvara Lynn helped to set up a local community garden in 2005 with a group of  volunteers and support from the Heritage Council – namely Doorus Orchard Project. This community orchard, where she works as garden manager in a voluntary capacity, is in a walled in garden, and planted up with 70 heritage fruit trees & a wide range of soft fruits, and contains vegetable gardens, poly tunnels, a picnic area, an outdoor oven,  biodiversity garden and ornamental plantings.
Lynn has a great interest in the benefits of community gardening, and has helped other groups get started, particularly Kilkishin in County Clare with funding from Clare Rural Development. She also writes a regular article on wildlife gardening for WINGS , the Birdwatch Ireland quarterly magazine.
Since 2009, in partnership with Anna Jeffrey Gibson, Lynn worked with Kinvara Sustainable Living, as an outreach horticulturist. They teach courses in fruit and vegetable growing, polytunnel culture and poultry keeping. Kinvara Sustainable Living runs day courses, evening classes,  transition year programmes for secondary school, and VEC funded courses. The talk will take place in The Angler’s Rest Hotel, Headford Co. Galway,  on 17th Oct @ 8 pm. Admission free. Donations welcome. Open to all. Further talks are to follow in November and December.

Headford’s First Bird Dawn Chorus Event Sunday May 19th

To mark Biodiversity Week 2013 several brave souls dragged themselves out of bed to meet up at 5am at Greenfields, close to the causeway to Inchiquin Island. These intrepid bird watchers were ably led by Neil Sharkey and by 7am a total of 33 different bird species had either been heard or seen by the group. The small but varied area searched by the group yielded familiar summer visitors such as the swallow but also three secretive warblers, two wading species and a tern. There were five species of crow, four different finches, and even a goose! All 33 species are listed below.


Neil pointed out the difference between the calls of the three warblers; the rich melodic, soft, clear warbling notes of the Blackcap, the loud, fast sequence of harsh grating chattering notes of the Sedge Warbler, and the thin, pleasant liquid notes of the Willow Warbler, which starts out softly, rises in pitch and then fades away. The calls of the Cuckoo and the Wood Pigeon were distinguished by listening carefully for the Cuckoo’s ‘cuc-coo’ and the pigeon’s ‘cooo-cooo’.

 The most exciting twitching moments were spotting a group of Whimbrel flying along the horizon and a Common Sandpiper. The Whimbrels were on their spring migration, moving north from wintering grounds in Africa to breeding grounds in Iceland and northern Europe. The sandpiper is a small wader that is at home on the edges of rocky water bodies, and was spotted resting on rocks but also flying low over the surface of the water.

Just as the group started to make its way back to the cars, an Arctic Tern was spotted making shallow dives into the water, presumably feeding on small fish. To reinforce the fact that it is generally much easier to watch birds than mammals, the only hint of the latter was the very strong fox scent picked up at one spot along the walk.

The event was enjoyably rounded off with a hot cup of tea. The target for next year’s dawn chorus is 40 species!


Common Gull; Black-headed Gull

Willow Warbler; Sedge Warbler; Blackcap



Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet

Wood Pigeon




Blue Tit


Raven; Jackdaw; Hooded Crow; Rook; Starling

Greylag Goose




Mute Swan



Common Sandpiper


Pied Wagtail

Arctic Tern


 Kate McAney – Headford Environment Group

Don’t Forget Our Last Spring Talk….


‘Irish Bumble Bees’ by Dr Una Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, 24th April, 2013 at in the Angler’s Rest Hotel.

Our final talk for this Spring will be given by Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Ecologist with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Bees are Ireland’s most important pollinators and provide a vital ecological and economic service to society. However of the 101 different species of bee that occur in Ireland, around 30 are threatened with extinction and three have become extinct over the last 80 years.

Everyone is welcome. Our talks are free, but any donations given on the night are used for projects of the Headford Environment Group.

Spring Talks 2013

Spring Talks 2013

‘Leather Wings and Bushy Tails’ by Dr. Kate McAney

Wednesday, 20th March 2013 at 8pm in the Angler’s Rest Hotel

Following the success of our talk on Barn Owls, we are delighted to present this talk on bats, stoats and pine martens. Our speaker, works for the Vincent Wildlife Trust, and is a member of our group.

Kate has worked for the Trust in Ireland since 1991. She manages 13 lesser horseshoe bat reserves located along the west coast, from Mayo in the north to Kerry in the south. Since 2010, she has run pilot studies on the Irish stoat in County Galway. She promotes mammal conservation and research through lectures, bat walks and publications. Kate completed her PhD at University College, Galway, on the summer activity of the lesser horseshoe bat. She has a particular interest in the diet of insectivorous bats; her most recent study was on Bechstein’s bat. Kate was a founder member of the Galway Bat Group and is a committee member of Bat Conservation Ireland. Office: Headford, County Galway.

‘Irish Bumble Bees’ by Dr Una Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, 24th April, 2013 at in the Angler’s Rest Hotel.

