If a 15 year old understands Climate change why don’t our leaders

Murtagh's Meadow

I urge all of you to listen to the words of fifteen year old Greta Thunberg from Sweden who spoke so eloquently at the United Nations COP24 conference – you can find an article and video link to her talk here.

She is so right – we the people hold the power and we must make the changes. Greta is inspiring and I only wish our politicians would listen to her wise words. She will be my 2018 hero.


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Playing for our lives

An excellent post from Some Small Holding on the importance of play.

Some Small Holding

08 Young boys with play a street game in Spanish Harlem in January 1947

One sunny afternoon a few years ago, my then 9-year-old son uttered those words every parent or carer will be familiar with: “Mum, I am bored.” I gave him my usual response: “Go outside and find someone to play with.” He went out and returned five minutes later: “There is nobody out there.” I looked out the window to check that it hadn’t suddenly started raining, but no, the sun was high in the sky and not a cloud in sight. And indeed—not a kid in sight either.

Between June and December of 2016 researcher and urban explorer Daniel Raven-Ellison walked “the length of Britain and a bit” wearing an EEG headset that monitored his brain’s responses to the different places he visited. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 earlier this year he was asked to share some of the things that had stood out during his journey. “There…

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Brilliant Butterflies

Spring has finally arrived and with it come flowers. And once we have flowers, we suddenly start seeing butterflies too. Butterflies love two things – flowers and sunshine!

Ireland has 32 resident and 3 regular migrant species. All butterflies have a four stage life-cycle; egg, larva (caterpillar), pupa (chrysalis) and adult butterfly. Some butterflies over-winter as adults (sleeping somewhere sheltered, like old barns) and some overwinter as pupa.

Green-veined white on ragged robin

Green veined white on ragged robin

The green veined white butterfly in the above photograph would have emerged from a pupa that had over-wintered.

While the peacock butterfly in the photo below would have hibernated over winter as an adult. You can see that it’s colours are a little bit dull.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

These are the caterpillars of a peacock butterfly. The caterpillars feed on nettles.




Butterfly Craft

Butterfly craft

Butterfly craft

This is one of my favourite fun crafts. All you need is card, craft sticks, glue, pompoms, coloured pipecleaners, stickers



Colouring pages

Try this peacock colouring sheet or this tortoiseshell one.


Butterfly spotter Guides

Use this Nature Detective spotter guide to help you identify butterflies you see.

See also Wildlife Watch Guides

Both good for UK and Ireland

For online guide to butterflies of North America see here.


Butterfly Life Cycle

Learn all about the Butterfly Life Cycle here.


Web links

Butterfly Conservation Ireland

Irish Butterflies website

Butterfly Conservation UK


Heritage in Schools

Murtagh's Meadow

Heritage in Schoolsis a scheme run by the Heritage Council, here in Ireland. I have recently become a member of the Heritage in Schools panel. This panel is made up of individuals with expertise in various heritage subjects including science, geography, history and culture. Primary schools are encouraged to invite members of the panel to visit their school so that the children may develop a greater awareness of Ireland’s natural and cultural heritage. The children have fun learning outdoors and get to enjoy many different aspects of heritage and the environment.  The cost of the visits are subsidised by the Heritage Council.

My own workshops will focus on biodiversity, pollinators, Ireland’s wildlife, and school gardens. Workshops can be tailored to the needs of the school or the individual classes.
I am looking forward to working with schools here in the west of Ireland.
For more information click on any…

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Irish Hares

Irish hares are one my favourite animals. So I was delighted with this young hare visited our garden recently.

Young Irish Hare

Young Irish Hare

The Irish Hare is native to Ireland and is a unique subspecies of a group of hares known as Mountain hares (Lepus timidus).

Like all hares, the Irish hares do not use burrows like their rabbit cousins. Instead they rely on cover of tall vegetation such as rushes, tall grass and heather. Often they will make a form in this tall vegetation. A form is like a nest on the ground, and it provides protection from wind and rain, as well as a place to hide.

