Growing Wild

Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc countryside management specialist


Look out for lichens, which are clearly visible in peatlands while other vegetation has died back during winter. There are hundreds of lichen species growing on trees, walls and soil. A very rare one called Scrambled-egg Lichen and some Cladonia lichen or Reindeer moss are protected. Lichen comprises of a fungus and one or more algae in a mutually beneficial partnership.

The fungus provides structure for the algae as well as protection from extremes of light and temperature. Algae can photosynthesise, making sugars providing the fungus with energy. Some lichens, which are sensitive to air pollution, are environmental indicators. Valued for their medicinal value and their use in dying, lichen are part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Rural rhymes

St Brigid’s Day, written by Paddy Egan, published in his book Rambles in Kilcommock, Vol 8

Last week in January, days getting longer

Heat from the sun getting stronger and stronger

Daffodils and snowdrops began to peep

Awakening from their winter sleep

We’re looking forward to St Brigid’s Day

A sign that spring is on the way

Wildlife busy in land and air

Nature’s active everywhere

From newborn lambs, hear their bleat

They seek their mothers for a welcome teat

A pleasing sign on a fine spring day

To watch young lambs frisk and play

Cattle lowing in their slatted shed

They chew the cud when silage fed

They’re cosy yes, of that no doubt

But they’d prefer the fields to run about

Crows are cawing to call a mate

They’ll begin to build at a later date

Water birds are on the move

While a pigeon coos to a turtle dove

The wily fox is on the prowl

In search of a newborn lamb or fowl

He must find the extra grub

To feed his newborn clutch of cubs

The gardener resumes a lifelong trade

He’s back at work with grape and spade

He looks forward to an early spring

And lives in hope of what fruits will bring.

Consumer tip

Irish Rail has launched a contactless e-ticket system which is a significant move towards enhancing passenger convenience and modernizing its services. You can now book your tickets online or through the Irish Rail app and receive a QR barcode via email. This is for all passengers travelling on intercity routes, with the exception of the Belfast line.

Additionally, passengers can download their QR code ticket in PDF format to their mobile device or print it at home. This barcode can be easily scanned at barriers, eliminating the need for printed tickets.

Check out

Meet the Maker

Eamon Heffernan.

In this week’s Meet the Maker, Grace Hanna speaks with Wicklow-based bog oak artist Eamonn Heffernan, who works out of his studio in the Glen of Imaal in Wicklow. Eamonn's work can be found at

Quote of the week

This isn’t about a woman being put in a position for gender balance. The IFA is a grassroots organisation and the election reflected the voice of the members. I have seen nothing but positivity so far, so I hope my appointment paves the way for other women to rise through the levels.

IFA deputy president, Alice Doyle

Number of the week

2,272 the number of women doing apprenticeship in Ireland in 2023 versus less than 30 in 2016.

Picture of the week

A regular reader of the the Journal in Co Tipperary. \ Submitted by Toby O’Heney

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Welcome to a week in the country

Welcome to a week in the country