Our final talk for this Spring will be given by Dr Una Fitzpatrick, Ecologist with the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

Bees are Ireland’s most important pollinators and provide a vital ecological and economic service to society. However of the 101 different species of bee that occur in Ireland, around 30 are threatened with extinction and three have become extinct over the last 80 years.

Everyone is welcome. Our talks are free, but any donations given on the night are used for projects of the Headford Environment Group.

Spring Talks for 2013

Yes, its that time of year again, and we are happy to announce our series of Spring talks for 2013. This year, we start with the well know expert from Birdwatch Ireland, John Lusby, who will be talking to us about ‘Barn Owls in Ireland’. This will take place in the Angler’s Rest Hotel, Headford on Wednesday, 20th February 2013 at 8 pm.

We’ll have two further talks, in March  and April. Details will be announced soon, both here and on our Facebook pages, ‘Headford Golden Mile’ and ‘Headford Environment Group’

Biodiversity Training in Headford

Biodiversity Training for local communities that will start in Headford on Thursday January 17th at 7.30pm in the Angler’s Rest Hotel. This training should be of interest to a wide range of people including farmers, anglers, tidy towns groups, environmental groups, teachers, group water schemes and anyone with an interest in nature, the environment and community development.

All welcome!

A Community Garden for Headford

We are setting up a community garden in Headford.

If you are interested in getting involved, whether you have gardening expertise or not, please come along to the Angler’s Rest on Thursday 18th April at or ring Mags on 087 6708123

Following on:

Glad to say that we had a really good turnout, however, new people would still be welcome. Our next meeting is a visit to Kilmaine Community Garden on Thursday 25th April at 11.30am.


Introducing our final Spring Talk, ‘Climate Change: The Science Behind The Spin’, by Michael Henehan.

Wed 2nd May at 8pm in Angler’s Rest Hotel, Headford.

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to differentiate the wheat from the chaff with regards climate change science. Too often, opinion is muddled with fact. Too often, climate change is viewed from within a political, or religious frame: a dogma that one may choose to identify oneself with, rather than an empirical fact.
What’s more, even among those who are comfortable that man-made climate change is a reality, there is a worrying lack of understanding about the fundamentals of climate change: how it happens, how we know it is happening, etc.
This talk will attempt to cut through a lot of the nonsense that surrounds the science of climate change and get down to the basics- how does climate change happen, has it happened before, and what has been happening since we’ve started burning fossil fuels.

Michael Henehan, a former pupil of PCH, is currently a Phd researcher, working on “Ground-truthing the Boron Isotope Proxy” at University of Southhampton, having graduated with an MSci in ‘Paleontology and Evolution’ at University of Bristol

Wednesday, 2nd May at 8pm in The Anglers’ Rest Hotel, Headford.


On 19th April, we are pleased to present our second Spring talk. We welcome Elaine O’Riordan who is the Manager for the Galway County Biodiversity Project ‘People and Nature’. Biodiversity simply means the great variety of life in nature including all the different plants, animals and habitats.  The aim of the project is to encourage greater awareness and care for the biodiversity of County Galway.

Invasive species are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Elaine will discuss the problem with invasive plant and animal species in general and describe  some of the main pest alien species in County Galway.

The talk will take place in the Angler’s Rest Hotel, Headford at 8pm on Thursday 19th April. There will be no charge for admittance but donations will be requested on the night. Any funds raised will go towards future Environment Group projects.

All welcome!


Wolves In Ireland

A public talk by Dr. Kieran Hickey of NUIG.

March 22nd, 2012 at 8pm in The Angler’s Rest Hotel, Headford.

Dr Kieran Hickey has written a book on ‘Wolves in Ireland: A Natural and Cultural History’, Dublin Four Courts Press. (Copies will be available on the night).

Wolves were a common part of the Irish landscape until 1786 when the last one was shot in Co. Carlow. Wolves had survived longer in Ireland than in any part of Britain. There is substantial evidence for wolves in Ireland include archaeological, place names, , mythology, folklore and documentary data and the existence of the Irish wolf dog. The earliest archaeological data shows that wolves were a feature of the Irish landscape 25,000 years ago. The earliest writing in Ireland from the various monastic annals of the first millennium suggests that the monks were familiar with wolves. This book sets out to tell the story of wolves in Ireland, how long they have been around, where they occurred, how they existed, their relationship with humans and how perceptions of them changed with the arrival of the English in the 1600’s. The new English settlers were horrified to discover that many parts of the country were infested with wolves, as wolves had been eliminated from England prior to AD 1500. The book also plots the extermination of wolves from the Irish landscape and how this was achieved using legislation, bounties, professional wolf hunters and deforestation. Finally the possible uniqueness of the Irish wolf is considered along with the possibility of reintroduction.

Dr. Kieran Hickey is a lecturer in physical geography in the Department of Geography. His previous two books dealt with climate change which is his major area of expertise. These are 2008 Five Minutes to Midnight: Ireland and Climate Change, White Row Press, Belfast and 2010 Deluge: Ireland’s weather disasters, 2009-2010, Dublin, Four Courts Press.

Kieran has published extensively in many other academic journals and chapters in edited books and atlases on many aspects of climate change with a particular interest in Ireland.