Hares are most active early in the morning, or late in the evening and at night. They feed on a wide range of plants, such as grasses, sedges and heather. They will also browse on trees and shrubs like birch and swallow particularly in the winter months.

The young are called leveret. The mother hare will leave the young leverets in thick cover and only visit them once a night to feed them.



A week of so later and already he looks a bit bigger.





Guess How Much I Love You – one of my favourite children’s books by Sam McBratney.

There are lots of lovely activities here.


Colouring Sheets

Guess How Much I love You

Hare and the Tortoise



No Sew Sock Bunny


For more information

Irish Hare


I recently watched a BBC Wildlife Documentary which has prompted me to do a post on giraffes. Did you know that giraffe populations have declined by over 40 % in the last few decades. This is worrying news for these iconic mammals.


Giraffe at Dublin zoo

Giraffes facts

  • Giraffes are the world’s tallest mammal
  • Recent research suggests that there are actually four distinct giraffe species
  • Giraffes have seven vertebrae in their necks, exactly the same number as humans
  • Giraffes tongues are 45-50cm long
  • Giraffes can run at 60 km/hr
  • They will use their long legs to kick if threaten by predators
  • Individual giraffes can be told apart by the patterns of their markings, which are all different



Giraffe, by B, age 6




For some fun crafts and guides for helping you draw giraffes check out this link



Children’s Books

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae (click here Interactive reading version)

The story of long-legged Gerald the giraffe, who’s legs just don’t do  what he wants them to do when it comes to dancing, until that is, he finds his own special music. Heart warming story perfect for younger reader.



Spring and summer are a great time of year to get outside looking for bumblebees.

Queen bumblebees spend the winter asleep in little burrows. In the spring, she emerges and starts to look for food to build up her reserves from a winter of not eating! Once she is ready she starts looking for a nesting site. This could be in some long grass, a hedgerow bank or even an old mouse hole. Once she is happy with her chosen site she starts to collect pollen which she makes into a “Bee Bread” by mixing it with nectar. She lays some eggs in her nest and once the little grubs hatch they feed on the bee bread.

Once the grubs are big enough they will pupate (just like a caterpillar) and soon new worker bees will emerge. The queen now stays in nest laying eggs, while the workers do all the work of collecting the pollen and looking after the young.

In early summer, it is often the workers you see feeding on flowers. Sometimes you will see a queen. These tend to be much bigger.

Look out for the full pollen baskets on the back legs of the bees. The one below is very full!


Later in the summer new males and queens will emerge from the nests. They will mate. The new queens will feed and build up their reserves before they hibernate and start the whole cycle all over again.



LIFECYCLE_pupil worsheet


Bumblebeekids by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust has some great activity sheets for a range of age groups.


Bee Scene – a great activity for older children developed by Wildaboutplants.org


What are Lichens? Lichens are made up of two things.  Firstly a fungus and secondly an algae or cyanobacteria. The relationship the organisms have is called symbiosis.  In other words, they help each other, a type of partnership. Fungi can’t photosynthesize, that is, make their own food from sunlight but the algae or cyanobacteria can. The fungus is the dominant partner in the relationship and gives the lichens it’s form and structure. And collects water. Lichens can be found growing in all kinds of harsh climates where other organism would not survive (e.g. desserts and the Arctic).

Lichens on rock


On the photo above see if you can spot three different lichens?

Lichens come in all shapes and sizes and can be found growing on rocks, trees, deadwood, and on the ground.


For more information 

Kids Britannia here.

Mosses, ferns and Lichens (Wildlife Trust UK)


Monday Fun Fact

Did you know –

A bumblebee can travel up to 6km daily to visit flowers – this is the equivalent of a person walking around the globe 10 times to get to the shops!

So why not consider growing some bee friendly flowers in your garden this year, to help these exquisite bees find enough energy to complete these amazing journeys!

Bumblebee on dandelion

Bumblebee on dandelion

For more information on bumblebees and some great activities check out the following link: