Jul 102009
 

Ireland's Wildlife Facebook page, onlne Irish wildlife and nature resource If you’re on Facebook, check out my new page on Ireland’s Wildlife – and pass it on to all your friends. The page, and the twitter account on @wildireland, are the first steps in building an online community of wildlife enthusiasts in Ireland.

As time (and budget) allows I’m also working on an Ireland’s Wildlife website, sort of an online “hub” for all things wild in Ireland – a jumping off point, if you like, for Irish wildlife information, resources, links and discussion.

Wanted: wildlife content!

Core to the site will be the 200 or so species profiles I’ve written for the back page of Ireland’s Own over the years. I’m also on the look-out for potential regular contributors to the new site – so if you have relevant interests or expertise in any aspect of Irish wildlife and would like to volunteer your services / allow use of your content then please leave a note in the comments below, or drop me a line.

You can stay tuned here for updates by subscribing to the RSS Feed, become a fan of Ireland’s Wildlife on Facebook and/or follow Ireland’s Wildlife on Twitter.

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Jul 092009
 
Nathusius' pipistrelle bat (Pipistrellus nathu...

Image via Wikipedia

I was sitting watching telly the other night when a movement outside the window caught my eye. I took a closer look, but couldn’t see anything, so turned my attention back to the television.

There it was again. This time I looked for a bit longer, and sure enough I saw a tiny creature emerge from the eaves of the house, silhouetted briefly against the darkening sky.

The bats were back.

Irish bats hibernate through the winter, and stir into life again the following spring. In summer the expectant females set up maternity roosts in old buildings, attic spaces, under bridges and other suitable locations, where they give birth to and rear their young. Despite their small size the bats I was watching were adults, leaving the roost to feed on nocturnal insects.

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Jun 232009
 
Walrus at Kamogawa Seaworld, Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Just got an e-mail from Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group re. a possible walrus sighting of Co. Wicklow, Ireland.

At 19:30 this evening Tues. 23rd June, we received a call from a Johnny Byrne informing us that at 15:00 he had seen earlier what he believed to be a walrus off Maherabeg, heading north from Magherabeg beach, 50 yards off the rocks, towards Magheramor beach in Co. Wicklow.

Padraig, who is the sighting’s coordinator with the IWDG said he spoke to Johnny at length, and while he’s convinced the sighting is something unusual they can’t confirm a walrus just yet.

The IWDG has informed National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Irish Seal Sanctuary, as the animal could turn out to be another vagrant pinniped like a hooded or bearded seal, which have also been recorded in Irish waters.

There have been confirmed sightings of walruses in Irish waters before, with most sightings, perhaps unsurprisingly, coming from off the northwest coast.

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May 062009
 

I woke up this morning to find this monstrosity cable-tied to the telegraph pole outside our front gate:

Now, while I’m sure there’s a large portion of the Irish electorate who’d love to see the heads of certain Irish politician’s on a pole, I don’t think this is quite what they had in mind!

I’m sure Cllr. Adrian Healy is a lovely man… but do I really want to look at him every morning while waiting to deposit the munchkins on the school bus? I don’t think so! Incidentally, this poster wasn’t up when I went to bed past midnight last night (I know, because I had to pop out to the car for something), it was surreptitiously positioned in the dead of night by the election poster wraiths.

These ethereal creatures of the darkness are mercifully scarce, but the population explodes rapidly  pre-election, and left unchecked can quickly reach plague proportions. Sneaker than a malevolent super-sleuth, they could certainly teach the CIA or MI6 a thing or two about moving around undetected. They’re practically invisible: we only know they exist at all because of the conspicuous trail of unflattering mugshots they leave in their wake to torture the general population.

Stop polluting our countryside with poster politics and start tackling the issues!

POLITICIANS: you’re not that pretty!

Stop trying to win our votes with banal posters and start tackling the issues — show us what you believe in, what you stand for, and what you’re going to do for our community if you want our votes.

All these posters do is sully the view, generally annoy the electorate and add to Ireland’s growing waste mountain.

