Grant Aided Projects in County Laois
Scroll down to view examples of recent grant aided projects in County Laois.
Surveys of Bats in Laois (2007 and 2008)
Bats are among the most important and least well-known elements of the biodiversity of Laois. To address this, Laois Heritage Forum, in partnership with the Heritage Council, has carried out several targeted surveys of bats throughout the county.
In 2007, a survey of bats using bridges in the north-west of Laois was carried out. Looking mainly at stone (masonry) bridges over watercourses originating in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, this survey covered both Laois and Offaly. Of the 102 bridges surveyed, 15 had evidence of usage by bats. Species present were mostly Daubenton’s Bat (also known as “the water bat”) and Natterer’s Bat, with Brown Long-eared Bat also recorded.
Recommendations were made on how best to manage bridges throughout the county, to ensure that bats using bridges for day or night-time roosts are protected and also to ensure that bridges which are suitable for use by bats are maintained in such a way as to enhance their value for wildlife.
In 2008, a further survey collected information on numbers and diversity of bats using a range of properties in Local Authority management in Laois, to identify management issues and to make recommendations for best practice in how these properties will be maintained in the future. Areas surveyed ranged from office buildings to parks and landfill sites, and a huge range of valuable information was collected.
Bats recorded in our buildings included Brown Long-eared, Common and Soprano Pipistrelles. Confirmed bat roosts were located at the Courthouses in Borris-in-Ossory and Stradbally, and at the libraries at Timahoe and Clonaslee (both formers Churches).
In addition, Daubenton’s and Natterer’s Bats were found in our parks and recreation areas. Laois County Council now has roost reports on all of the important bat roosts on our property, which will greatly assist in ensuring that management and maintenance in the future take these vulnerable residents into account.
Copies of the report on these and many other wildlife surveys are available at www.laois.ie/heritage.
Mountmellick Canal Book (2008)
A book has been published on the Mountmellick Branch of the Grand Canal, with the aim of raising of awareness of this important element of the built and natural heritage of County Laois
The industrial heritage and wildlife of the now defunct Canal were surveyed in 2006, in a partnership between Laois County Council and the Heritage Council. Carried out by Fred Hamond and John Feehan the survey examined the industrial heritage of the now dry Mountmellick Branch of the Grand Canal (Barrow Line) which ran from Monasterevin through Portarlington to Mountmellick. This canal was once a crucial part of the life of Mountmellick, but since its closure in the 1960s, it has fallen out of public consciousness. The line of the canal is still visible over much of its 18km length, and has become an important haven for wildlife since is abandonment.
This publication offers the opportunity to use the technical data gathered, along with the memories of Mountmellick people, gathered during the oral history recording project in 2006, to bring the story of the Mountmellick Canal to a new audience, and to celebrate both its industrial past and its new importance for biodiversity. The design of the booklet uses newly commissioned photographs of the canal line as it is today, as well as historic photographs, maps, and charts.
Copies of the book are available from Laois Heritage Office, phone 057-867 4348, e-mail email@example.com.
Go Green in the Classroom Teacher training course (2008)
A week-long training course on wildlife and environmental issues was delivered to Laois primary school teachers, in a partnership between Laois County Council, Laois Education Centre and the Heritage Council.
The course was designed in 2007 by the Laois County Council Heritage Officer and Environmental Awareness Officer. It was approved by the Department of Education and Science as one of their official summer training courses for teachers.
It was delivered during the first week of July to a full quota of 25 teachers. The schedule for the week included a mix of classroom sessions, workshops and practical sessions, though the field trips were somewhat curtailed by the weather!
The topics covered included Environmental & Wildlife Issues, Sharing nature with Children (delivered by Eanna ní Lamhna), Identifying Irish wildlife (Billy Flynn), wildlife gardening and encouraging wildlife in the school grounds (Rachel Kavanagh), the Green Schools Programme and the Heritage in Schools Programme. Field visits include a trip to the Laois landfill site, exploring local wildlife hotspots, a trip to a school wildlife garden.
Feedback from teachers was very positive and it is hoped that this course can be expanded and delivered to more teachers in future years.
Discovering Laois Wildlife Public workshops (2007 and 2008)
A series of practical workshops and field trips were held throughout Laois during the summer of 2008, aiming to raise awareness of biodiversity in Laois, and to bring biodiversity to a new audience. It followed on from a successful introductory series of indoor lectures and workshops held in 2007.
This project was delivered in co-operation with the Kildare and Offaly Heritage Officers. Workshops were held on Saturday mornings, with most taking the format of a presentation from the speaker for about 45 minutes, followed by an outdoor fieldtrip. As in 2007, the workshops were delivered in two “seasons”, in May-June and September – October. Topics covered were:
• Surveying Bats. Tutor: Tina Aughney Bat Conservation Ireland
• Identifying Wild Plants. Tutor: Fiona Devery BSBI
• How To Read A Map. Tutor: Michele Castiaux, Geologist
• Surveying Habitats. Tutor: Mary Tubridy, Ecological Consultant
• Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Tutor: Michael Jacob.
• Breeding Birds. Tutor: Dick Coombes BirdWatch Ireland
• Identifying Irish Trees. Tutor: Kate Crane & Aubrey Fennell Ancient Tree Forum & Tree Council of Ireland
• Raised Bogs. Tutor: Nuala Madigan IPCC
• Bird Atlas Of Britain & Ireland. Tutor: Alex Copland BirdWatch Ireland
In terms of feedback from participants and new audiences reached, this was a very successful project. Many people who had participated in2007 came to the workshops, but many new people who had not previously attended Heritage Office events also took part