Monday, 1 June 2020

Lockdown in Lovely Leitrim

Nature at its best in Leitrim

The good thing about social isolation is having time to do the things you fret about not doing in normal circumstances. So I have, on occasion, fretted about not cleaning out my cupboards or tidying my garden shed. I now have lots of time to do it but have decided I'd much rather spend time in the great outdoors in the company of nature. I've taken to the hills, forests and byways that I frequented with my parents and siblings as a child when we went looking for birds' nests, picking bluebells, listening to bird song, watching the clouds or just out and about on a farming task. On our 2km & 5km walk/hike from Tawnylust Lodge, we have encountered some magnificent creatures great and small during Spring and Summer. Here I share some of them with you. I also name the town-lands which are poetry in themselves. I worried about getting the names of some of the species wrong but decided that not knowing the name would not interfere with the enjoyment of their beauty!

Blue Speedwell wildflowers Tawnylust Lodge

 Speedwell Tawnyinshinagh

Peacock butterfly on a dandelion wild flower Leitrim

Peacock Butterfly Lisnagroagh

I love the tradition in Leitrim and other places of leaving Mayflowers on the doorstep and windowsill of neighbours' houses to ward off evil spirits and cheeky fairies on May eve. It was also done at byres to keep bad health away from the cattle. A lovely start to the festival of Bealtaine. We also had National Biodiversity Week in May that further encouraged me to take pics and record Leitrim's wonderful flora and fauna with Biodiversity Ireland's Bio Data Centre

biodiversity Leitrim Ireland
                                                                                                                 Mayflower, Lisnagroagh

Blackthorn tree Tawnylust Lodge

Blackthorn, Carrigeangeare

Biodiversity Leitrim Ireland


I used to take offence with the dandelions for appearing in my fairly well groomed garden. Now I see them as food for the bees and other wildlife and the perfect excuse to faff about with the camera and not bother to cut the grass! Well, if I have to go around with bushy hair and grey roots, why should the garden be perfect!

Starling in tree with blue sky Leitrim

Starling, Lisnagroagh

I watched this starling gather for days and build her nest in my neighbours eave at the house, I had never seen the iridescent feathers so clearly. She carried and carted for what must have been hundreds of trips to ensure a safe house was constructed for her brood. I heard the fledglings in the nest while she carried and carted again to a hungry bunch of babies and then teenagers. It was so lovely to see the little ones emerge and fly around. My gorgeous neighbour never complained about the 'toilet business' outside her back door but just wondered at the magnificence of nature!

Green field with farm house and buttercups
Buttercups and Forget-me-Nots, Lisnagroagh

This field of gold; buttercups at my childhood home, caught my eye one day. I had to pop out with the camera and get a pic. According to Tim Hurley writing for Nature Trail in the Sligo Champion, we have three types of buttercup in Ireland; the Bulbous Buttercup, Meadow Buttercup and the Creeping Buttercup.  Read Article Here

Butterflies (or as my friend's grandchild calls them flutterbys!) are very numerous this year. The good weather certainly has made them more visible and I have particularly noticed the orange tip. Only the male has the orange colour, the female is white.This one I spotted on a cuckoo flower or Blessed Virgin flower as we used to call it when we were kids and it was popular for our May altar.

Cuckoo flower with an orange tip butterfly Leitrim

  Cuckoo flower with orange tip butterfly, Lisnagroagh

I decided on a trip down memory lane so took off over the fields and lane ways to visit places that were hidden in my memory. Houses I visited as a child, fields I played in, trees I'd climbed. It was so lovely to see those places with the eyes of an adult and all the feelings that seeing them prompted. Below is a collage of the flora I encountered in the town lands of Loughafonta, Tawnyinshinagh, Tawnylust Upper, Tawnylust, Doagh and Lughawnagh

Nuala walking at Tawnylust Lodge Leitrim

Nuala traversing the hills at Tawnyinshinagh

Collage of flora and fauna pictures Leitrim
Bracket mushroom, Gorse, Fern, Bog Cotton, Blackthorn,
Herb Robert, Forget-me-Nots and Cinnabar Moth

Yellow Iris with green background Leitrim


On my travels a few hundred metres from home, I came across this derelict cottage, surrounded by native trees with the most wonderful views across the valley. I don't ever remember having been there before but I do remember the man John, who lived there. He worked in the shop at the local creamery, a couple of kilometres away at Mullawn. As a child I was mesmerized by the way, when you ordered sweets (money permitting) he weighed them and, very deftly, with a scoop filled them into a paper cone made with one hand. I do believe he gave myself and my friends a few extra but it was never acknowledged. I don't think the mixed sweets were wrapped. The brown paper, if not too sticky was probably reused for something at home. Sustainability at its best.

derelict cottage surrounded by trees Leitrim

Cottage at Tawnyinshinagh

I have always been fascinated with the white Ermine moth and two of them decided to visit in the last few days, resting around the house during the day. I love their colouring and have always dreamt of having a dress designed around their colour and texture. Who knows, I just might meet the right dress maker in 2020!

