Floods receding -We can read the roadsign

 Flood waters are receding around Kilteevan. The camera lense can now read the roadsigns on the double!

Locals are still inconvenienced and are using tractors or jeeps or taking alternative routes to travel. January 2016 will be remembered.


What is that? Amazing Biodiversity in Kilteevan

A payback for walking in Kilteevan in wet weather is the fact that you can see extraordinary things in our environment and you can learn something new almost every day. Just open your eyes!  One of the aims of our website is to share paperless information on our rich biodiversity and environment.  We hope you enjoy learning with us in this way.

 Here are three recent finds 

 Wood Ear /Tree Ear Fungus      Auricularia polytricha

 This amazing reddish brown, rubbery, ear shaped or ear like cup-shaped fungus was spotted in Cloonmore on 5th January 2016. The fungus can be found throughout the year in temperate regions worldwide, where it grows upon both dead and living wood particularly elder.

it is sometimes called Judas/Jew ear. This name  is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree. The common name today seems to be Wood ear, Tree ear, or Jelly ear.

 The importance of this fungus in the Ecosystem

This is one of the many fungus species that live on decaying wood. It and other such fungi play an incredibly important role in breaking down the tough materials in wood and returning those nutrients to the soil.

Most fungi are decomposers, which makes them essential recyclers. They break down dead tissues and return essential nutrients back into ecosystems.

 White Brain Fungus Exidia thuretiana

 This white jelly like gem was spotted near Grove on 8th January 2016.  This was a real case of …..”what on earth is that? And it took some time to confirm identification. Well, we think it is White brain fungus .  You really need wet weather to find this fungus…… hence this interesting find.  During dry spells it shrivels up almost completely and forms a thin brownish membrane that is easily overlooked.

White Brain fungus Exidia thuertiana occurs throughout Britain and Ireland but is described as a rather an uncommon find so our very wet weather provided a new experience. This jelly fungus can be seen also in many countries on mainland Europe and in northern Africa.

Birch polypore           Piptoporus betulinus,  also commonly known as the birch bracketor razor strop fungus photographed today January 18th  in Cloonmore.

As the name suggests, grows almost exclusively on birch trees. The brackets burst out from the bark of the tree, and these fruiting bodies can last for more than a year. . The velvety cut surface of the fruiting body was traditionally used as a strop for finishing the finest of edges on razors. It is also used as a knife sharpener especially by those who couldn’t afford leather.  It is also said to have medicinal properties. The fungus can harbour a large number of species of insects that depend on it for food and as breeding sites.

Remember you can share images of your finds with us on




For the Record

Signpost at the top of image reads Clooneigh/Cloonlarge Annaghmore  

In this section of our website our aim is to keep you updated on our heritage both natural and built. Our natural heritage and environment is constantly changing therefore we feel it is important to record our local observations for the future.

December 2015 in Ireland was one of the mildest on record in most areas and the wettest on record in parts of the West, South and Midlands, with many people experiencing the dreadful heart breaking trauma of losing their homes through flooding. Our hearts go out to them.  Thankfully, as far as we are aware, homes in Kilteevan were not flooded during this episode .

However, according to locals in their 90’s, living in the parish, Kilteevan has experienced the worst flooding in living memory. Roads have been closed in Carrowmore, Clooncagh, Cloonmore, Annaghmore, Clooneskert and Cloneigh. While we were accustomed to flooding in these areas in the past, the depth and extent of flooding in December 2015 and January 2016 appears to have broken all records. You can see in our images that new rivers and lakes have appeared and sadly we have lost some trees.

Cloontimullen, Kilteevan 2016


Clooneigh Kilteevan 


Derrinturk Kilteevan

Clooneigh, Kilteevan 2016

According to Met Eireann, warm and moist tropical air masses brought this very mild, wet and stormy weather over Ireland. The widespread flooding in some parts of the country was exacerbated by already saturated ground following above normal rainfall in November 2015

A pattern of continuous troughs and ridges across the North Atlantic and over Ireland giving us a mild predominantly south to south-westerly airflow last December.  This resulted in a prolonged spell of very mild and very wet weather during which record temperatures and rainfall amounts occurred.

It is very difficult at this point in time to determine the exact causes of the recent extreme weather. Some studies suggest that the El Nino event in the Pacific is responsible for the mild wet spell. Climate Change models suggest that rising temperatures are leading to an increase in the water carrying capacity of the atmosphere.

Assessment and research over future decades will enlighten us as about positive identification of the causes. 

We want to put on record the fact that we have experienced great change.

Flood waters are now receding and snow is promised.  

EF.14th January 2016



Spectacular sunrise and mists marking Nollaig na mban 2016.


Sunrise in Kilteevan and over Sliabh Bán was a spectacular and welcome sight this morning after many dull, dark and rainy days.

Nollaig na mBan—translated from Irish as "Women's Christmas” is more commonly known as "Little Christmas or the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) marks the end of the 12 Days of Christmas.

On this day, tradition in Ireland is for the women to get together and enjoy their own Christmas.  Although the tradition of Nollaig na mBan is slowly dying out in many parts of Ireland , the tradition is still strong along the South West coast.



