Archive for the ‘Ballythomas Life’ Category

Nature On Our Doorstep, Wicklow/Wexford Border Area

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

The Covid19 quarantine (self isolating) regulations put in place by Government over the last couple of weeks do have a number of positive angles. The garden is beginning to take shape again, the guitar playing is improving and the nature walks with our dog Ruby have enabled both a reconnection with the local area while giving a timely reminder of the level of biodiversity surrounding our home.

In my life time biodiversity on land and under the sea has taken a massive hit, which was why I set up An Irish Anglers World back in 2008. Since then the graph has only gone in one direction and that is downwards due to the way that we as humans live our lives. We cannot have our cake and eat it, however it is our choice and as long as we as a species continue to prioritise economic growth over nature things are not going to change.

That said, the Covid19 pandemic and the subsequent decision by world leaders to place the world economy into “hibernation” is clearly beginning to show, at least in my local area, how pausing humanities modern approach to life is having a positive environmental effect. The question is, will world decision makers take heed and act on the obvious, they have shown us over the past few weeks that they can do it, but will they continue?

Will we as a species learn the lessons of this period in world history and place nature first, time will tell. In the mean while my temporary lay off from work has its benefits, allowing plenty of free time to get out in the air. Living in a rural upland area, the land above us is predominantly commercial sitka spruce forestry with pockets of beech wood on the forest periphery.

Within the surrounding forestry one can also find individual stands of sycamore, horse chestnut, scots pine, holly, birch, hawthorn and mountain ash (rowan). Below us are a patch work of fields and hedgerows stretching into the distance where dairying, beef and sheep farming are practised, while approximately five miles south of us are the ancient oak woods of tomnafinoge.

Relatively unspoiled the local countryside is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. To date based on sightings and or sounds/calls my wife Mandy and I can list within the vicinity of our home a surprising number of species:


  • Fox, Badger, Sika Deer, Stoat, Red Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit, Hare, Rat, Mouse, Vole,


  • Buzzard, Red Kite, Ravan, Rook, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Chaffinch, Chiff Chaff, Goldfinch, Magpie, Robin, Pied Wagtail, Yellow wagtail, Blue Tit, Great tit, Tree sparrow, Meadow pipit, Thrush, Cuckoo, Woodpecker, Tree Creeper, Pheasant, Woodcock, Snipe, Sparrow hawk, Jay, Mallard duck,

Reptiles and Amphibians

  • Common Lizard, Frog,

Butterflies and Bees

  • Butterflies {Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Silver Washed Fritillary, Common Blue, Cabbage White, Orange tip}, Bumble bee, Honey bee,


  • Brown trout, Sea trout, Salmon

Trees Native to Ireland

  • Ash, Birch, Blackthorn, Broom, Crab Apple, Elder, Gorse, Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Yew, Oak, Rowan, Scot’s Pine, Willow.

From wild upland to arable lowland, mountain trails and forest walks I suppose that we are spoiled for choice, however in these times of social distancing within what is a relentlessly fast paced world isn’t it great to have real time to commune with nature again. Long may it continue beyond the Covid19 crisis…………..

Friday 10/04/2020

A warm dry bright hazy April day, just a very light southerly breeze, temperature about 14 – 16 degrees, yellow flowered gorse giving off that coconut aroma.

Yesterday heard a woodpecker in the middle beech wood where the souterain is. There are buzzards nesting close to the house, we see them gliding the thermals and perched high in trees.

Today I saw my first orange tip butterfly of the season along with small peacock butterflies.

House martins arrived today and are sorting out the gable end nest.

Saw a cuckoo fly along the forest boundary at the back of us.

Observed a tree sparrow within a holly bush.

Thursday 16/04/2020

Climbed Croghan Kinsella (606 meters, 1,987 feet) from the Carrig wood entrance today. from this point the ascent is 400 meters and takes approximately an hour and a half through initially commercial forestry before merging into open moorland.

