Growing Wild

With Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist

Lesser Celandine

Look out for occasional bright shiny yellow flowers of lesser celandine, already making an appearance on roadside margins, which have been left to grow wild naturally.

At first glance, it can be mistaken for buttercups but has eight to nine petals compared to five. The heart shaped leaves on hollow stems grow early to avoid being shaded out by grasses and other vegetation. Expected lower temperatures may delay the very obvious display of golden starflowers, but they will come in early spring. The leaves and flowers will then vanish, with the plant remaining below ground for most of the year in fig-like tubers. Lesser celandine is part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Letter to the editor

Dear Editor,

Reading Maureen Boyle’s beautiful memoir in Irish Country Living on 6 January 2024, brought back memories of growing up in a little rural parish in Co Carlow during the 1960s.

Our house, like many of the time, was a ‘rambling house.’

Almost every evening during winter someone would ramble in, sit at the open fire in the kitchen and have the chats. At the kitchen table doing my homework by the light of a oil lamp, it was often difficult to concentrate. But looking back, I think I learned just as much by listening to snatches of the conversations than from the books.

Each rambler brought their own unique touch to the evening. They were masters in the art of conversation. Many debates took place. They each had their own outlook on life. With the coming of television into all our homes, things changed.

‘Rambling’ into each other’s houses became part of the past.

I don’t think children could ever learn with as much enjoyment from television as we did from the people who sat around our firesides. I remember those evenings with great fondness and I wrote this little poem in memory of those special people who were part of my childhood.

Sometimes my memory goes back in time

To our little old homestead

Come eventide

Then the ramblers would lift the latch on the door

There would be music and chat and singing galore.

The kettle would boil and the tea would be made

And then a game of cards would be played

The winnings were small

But the game it was strict

And nobody spoke while counting the tricks.

I can see them all still

People gentle and kind

Who would do you no wrong

And help in hard times.

They have all gone to that land in the sky

Where we will all meet in the great by and by

And I have no doubt there will be music and chat

All together again

And having the craic.

By Marian Dalton

Picture of the week

In her element: Frasachd Bhuidhe, owned by Andrew Agnew of White Mountain Farm in Smarmore, Ardee, is enjoying the break from the rain and happier with the colder mornings. This pedigree Highland Cow comes from the oldest fold in the world. \ Submitted by Andrew Agnew

Quote of the week

Colour blindness generally affects men. One in 12 are colour blind [compared to] one in 200 women, but in 30 years practising as an optometrist, I haven’t come across one woman who has the condition. Linda McGivney Nolan is optometric advisor to Optometry Ireland.

Number of the week

€1,936: Older adults who may have additional health issues are the cohort of customers least likely to change plans.

However, one retired couple can save €1,936 and get better benefits by switching policies.

Consumer tip

Childminding Ireland has launched its annual survey in advance of the introduction of childminding regulations expected in in autumn 2024.

If you are getting paid to mind a child or children in your own home, who are not related to you, these new regulations will impact you.

Childminding regulations are currently in draft and will be finalised in the coming months.

Childminding Ireland is calling on all childminders throughout Ireland to complete its annual survey and are urging them to share their experiences. The information gathered will ensure politicians are informed before making decisions. These decisions will impact on how childminding operates on a daily basis, in family homes, for decades to come.

The survey takes six minutes to complete and can be accessed online at the Childminding Ireland website (

The Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth (DCEDIY) will be hosting a consultation process in the coming months on the draft regulations for childminding.

Online pick of the week

Niamh McCarthy.

Grace Hanna speaks with Niamh McCarthy from Niamh Designs Embroidery. Niamh specialises in hand-crafted bridal jackets.

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Welcome to a week in the country

Welcome to a week in the country