Events in Ireland 2012

National Biodiversity Data Centre:
Organiser: Dr Úna Fitzpatrick
1.    Award for site with most plants found during Bioblitz

National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin:
Organiser: Dr Matthew Jebb
1.    Fascinating Molecules!
See the sculptures. DNA — with the Liliaceae — a member of which, Paris japonica, has the biggest genome known — 150 b base pairs - 50 times a human's. Cellulose — in malvaceae bed — family of cotton. Starch – Solanaceae.

The Burren College of Art and the BurrenBeo Trust:
Organiser: Stephen Ward
1.    Two walks: wild flowers of the Burren coast

Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with the National Botanic Gardens:
Organiser: Dr Daniel Kelly
1.    Ireland’s Lilliputian Flora: Mosses and liverworts of the Phoenix Park
This series of events was held in conjunction with BioBlitz and documented the bryophyte flora of Phoenix Park:
2.    Uachtaran na hEireann Michael D Higgins launched Bioblitz 2012 at the visitor centre on Friday 18 May at 4:45 pm 
3.    Guided walks were led from the visitor centre on Friday May 18th at 7 pm (leader Daniel Kelly)
4.    Guided walks from the visitor centre were led on Saturday May 19th at 2 pm (leader Noeleen Smyth)
5.    Two specially commissioned botanical sculptures by Niamh Synnott were on view at the visitor centre
6.    Moss and liverworts were on display at the visitor centre and compound and stereomicroscopes available for examination of specimens. Workshop activities focused on how to identify different species

In spite of dismal weather, the combined Fascination of Plants Day/BioBlitz ( event brought out participants from a broad range of backgrounds, interests and age-groups. The focus, for the botanists, was the Lilliputian world of bryophytes. We went a good way towards a re-survey of the bryophyte flora of the Phoenix Park (a first survey was published in 1993). It was also almost certainly the first time that the grounds of Aras an Uachtarain were explored by bryologists. Five species were recorded new to the Park: these included the first record for the park of a hornwort (Phaeoceros laevis), and one of the very few records from Co. Dublin for the liverwort Cololejeunea minutissima.

I attach a few pictures featuring President Michael D. Higgins showing his support at Ashtown Visitor Centre, Phoenix Park. Also in the pictures: Dr Liam Lysaght, Dr Noeleen Smyth and myself. The moss is Funaria hygrometrica. (Authorship of photos:

Two stoneware murals by the sculptor Niamh Synnott went on display for the first time: one was of Funaria hygrometrica, the other of the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha. They will soon be on permanent display in the Botany Dept., TCD.

National University of Ireland Galway:
Organiser: Dr Zoë Popper
1.    Photo competition
We Had a HUGE response to the photograph competition with over 250 photographs sent in! Nearly all of them were of extremely high calibre and extremely beautiful and/or thought provoking. This of course gave the panel of 7 judges a hard time in choosing the winners! Congratulations to all of the entrants on making the choices of the winning photographs so difficult!  and of course to all of the winners!!!
The photo competition winners were:
School-age children:
Daire Elberse: Burren (best photograph of a Burren plant) 
Clyde Dockery: Melon (best photograph of fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s)) 
Raymond Joyce: ‘Uncurling’ (best photograph of fern(s)) 
Eleanor Collins: ‘Sun cup’ (best photograph of alien/non-native/naturalised plant(s)) 
Cristina Wall: ‘Blown away’ (best photograph artistic merit)
Eamonn O’Sullivan: Cowering sorrel 
Laura Killeen: Ox-eye daisy
Members of the public (18+), postgraduate student, or university staff member:
Brian McMahon: ‘Dry stone wall’ (best photograph of a Burren plant) 
Pat Morgan: Beans (best photograph of fruit(s) and/or vegetable(s)) 
Julia Baer: 'Sea Spaghetti (Himanthalia elongata)' (best photograph of seaweed(s)) 
Ray Butler: ‘Ferny corner in Barna Woods’ (best photograph of fern(s)) 
Martina Wernecke: Crocosmia (best photograph of alien/non-native/naturalised plant(s)) 
Susan Prediger: Moss macro (best photograph artistic merit)

2.    Exhibition at NUI Galway Art Gallery: Our Fascinating Flora! May 18–23
Photographs from the photo competition will be exhibited alongside plant-centred art in various media including works from Botanical artist Margareta Pertl, artists Miriam de Burca, Alan Crowley, Peter Sherry, ceramic art from Veronika Straberger, Anna Pielach and Louise Browne, and wood turning from Ambrose and Brid O’Halloran.