See some sense… please!

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Apr 142009
 
Richie the donkey

Richie the donkey

Richie was born on the 15th of January 2007. On the 25th of January his mother died of blood poisoning, leaving the little fellow orphaned and alone at just 10 days old! He needed round-the-clock care, and had to be bottle fed with milk-substitute for several weeks, but he responded well, and soon started feeding from a bucket on his own.

That’s right, a bucket! Richie is a donkey: one of the residents at The Donkey Sanctuary, in Lisscarrol, near Mallow, Co. Cork, and like most of his companions at the centre he’s completely and utterly adorable. He’s young and inquisitive, with a “fluffy” brown and white coat that simply cries out for a rub, and like most donkeys he’s stubbornly single minded to the point of obstinance. They say you can command a horse, but you have to persuade and cajole a donkey. It’s part of what gives them their indisputable charm. Apart from  the “fluffy brown and white coat” bit he reminded me a lot of the girls

We loved him immediately, and while the other donkeys in the “adoption” group were also cute, and some had more distressing histories of neglect and hardship to endear them, when we met the gang “in person” Richie was an outright winner! For the princely sum of €20 per year we are now the proud “adopted” family of Richie the donkey. The adoption programme is a wonderful way to support the centre — which rescues mistreated, neglected and unwanted donkeys from all over Ireland, and relies entirely on donations from the public to fund its operation. It’s also a brilliant way for the children to connect and engage with both an individual donkey like Richie, and with the work the centre does for donkeys in Ireland as a whole.
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Apr 142009
 
Clouds of Fire v2 / Nubes de fuego v2
Image by Sergio_One via Flickr

Losing your job can be one of the most traumatic experiences in your working life. Conflicting waves of emotion race through you: anger, frustration, disbelief, acceptance… even relief. You relive things in your mind… was it something you did, or perhaps didn’t do? Could you have changed something that would have spared your job? Most of all there’s the uncertainty and doubt about what to do next… where will you turn, how will you pay the mortgage?

There’s no doubt that losing your job is an incredibly trying experience. I know… it’s happened to me twice in my career, and when you’re living through it it’s not fun. But looking back now, I have to say that on both occasions being made redundant was categorically the best thing that could have happened to me, spawning a new chapter in a career that’s been interesting, diverse and rewarding.

The last time, back in 2001, I was working as a project manager for a start-up technology company. Being suddenly made redundant led me to take the plunge into self employment as a freelance writer. Since then I have become a columnist, feature writer, marketing copywriter and, most recently, an internationally published author. My first book, “Understanding Digital Marketing“, co-authored with Damian Ryan, was release in January by publishers Kogan Page in Ireland, the UK and the USA. Things are looking exceedingly positive for 2009, there’s another book deal in the pipeline, and several other projects that will keep me busy well into next year and beyond.

And the catalyst to all of this was losing my job.

If you find yourself caught in the cross-fire as companies battle to survive the recession, try not to despair. Yes, on the one hand losing your job is a potentially devastating blow — but only if you allow it to be. The first, and perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it’s your role, rather than you as a person, that’s being made redundant. The fact that your position is no longer required by the organisation isn’t a reflection on your ability to do your job. Secondly, remember that, at the end of the day, the only thing you’ve lost is a job. Unlike your family, your friends or your health, your job is a disposable commodity that can be replaced, often by something better.

Top tips for coping with redundancy:

  • Take stock: redundancy gives you a great chance to re-assess your career, your life and what’s important to you. Look at it as a potential catalyst to bigger and better things; something to force you outside your comfort zone and prompt you to take action.
  • Talk to other people: talking to people you know who’ve been through the experience will help. You’ll be surprised by how many of them look back at their redundancy in a positive light.
  • Get what you can: many companies only offer the statutory redundancy packages they’re obliged to under Irish law. Don’t let that stop you from negotiating for more: the more you get the easier the transition between jobs will be. If you’re affiliated to a trade union, see if they have negotiated preferential redundancy rates for members.
  • Sign on immediately: this is important to maintain your PRSI contributions, and the money every week will help supplement your savings while you look for work.
  • Start job-hunting: finding a new job can take a while, so start looking immediately. Your employer is obliged to give you time off during your notice period to look for work.
  • Tighten the belt: cutting back on unnecessary spending and sticking to a strict budget while your income is suppressed will help reduce financial pressure.