White Ermine moth Leitrim

White Ermine

The usually wet uplands are quite dry at the moment so it's great to be able to walk across them and see the flora and fauna. On Saturday's walk I saw lots of day flying moths and the wild flowers below

Blue heath milk wort flower growing in Leitrim

         Heath Milkwort

Tormentil wild flower Leitrim


I hope you have enjoyed this little meander in nature in Leitrim, I certainly did and I'd like to leave you with these words of wisdom:

Till the time Mother Nature takes away what she had bestowed upon us for free - this wonderful gift, of life. Value it, while you have it.
Fakeer Ishavardas

Nuala McNulty
Tawnylust Lodge
Co. Leitrim
+ 353 87 9172143

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Walking in the footsteps of Sean MacDiarmada 2019

Walking in the Footsteps and Seeing with their Eyes

Follow the route taken by Sean Mac Diarmada from Corracloona NS to the Mac Diarmada House.

View through window of Mac Diarmda Cottage 2016

 Views of a Revolutionary, Window of Sean MacDiarmada's Cottage

Join in this wonderful walk. Hear the history of the school and see the sights that Mac Diarmada and his siblings would have enjoyed on the route to and from school. The profusion of colours and wildlife in this magical spot in Spring & Summer is a feast for the senses. The purples and pinks of the Herb Robert, Rhododendron, Ragged Robin and Speedwell

pink rhodedendron in bloom

Fields of Bog Cotton and White Thorn line your route

White Thorm

Stunning views over Lough MacNean across to Fermanagh and, if the evening is clear, the Donegal Mountains, all the while Big, Middle and Little Thur mountains keep a watchful eye on walkers' progress. Hear about Thur's archaeological monuments which catch the sunrise at the spring and autumn equinoxes

Views over Lough MacNean

Meet at Kiltyclogher Heritage Centre  for tour. Walk is approx 2.8 Km and slow paced. Please wear walking shoes. History and wildlife guides will accompany you.

Mac Diarmada cottage will be open for tours after some walks

For more information and to book;
Phone Paul on; 085 856 0962
E mail Leitrim Landscapes Guided Walks

Monday, 20 May 2019

Tawnylust Lodge and The North Leitrim Adventures

Thanks to Denise Sallee, California for this wonderful blog on her adventures in North Leitrim

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2019

Tawnylust Lodge & the North Leitrim Adventures

Several years ago,  I was fortunate to find myself living for a year in the wild and woolly hills of North Leitrim, Ireland.  This month I returned there, taking my daughter and her husband.  We stayed at Nuala McNulty's self-catering apartment Tawnylust Lodge - the exact spot where I lived for the first four months of my year-long residency.  I could not have chosen a better spot to nest and to fall in love with the best-kept secret in all of Ireland!

No matter which direction you look from Tawnylust Lodge the view is spectacular ~ 

The apartment has a patio and a large picture window - the perfect vista for daydreaming.
You are surrounded by green pasture land, and stunning hills.  The sky provides an endless and changing panorama.  Truly, a feast for the eyes and solace for the busy mind.

There is so much to explore in this area and Tawnylust Lodge is the perfect home base!

Fowley's Falls near Rossinver is a lovely walk through the woods.  The nearby Organic Centre is the perfect stop for tea or lunch and a look around. Pick up some healthy food and fix a meal in your self-catering apartment at Tawnylust Lodge. 

Everywhere - under the trees, behind an ancient rock, - nature reminds us all of what is truly important in life and allows us the chance to reconnect and nourish our heart and our soul. 

The nearby town of Manorhamilton, with its impressive castle, great pubs and a cafe is well worth a look. Just outside the town is a wonderful forest area, Milltown Woods, with a picnic area and easily accessible walks along the Bonet River.

Sligo, located not far from Manorhamilton, is a bustling and fun town.  The Garavogue River is the heart of this town which reaches toward the Atlantic Ocean.  It was also a favorite haunt of W.B. Yeats who gained much of his inspiration in and around this area.

Surf's up!  Just outside of Sligo is Strandhill which offers an open vista of the Atlantic and the surrounding hills.  And, yes, you can surf from here. For a more relaxing time, soak yourself in a warm seaweed bath while you listen to the waves and unwind at VOYA Seaweed Baths.  I've soaked there three times and brought a few visiting friends. It is a wonderful healing experience.

One of my very favorite spots near Sligo is Carrowmore ~ "home to the largest and oldest collection of stone circles and dolmens known from neolithic Ireland."  The perfect blend of our very earliest history and our mythology. 

At the end of a day's adventures Tawnylust Lodge is the ideal home to return to!
Photograph copyright Nuala McNulty

NOTE:  Unless otherwise noted, all images are by Denise Sallee, All Rights Reserved, 2019.