3.    Story-telling: May 18

Rab Fulton and Dr Maria Tuohy and members of her lab told a selection of stories with a strong plant theme including Jack and the Beanstalk. Everyone loved the stories and we were also amazed by the children’s reaction to the exhibition!


4.    NUI Galway organic garden open to the public: May 18, 2–4 pm
The NUI Galway Organic Garden was open from 2–4 pm with guided tours of the veg beds, herb spiral and fruit bed.  

5.    Tree climbing: May 23
Keith Browne and experts from NUI Galway Mountaineering club (with harnesses, ropes etc) helped us get a better look from canopy

Thank you!!!

I am positive no one will mind if I add some detail about everyone that helped (although this is slightly tricky as I hope that I do not forget anyone!). I hope you will be able to see how involved so many members of the staff and public were in the events at NUI Galway.

Firstly: Dr Dagmar Stengel (Botany and Plant Science) helped in far too many ways to list but including hugely sensible advice on organisation, helping with photograph judging, the overall display and major improvements in the gallery, contributing a variety of art and photographs, contributing a photograph for the advertising flier, collecting art works, for taking photographs of the storytelling and exhibition opening, for making posters, …….

All the members of my lab (Dr Olivier Leroux, Anna Pielach, Sandra Raimundo) and Dr Stengel’s lab (Dr Freddy Guiheneuf, Udo Nitschke, Matthias Schmidt, Wil Organ and Chris Eschmann) that willingly helped in very many ways in particular Olivier, Anna and Wil for their artistic skills, Wil for being happy to be interviewed by Galway Bay fm and his sense of graphic design, Sandra and Olivier for helping hang the many pictures, making the comment cards, taking photographs of the storytelling and exhibition opening, and putting up advertising fliers, Anna for showing me how to put a Blog together.  

Dr Heinz Peter Nasheuer for amongst other things photograph judging, contributing a photograph for the advertising flier, and opening the exhibition.

Rab Fulton and Dr Maria Tuohy and all members of her lab in Biochemistry (Toni O'Donovan, Mary Shier, Jessica Coyne, Finola Cliffe, Vijay Gupta Manimaran Ayyachamy and Jeremy Brebion) for their captivating story telling abilities and energies and to the 60+ children from Presentation primary School, the Jez and younger!!!!! Who amazed all of us with their fantastic response and engagement with the exhibition (in particular Anna and Veronika’s ‘latch-on’ ( and the stories.

The 270+ entrants for the photo competition from members of staff, members of the public and school children and the panel of judges that helped decide the winners (Dr Dagmar Stengel, Dr Heinz Peter Nasheuer, Dr Sarah Knight, Lorraine McIlrath, Dr Olivier Leroux and Sandra Raimundo) — it was no easy task as the calibre was outstanding. Please take a look they are stunning!

The artists that featured in the exhibition including Louise Browne, Alan Crowley, Miriam de Burca, Ambrose and Brid O’Halloran, Peter Sherry, Veronika Straberger and Anna Pielach, Margareta and Helene Pertl, the students of St Dominics and NCAD students, Dr Olivier Leroux and Wil Organ (and everyone that helped getting these works to NUI  Galway Art Gallery including Dr Dagmar Stengel, Dr Tom Sherry, Dr Peter Crowley and Kristina Rehmet).

Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington for the Plant Science promotion she was involved in on May 18th!

Fiona Gillespie and everyone in the Organic Garden behind number 12 Distillery Road for opening up the garden to the public on Friday.

Keith Browne and members of the mountaineering club and Dean Pearce and others in Buildings office for all of the arrangements and training for tree climbing — looking forward to the 23rd!!!

The Arts and Theatre Office at NUI Galway, Buildings Office, The Gardening and Grounds staff.

To everyone that gave up their time and rearranged their schedule on Friday to attend the opening. 

Thank you also to everyone involved in Fascination of Plants Day events throughout the country in particular Matthew Jebb and Noeleen Smyth at the National Botanic Gardens, Stephen Ward at BurrenBeo and Daniel Kelly at TCD (for more information on their events please see the Events in Ireland pages). 

And of course our sponsors: NUI Galway OÉ Gaillimh, Algal BioSciences (NUI Galway), Botany and Plant Science (NUI Galway), School of Natural Sciences (NUI Galway),The Ryan
Institute, Community Knowledge Initiative (NUI Galway), The Arts and Theatre Office (NUI Galway), Plant and AgriBioSciences Centre, Brigit’s Garden, Palgrave
Macmillan, Charlie Byrne’s, Corrib Princess, Evergreen, Bord Bia, Galway Water, Lennox

And anyone else I’ve forgotten…….with my apologies if I forgot to mention you!

Without all of these people and of course the fascinating plants these events would not have been possible.

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