What plant might be interesting in January in Kilteevan?


David, a member of our Tidy Towns Committee brought this tree to our attention.

He had spotted it while walking in Kilteevan . It is in the Doogarymore area but not in the forest. It was standing tall, a single somewhat different specimen. He wondered about its identification. The opposite branch formation is quite noticeable.

So we photographed it, tried to identify it but could not be sure. We contacted David Fallon an Ecologist in Roscommon to see if he could help us. David has kindly assisted is and in his opinion it is a Sitka Spruce. Our sincere thanks to David Fallon for pointing us in the right direction.

 So we set about doing our homework and this is what we have learned as a result of our research on Sitka Spuce.

 Keep in mind that this is our own desk top research and we have no qualifications in this field. We are simply raising awareness around natural heritage, biodiversity, learning about our rich environment and supporting our Tidy Towns Plan.

Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is a large coniferous evergreen tree. It is the largest species of Spruce and the fifth largest conifer.


The natural home of Sitka spruce is a narrow belt of the Pacific north west coast of North America.

It grows along this coast from Alaska in the north down through British Columbia, Washington and Oregon to California.

Sitka spruce was introduced to Ireland in 1835 as a specimen tree at Curraghmore, Co Waterford. The tree had reached a height of 32 m by the late 19th century, and 55 m by the late 1990s.

Sitka Spruce is a popular and widely planted forestry tree and is now naturalised in some parts of Ireland. Sitka spruce grows well in Ireland because it is suited to our soils and climate


In its native area Sitka Spruce can to live for over 700 years. 


Sitka commonly grows up to 70 metres tall and 2 metres across when mature.

The tallest Sitka recorded is Ireland would appears to be 55 metres in height and 5 metres wide.

The largest known Sitka spruce record is 93 metres tall and 5 metres across though this is difficult to verify.


A young tree in a proper setting can grow 1.5 metres a year .


It flowers in May. Both male and female flowers are found on the same tree. Male flowers are egg shaped, blunt and pale yellow. Female flowers are red, upright and oval, often crowded toward the top of the tree.


Sitka spruce is wind pollinated and regenerates naturally.


Are 2–3cm, slender grow straight out flat, are sharply pointed, hard and stiff, light green to bluish-green. From a distance the foliage appears blue-grey.


The cones (5–8cm) are distinctive, cylindrical, pale green in summer but ripening into nearly white, pale creamy-brown cones; each one of the thin, papery scales has a crinkly, toothed edge. The seeds are small and winged.They ripen in September and are dispersed naturally from October to spring.

Environmental benefits

Sitka spruce has an important role to play in Carbon Sequestration.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen.

Wood Uses

Sitka spruce is valued for its wood, which is light, soft, and relatively strong and flexible. It is used for general construction, ship building and plywood.

The pale timber is generally traded as white deal. Sitka spruce timber is relatively light in weight but has good strength properties. It was used as the prime source of wood for American, British and French aeroplanes in World Wars I and II.

Sitka makes Music

As the Stika wood has notch free rings it is an excellent conductor of sound.

Because of its acoustic properties it is used to make sounding boards in pianos and other musical instruments such as violins and guitars.

Thanks to David for pointing out the tree . There is no doubt every day is a school day!



December Plant of the Month; Holly


Plant of the Month Holly

Holly is our plant for December

Common Name:


Scientific Name:

Ilex aquifolium

Irish Name:


Family Group:


 Holly is one of our few native, evergreen shrubs. The attractive combination of the bright red berries and waxy, dark green leaves of the holly tree are a familiar sight in Kilteevan’s winter hedgerows. Holly is shade-tolerant and grows naturally and well in Kilteevan.

The association between holly and Christmas is now inescapable. It has been used as a Christmas decoration for many generations but it is very important in our hedgerows for many other reasons.

Native Holly trees are either male or female- Both sexes bear small creamy white, four-petalled flowers (6-10mm) in clusters from May to July.  Only the female can bear berries.

The Holly flower

People don’t often notice the pretty Holly flower. Below an image taken in Kilteevan in summertime.

Holly: a valuable source of food and shelter and biodiversity

The familiar bright scarlet berries which appear in late Autumn is a popular food source for many birds as the colder weather sets in. Thrushes in particular throng to fruiting holly trees in early winter and can strip the berries in no time once a tree has been discovered.

Birds favour the protection offered by the dense foliage of a holly tree when they come to build their nests in spring. Blackbirds in particular seem to be drawn to holly when choosing a nest site.

The Holly Blue, a delightful little butterfly, relies on Holly as a food plant for its caterpillars. In spring this tiny blue butterfly lays its eggs on the flowers of the holly tree, on which the caterpillars feed.

Holly also provides refuge for wildlife throughout the year. As it is evergreen the prickly foliage provides shelter for birds and animals right through the winter. Fallen leaves gather underneath holly trees, and because of their hardy nature they take years to rot , providing a plentiful supply of protective nesting material for mammals such as hedgehogs – the prickly leaves are enough to dissuade many would be predators.

