Many, many thanks today to the team at Kilmovee for organising the excellent ‘walks and talks’ event, “A Celebration of Spring”.

This was a brilliantly assembled event full of interest and healthy exercise on a gorgeous Spring day which had arrived hot on the heels of a long, wet March and April – a welcome break.

We started in the ‘classroom’, the village’s Thatch Roof Building attached to the Village Centre with fascinating presentations by Liam Lysaght of the National Biodiversity Database on the need for that resource, by Chris Huxley on bird migration and by Lynda Huxley on the conservation of swifts, swallows, house martins and sand martins.

Our first walk was down to a woodland around 20 minutes south of Kilmovee which was pure joy in the sunshine ‘armed’ with our assemble experts in many ecological areas – birdsong, Summer migrant and other birds (we were quickly ‘shown’ willow warblers, swallows, blackcaps, mistle thrushes and chiffchaffs and even a buzzard came zooming through with a hooded crow in hot pursuit), butterflies and bees, plus botanists to point out wood sorrel, anenomes, greater stitchwort, pig-nut and the not-quite-ready bluebells.

There are some impressive ancient beeches in that wood too, which had us hankering for a local historian to tell us some of the past of this site.

We adjourned back to the thatched cottage for a superb lunch of soup, soda bread, sandwiches and biscuits plus, of course, tea and coffee.

Refreshed, we were back into the ‘classroom’ for a lovely, relaxing, post-prandial talk by local poet and writer, Terry McDonagh who is also an expert on local, famous, 1700s poet Anthony Raftery, blinded from age 10 by smallpox and the “last travelling bard” famous for his poems about Spring.

The final entertainment was a walk out to the local stone-built and excellently preserved ‘Cashel’ – a ring-wall 2m thick and 2.5m high on private land just outside the village. Delightfully, the village is currently host to a stone-mason training course with 8 or so lads all learning the ropes just beside the thatched building.

A 1000-year-old stone Cashel would be right up their street, so they were invited to join us as we got a look round the place and an excellent presentation by University Historian, Dr Yvonne McDermott (GMIT). Dr McDermott had done us a brilliant job but it was nice to receive some input at the Q+A from the lads coming at it from the actual builders’ point of view.

All together it made for a thoroughly enjoyable day and if anyone was thinking about going and then decided not to, you missed a real treat. There is talk of this possibly becoming an annual event – mark it in your diary. Thank you very, very much to the whole team at Kilmovee and to all the speakers and volunteers who made it all so good.

Kilmovee Celebration of Spring 21/04/2018

A review by Matt Care