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Repot your Shamrock and watch it grow!

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By Debby Looney, gardening expert

Seamair óg, or Shamrock, must surely be our featured plant this week.

Until last year, I had never taken much notice of Shamrock as a plant, however, in a fit of curiosity I bought little live Shamrock plants in a number of outlets to see what they would actually grow into.

We all know the religious story behind St Patrick and the little three leaved plant, but I was curious to know whether there is one specific plant which equates to Shamrock. After doing some research, I have concluded that it could have been any of a number of different plants which St Patrick held in his hand. The word Shamrock derives from the Irish ‘seamair' meaning clover, and ‘óg' meaning young. The most common clovers in this country would be white clover, Trifolium repens, and meadow trefoil, or Trifolium dubium. However, red clover, or Trifolium pratense, is also a contender! One of the oldest herbal books, Gerard's Herbal, published in 1597 identified Irish Shamrock to be meadow trefoil, while the Irish botanist, Caleb Threlkeld, identified it as white field clover in 1726.

MEADOW PLANTING

Whichever one St Patrick might have used, it is clear to me that the growers of Shamrock are still not in agreement which it was either! Out of 10 plants I bought last year, I have three meadow trefoil, which are the prettiest green, and flower yellow. These are ideal for meadow planting as insects love them. I have one red clover which grows to a height of 30cm and is ideal in ditches and wild areas. I have one Persian clover, a slightly soft, tall, hairy plant with carmine coloured flowers. This is often included in wildflower mixtures as it is pretty and has a long flowering season. It is the least hardy of these clovers. I ended up with two oxalis which are wood sorrel, and finally three white clover. White clover is an ideal companion plant to lawn grass and I would encourage anyone setting lawn seed to include it in their seed mix. White clover stays low and can be mown along with the grass. It has white flowers, which are a rich source of nectar. It is not particularly invasive, and will not take over the lawn. It does however benefit your grass greatly by ‘setting' nitrogen, thus making nitrogen available to the grass, making it richer, stronger and greener. This also means you do not need to fertilise your lawn as much.

So, if you have bought a pot of Shamrock, be sure to repot it and let it grow a little, then find it a nice spot in your garden, because, regardless of its historical accuracy, all Shamrock has great merit!

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Kerry rowing clubs flock to Killarney for the start of the coastal season

There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the […]

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There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the Lake’ time-trial for coastal one-design boats.

The event, hosted by the local Flesk Valley Rowing Club, signalled the start of the summer season for clubs rowing the coastal ‘one-design’ boats.

It was fitting that on the weekend that the Killarney National Park celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House to the public, that hundreds of people also flocked to the Flesk Valley shore to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of the park.

Speaking after the event, Flesk Valley chairman, John Fleming thanked all the Kerry clubs who supported this new event and congratulated all the first-time rowers taking to the water in a competitive event for the first time.
“We were delighted to welcome our neighbouring clubs Workmens’ and Fossa, and look forward to renewing rivalries with them again at the Killarney Regatta at the end of this month,” he said.

“We would also like to thank Mary B. Teahan, Andrew Wharton, Johanna King and the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association for all their support and encouragement, and Denis O’Leary for coordinating safety on the water.”
Flesk Valley would also like to thank the Killarney National Park, Leanes Tool Hire, Hegartys Shop and Muckross Rowing Club for their support.

“This was a great start to the coastal rowing season, and augurs well for the months ahead as clubs build towards the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships to be held in Dingle at the end of August,” added the chairman.

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NPWS announces nature scholarships to mark ‘Muckross 60’

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of […]

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Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House and Gardens to the public. The scholarships will be funded and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Niall O Donnchú said, “Killarney and Muckross have a very special place in Ireland’s heritage legacy, and  such beautiful gems need constant care, nurturing and indeed protecting by future generations. In supporting these third level scholarships, the NPWS is building the knowledge base of the future to assist those generations in continuing to realise the full beauty and nature value of the very unique Muckross House and Gardens and Killarney National Park.”

Mr O Donnchú added: “Killarney has a long history of scholarship, research and frontier work on nature and that continues to this day in the management of Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens. The endowment of these annual scholarships is a very clear attestation that this crucial work continues to be undertaken across our national park system and especially here in Killarney and Muckross. This work has been pioneering in respect of wildlife and nature research and indeed the reintroduction of endangered species and the discovery, even this year, of more.”

Minister for Education and Kerry T.D. Norma Foley also welcomed new scholarships to mark the 60th anniversary of Muckross House.

“Muckross House is one of the jewels in the crown of Kerry tourism and received almost one million visitors last year. These scholarships will further add to our understanding of this outstanding part of our national heritage,” she said.

Muckross House was built by the Herbert family, who were local landlords. They became very wealthy during the 18th century due to the working of the copper mines on the Muckross Peninsula. They commenced the building of the present Muckross House in 1839. It was completed in 1843 at cost of £30,000, just two years prior to the Great Irish Famine. The Herbert family hosted the visit of Queen Victoria to Muckross House in 1861 but later got into financial difficulties and lost the house in 1897.

It was then bought by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family. He in turn sold it in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian gold miner. Bowers Bourn gave it to his daughter Maud as a wedding gift when she married Arthur Rose Vincent, an Irish barrister who later became a Senator.

After Maude died from pneumonia in 1929, Arthur Rose Vincent decided to donate Muckross house to the Irish nation as a memorial to his wife. Muckross House was transferred to the state in 1932 with its 11,000 acre estate and became Ireland’s first National Park in 1933.

The park and gardens were opened to the public but the house remained closed until 1964 when it was reopened as a folk museum on June 14, 1964 following a campaign by people in Killarney.

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