Mythology and Modern Science

In European mythology holly was associated with thunder gods such as 1st   century Thor, Norse God of thunder.   Holly trees were traditionally seen as protection from lightning strikes and so were planted near houses.

Now science tells us that the spines on Holly leaves may act as miniature lightning conductors!

Its prickly, evergreen leaves and its long-lasting berries were the source of much superstition in years gone by.  People used to associate the tree with eternity and the power to ward off evil .Doors and windows were decorated with holly to ward off evil spirits.

Holly Wood-Did you know?

Holly wood is white, hard and dense and is often used for carving and inlay work.

It has been stained black and used as a substitute for ebony in piano making it is used for the white pieces in the game of chess. Mathematical instruments, knife handles and coffins were all once made of holly.

Happy Christmas  and please notice and enjoy our Holly trees as you walk and cycle around Kilteevan. Watch out for the flowers from May to July 2016.

 We hope this section of our website will have exciting obsevations to note and report through 2016.

Wishing you Happy Nature Filled New Year .


Spring before Winter ?


It’s December 16th 2015, 3.15 pm. Temperature is 13 degrees centigrade and look what’s above ground in Kilteevan today!

Is this climate change or confusion of the seasons?

I wonder what Wordsworth would have to say?



Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

It great to see neighbouring parishes interest taking an interest in and contributing  information to this Biodiversity Section of our website. While its not seasonal, we like to share information as we receive it. 

These photos of Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar were taken by Richard in Mount Plunkett Lecarrow in August. Amazing images!

No more than the Goat Moth caterpillar, (which we have already posted), the Hawk Moth caterpillar, is a sight to behold if you are lucky enough to spot it.

So here is the result of our basic research on the Elephant Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Scientific: Name Deilephila elpenor

Family: Sphingidae

Distribution :Widespread and commonIreland England, Wales, southern and western Scotland and beyond. 

Habitat: Gardens, waste ground and woodland clearings.

The preferred food plants of the caterpillar are Willowherb(already posted) and Bedstraw which we know are abundant in Kilteevan. The caterpillars can generally be seen from July to September, when they pupate.

The caterpillars can be green but are more frequently brown with a net or snake like pattern along the body as well as the four large 'eye' like patches at the head end. They have a backward curving spine or "horn" on the final abdominal segment.

The caterpillars has a trunk-like section just behind the head, hence the name “Elephant.”  This trunk like section can be extended or retracted as a defensive tactic.

When threatened this section is drawn in towards its body. This shields the head from danger and has the added advantage of inflating its body, making the four eye markings look much larger.

Caterpillars are preyed upon by birds, but can shy away from caterpillars "snake"like posturing.

When fully grown the caterpillar moves down to the ground to pupate.  It remains in this state until the following spring when it emerges as an adult moth.


The Elephant Hawk moth is spectacularly coloured, seeming to shimmer with green and red when in motion.  It has a wingspan of approximately 70mm.

To the inexperienced eye it looks like "pink butterfly"

The imago (adult) feeds at night, and often takes and often takes nectar from plants like honeysuckles and petunias. 

The life span of the adult moth is up to 5 weeks and they are generally seen from May to July.

This species possesses good night or scotopic vision  and can discriminate colours very well.  Adult moths are eaten by some species of bats.


Biodiversity in Kilteevan

We are delighted to note that interest in this section of our website is growing.

Our magnificant pheasants are being admired these days and a deer has been spotted in the woodlands near Grove.

So have the camera ready and send us the photos to

Keep those reports coming in. 



Our plant this month is Spindle, Euonymus europaeus, Feoras.

Flowering May- June. Fruiting September- November.

Spindle is a decidious native shrub or small tree, a species of flowering plant in the family Celastraceae. A plain shrub that comes alive with unbelievable colours in Autumn.

It appears in roadside hedges occasionally usually in relatively old and botanically diverse hedges. We are lucky in Kilteevan. to have old diverse hedges. There is lots of Spindle to be found.

The flowers are small greenish yellow, hardly visible, but the fruit from the tiny flowers are very noticeable. The fruit is green through summer gradually developing to dull, four cornered, pink-red fruits.

The fruits are carried in clusters dangling from flowers stems. Over a period of a few weeks the red fruits spilt, creating their own fireworks, revealing bright orange seeds .   The orange and crimson contrast is very eye-catching but beware Spindle is toxic if ingested.

Spindle is one of the few trees to get its name from one of its traditional uses.

The name harks back to a time when the plants dense white wood was used for making wool spinning spindles as well as knitting needles. It was also used for the bars in bird cages in times when wire was not available or affordable.  

In more recent times Spindle wood is used in the production of skewers and toothpicks as it can be cut to a sharp point without breaking.

Be alert for Spindle and admire its beauty as you ramble The Groves of Kilteevan.  Our photo taken by an amateur photographer in Kilteevan.

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This project received grant aid from Roscommon LEADER Partnership Rural Development Programme which is financed by the Irish Government under the Rural Development Programme Ireland 2007-2013 and by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in Rural Areas.sponsors