Most of all, try to stay positive, and look at your redundancy as a stepping stone to the next stage of your varied and interesting career.

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Mar 192009
 
The Welsh Dragon
Image via Wikipedia

Granddad is ready to disown his granddaughters.

He loves them dearly, of course, but some things are enough to push even the most doting of grandparents over the edge. And one of those things, is rugby!

Next weekend is crunch time for Ireland’s national rugby squad. With four wins under their belt, on Saturday Declan Kidney’s men face reigning champions Wales in Cardiff in the deciding match of the RBS Six Nations 2009, hoping to claim not just the title, but their first Grand Slam since 1948. All that stands in their way is fifteen Welshmen and the legendary Cardiff crowd. And therein lies the rub; Wales in Cardiff is the Irish team’s toughest fixture of this year’s Six Nations campaign, and you can guarantee the Dragons will come out fighting.

If they’re on form the Welsh have the potential to turn the Irish dream into a red, white and green nightmare!

This is being billed as one of Ireland’s biggest rugby matches in recent memory, but the expectation transcends even that. Set against the backdrop of the country’s economic woes many are billing the resurrection of the nation’s rugby team under Declan Kidney as a beacon of light amidst the gloom: a sentinel of hope that could buoy the flagging spirits not just of rugby fans, but of a nation desperately in need of some good news.

But what has all that got to do with Granddad disowning the girls? Continue reading »

Nov 112008
 

GadgetRepublic.com, a new tech-review site, and sister-site to the excellent technology news site SiliconRepublic.com, launched yesterday and I have to say that it looks very promising.

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Gadget Republic is edited by award winning technology journalist Marie Boran of Siliconrepublic.com, so the standard of the reviews on the site, as you would expect, is very high. They’re well written, insightful and hit that elusive balance between personal opinion and technical expertise perfectly.

This is a great resource for anyone looking to keep abreast of what’s hot and what’s not on the tech-gadget front; if you’re anything like me you’ll be adding Gadget Republic to your feed reader pronto.

Congratulations to Marie and the team at SiliconRepublic.com on a job well done… I look forward to reading many a great review on the site.

Oct 252008
 

Had to write a quick post to announce the launch of a unique new wedding date site for couples in Ireland. I have an interest in wedding sites, mainly because we run our own photo wedding invitation business, and naturally we keep an eye on what’s happening online in the weddings space. (NB. I know our site is in dire need of a facelift – it’s on the To-do list).

Last week saw the launch of an exciting new website on the Irish wedding scene: Weddingdates.ie opened its virtual doors on Friday (24/10), and offers a unique facility that helps engaged couples in Ireland to select their ideal wedding venue.

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Simply enter your preferred wedding date and the county you want to get married in and Weddingdates.ie will return a list of venues in that county with reception availability on your date. It’s simple… and priceless. No more trudging through the golden pages and ringing around laboriously to come up with a shortlist of wedding reception venues who can accommodate you: Weddingdates.ie does it all for you.

This is very different to the swathe of run of the mill “Wedding directory” sites that simply list service providers. This is an indispensible tool for engaged couples.

When you’re planning a wedding anything that can reduce the time, effort and, lets face it, the stress involved is certain to be a huge boon. And that’s exactly what Weddingdates.ie offers.

If you’re getting married, or know someone else who is, why not head on over and take a look. If you’re a hotel manager, and your hotel isn’t featured, you might want to remedy that pronto!

The site is the brainchild of Ciara Crossan, who I had the pleasure of meeting briefly at a SOHO Solo / Cork Open Coffee joint meeting a few months back. Congratulations Ciara on a great concept, a great looking site and something that I’m sure will make life easier for countless Irish couples over the coming months and years.