Although a beautiful sunny day, a chill north east wind prompted the wearing of suitable clothing especially post emerging from the forest shelter. Graded an easy/moderate climb, from Carrig wood the path to the summit initially utilises forest paths before steepening as one clears the forest line to an at least one in four scree path which runs alongside a dry stone wall. The heart will pump and the legs will burn but eventually the path will begin to flatten out as one reaches the summit plateau. Eventually the path takes a sharp right petering out into rough moorland with the summit visible roughly a quarter mile away to the east.

Allowing for a twenty minute rest at the summit, I departed my house at and returned just after On the way I had the opportunity to observe three female deer feeding in a forest clearing, while peacock butterflies were abundant in the warmer sheltered forest sections. Up on the moor I kept disturbing what I thought were initially skylarks but on closer inspection through my binoculars turned out to be meadow pipits, which hovered in the strong breeze before settling back into the scrub whence they came.

April 26th, 2020

Went for a stroll to an area of wood that has a large stand of mature Eucalyptus trees, whoever planted those, heard the first cuckoo, watched a wren within a thicket and also jays dancing within the trees.

April 30th, 2020

A chiff chaff visited the garden.

May 7th, 2020

While walking the dog in the beech wood this morning a young fox crossed our path, later a female deer bounced out from a thicket spied us and bounced back in again. Later in the afternoon while strolling along the Bann river, a tributary of the Slaney, near Hollyfort I came across a mallard duck. A walk along approx’ 500 meters of the Bann river up and downstream of Hollyfort bridge revealed only one salmon parr.

May 14th 2020

Heard a cuckoo twice within the last couple of days as again, but only once, a woodpecker drumming from what sounded like the lower beech wood. Around noon today three buzzards were circling on the thermals above our house. While walking the dog I heard but did not see wrens calling from within thickets along the woodland path.

Bluebells are appearing along the roadside but not in the woodland glades yet. It is very sunny today but cold, 8 degrees centigrade, due to a northwest breeze. Cabbage white butterflies are visiting the garden as well as plenty of bees, bumble bees and what I call bibio or whin flies.

May 18th 2020

A polar/continental air stream has pushed around to the south warming up the breeze, carrying a hint of dampness but still no rain, the sky is grey and the air is fresh. A buzzard wheels above Carrig wood, its tail and wing feathers controlling a circular wide banking movement, scanning the ground below for carrion or prey the great bird emits a plaintive high pitched call.

Prompted by the sunny weekend a carpet of bluebells is now emerging on the woodland floor. Mossy and strewn with leaf litter from last Autumn in conjunction with the tree canopy a visual, aural softness envelopes. Beech and oak are the predominant tree species in this section of woodland creating a level of biodiversity in marked contrast to the commercial mono culture that surrounds it.

Sample Oak Leaf

Sample Beech Leaf

May 25th 2020

The red kite, a once common bird of prey became absent within Ireland roughly 200 years ago due to predation from man. In 2011 a partnership between Ireland’s NPWS and the Golden Eagle Trust reintroduced these stunning looking raptors into the Avoca, Co. Wicklow area using stock donated from Wales.

Nine years later the success of the project can be gauged by a regular evening phenomenon whereby red kites flock over the village of Avoca, Co. Wicklow. Last evening was no exception with up to a dozen birds soaring and swooping in the strong southerly wind which pushed up the Avonmore river valley. A wonderful sight which is free for everybody to enjoy…..

May 27th 2020

Took a walk through the beech wood close to the viewing point this morning with a view to capturing bluebells in full bloom, I was not disappointed. Their scent wafted under the tree canopy helped by a light southerly breeze, in patches the forest floor was a carpet of blue.

All of a sudden about fifty meters away there was a movement in the leaf litter, a red squirrel oblivious of me was hopping and bounding from mossy rock to log to tree stump, stopping briefly to observe along the way. One of the largest that I have seen, he/she disappeared behind a tree. Maybe it shinned up in the lee because I did not see it for five minutes.

