Lawrencetown is a very rural village and the biodiversity of the countryside reaches right into the centre. The history of large estates around Lawrencetown has moulded some of its biodiversity features and attractions. We have many special features of wildlife, habitat and amenity, some which we have only recognized recently through our work and engagement with Galway Conservation Volunteers. Some of the main biodiversity features are as follows:
Pardy’s Store wall/ Donnelly’s Field
This area is a very valuable biodiversity hotspot with many things going on. Starting on the left hand side of the hotspot the old stone school house is an ideal ecosystem for bees as there are small gaps in the stone and the ivy is there also. Moving to the right along the field boundary wall and looking into the field it has many plants doing a good job e.g. nettles which are essential for caterpillars which are essential for butterflies. Also ivy, elder and ground elder, cowslips and plenty of deadwood for bees to hibernate in. the lumpy tufts of grass in the field are a good home for bees – high and dry. The trees although darkening the south half of the field in summer provide shade and cooling in summer and the sycamore trees along the fence line are valuable because as the leaves fall, they rot and are good for soil. Good for earthworms also.
The School Butterfly Garden
The school butterfly garden has many plants which provide colour and biodiversity value all year round. These include heather, butterfly bush, dianthus, phlox, cowslip, lavender, beebalm, primrose, scabious, ‘cray daisies’ lilies, sedum, heuchera. There is also a large hebe, native Irish trees and hedges such as whitethorn, blackthorn, hazel and rowan, pine and oak tree. See the vido below with local school teacher Annmarie McEvoy explaining the recent additins to the newly refurbished butterfly garden.
Approach road from the east (from Eyrecourt).
The old hedgerow/tree-lines on both sides of the road have a particularly wide variety of shrubs and trees, a species-rich remnant of a tree-canopied avenue. The variety of native flowering shrubs and trees are a rich source for pollinating insects and a rich habitat for song birds to the benefit and enjoyment of the local community. All this biodiversity can easily be experienced and heard by the people of Lawrencetown because there is a well-used, wide pavement along the whole stretch. Bluebells have been successfully established along this route.
Approach road from the west (from Portumna)
Old beech trees line both sides of the road, forming a canopy, and the avenue of trees is extended into 2 hectares or so of broad-leaved woodland, containing some native species such as yew, oak, holly and ash and a ground flora of woodland flowers. Bird song abounds in spring. In winter flocks of chaffinches can be seen feeding on the beech masts. There is a pavement along one side, which is often used by the community for enjoyment and exercise.
Community Garden, adjacent to the parochial house.
A community garden has been developed over the past few years on the site of the garden of the parochial house. This is known as the community garden or parish garden. There is a poly-tunnel tunnel for growing flowers from seed for planting around the village and the local employment scheme workers use this area as a base for their work. Many of the existing plants in the garden are bee-friendly and the wild hedgerow on the outer edge of the garden has hawthorn, ivy, willow and a line of bluebells which all contribute to the welfare of pollinating insects at different times of the year. The garden is open to the Lawrencetown people to enjoy and there is a bench to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet (and hear the bees!).
The Pollinator Bed
A Pollinator Bed project was started in the Community Garden in April 2017 with the cooperation of many people in the community. Two 5m x 5m square beds were prepared by the local Employment Scheme workers. One bed was sown with wildflower seeds by the Employment Scheme. The other bed was planted with species of garden flowers (30 species in all). Various local people contributed flower plants that they knew were very attractive to pollinating insects, especially bees, at different times of the year. Bees were visiting the patch from February to October (see photo below). Since 2017 the following actions have been carried out:
a. The pollinator bed is performing well and is spreading to the other quadrants. The beds have now self-seeded and have spread to the 3rd 5m x 5m square.
b. We created a sand mound to allow bees to hibernate over winter composed of builders sand and sandy subsoil (not top soil). Farmers are being encouraged to do this through the Glás scheme at present.
c. Our local ecologist hosted the children from the local national school at the pollinator bed in June 2018 to explain all about the activities and processes taking place therein.
Lawrencetown can boast several mature trees of different species, contributing greatly to the amenity and atmosphere of the village. The lime trees in the centre of the village, the grey poplar at the western end of the village and the oak trees at the western and eastern ends of the village are examples of mature trees. Two of these can be called ‘veteran trees’ associated directly with the old estate. These are the oak trees at the western approach (near the entrance to the Lisheen walk) and eastern approach (by the Banagher cross road). These may be over 150 years old. These trees provide various pollinating functions (lime trees especially) and invertebrate habitat (the veteran trees especially).
Lisheen Nature Walk
The Lawrencetown River encloses Lawrencetown on three sides. A path which runs along the river has been developed to the Seymour Mausoleum and Lisheen cemetery. Bird song and the sound of the bubbling stream combine to make this a very peaceful walk, regularly used and enjoyed by local people. A new information board has been put up at the entrance to the walk, describing the biodiversity and local history to be seen along the way.
Community Bog at Lismany/ Kylemore.
About 10 ha of very good quality, near-natural raised bog was leased from Bord na Móna a few years ago and a 200m board walk was constructed into the centre of the bog in order to allow local people to experience this wonderful amenity more fully. Maintenance of the site is ongoing and a new 10 year lease has been signed this year with Bord na Mona. A new information sign was erected in February 2018 at the entrance to the boardwalk explaining the biodiversity on the bog. Several of the photographs of plant species were taken on the bog itself by a local photographer. A lot of work went into this to capture the right information for this specific bog, there is no generic information or photographs here!!