Then out of the corner of my eye another sudden movement through the leaf litter. This time I followed keeping low along a ditch, then there were two the second one smaller. Proceeding to climb up a large beech they vanished into the canopy above. Pure magic………..

June 1st 2020

Mandy and I heard woodpeckers drumming a month or so back and searched for the nest without any luck. Through research we found out what type of tree they use for nesting and also found out that once the nesting starts the drumming stops. Mandy has a phone app’ with bird calls on it. She memorised the woodpeckers call and yesterday evening identified a nesting site due to the call sounds emanating from a particular area.

This morning we visited the site and established a pattern of behaviour where the chick would call and the parents would flit between trees close by settling briefly to scope the lie of the land before flying to the nesting tree with collected food. They would not land at the nest hole but instead below or to one side where they would scope again before moving towards the nest hole whence the chick would poke its head out ready to receive food.

The birds are obviously very secretive and both male and female work in tandem to bring a steady supply of grub to their hungry and very noisy offspring. To capture the above images was a first for me and was the culmination of a plan that worked to perfection……



Anti Water Charges/Austerity Protest Dublin December 10th 2014

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Make no mistake the Irish people mean business, fed up with property taxes, water charges, job bridge schemes, internships, falling wages and salaries, children emigrating and most importantly being treated like imbeciles by a patronising administration who have turned a deaf ear on the people who elected them. Within seconds of walking through the doors of Leinster House this present FG/Labour government tore up the mandate that placed them in office and immediately became willing lap dogs of the IMF, billionaires, bankers and EU political high rollers, well after today their days are well and truly numbered.

Right2Water Protest Dublin 10122014

Don’t believe the muted analysis which you will hear on the mainstream media channels, having listened to George Hook on Newstalk and watched RTE’s six one news, let me say having stood on Merrion Square after walking very slowly down Nassau St, two sides of Merrion SQ were chock a block along with Nassau St, tens of thousands of people from all over Ireland, good natured but seething after the lies they have been proffered by this most hated of administrations. To hear Minister Alan Kelly say this evening that “water charges are here to stay” more or less says it all. Are they that thick that they will not listen to the people? No, because they have their Ministerial pensions ahead of them, the cynical shower of bastards. One thing is very clear they will not win this one.

Jillian Godsil, Courage Beyond Endurance.

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Jill Godsil, a divorced mother of two and entrepreneur who’s business failed in the crash is standing for election in Europe on a “debt ticket”. Government in servitude to the IMF/ECB/EU troika have made debt a “moral issue” when in fact it is a “business condition”.

Jill Godsil, a courageous woman standing for Europe in 2014.

Jill deserves our vote because unlike many who are standing for county council and European elections she carries a real experiential story into the fray, has a vision, is intelligent, personable, knows how to close business deals and possesses oodles of integrity.

Jill stands for debt relief based on fair business resolutions:

  • Jill was bankrupted because she couldn’t pay her mortgage, the bank rejected a firm offer of €500,000 that Jill through an ingenious social media promotion managed to raise on her property, the bank eventually sold the property for €160,000.
  • Jill single handedly has changed the law on bankrupts standing for European elections. The Government caved in and revised the legislation which “disallowed bankrupt people from standing” the morning of and prior to Jill’s court hearing.

With 80% of Ireland’s laws now emanating from Europe the European parliament is where the real action is and will become increasingly so. Jill Godsil will represent a true voice of experience in both Brussels and Strasbourg for the close on 400,000 unemployed and tens of thousands of hard pressed mortgage holders who have committed no crime but are made feel like they have by a Government that has placed corporate interest ahead of social responsibility.

Click on: Jill Godsil, a worthy European Candidate.

The Politics of Economic Shock Therapy

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Today, 17/04/2013, Margaret “There Is No Alternative” Thatcher is being given a state funeral. Her political ethos sadly is presently alive and well in Ireland. A friend of Pinochet and a divisive force in the United Kingdom, she worshiped at the alter of the free, deregulated market, today Ireland and its people are shackled by similar misguided policies.

Shock Doctrine, The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, by Naomi Klien.

If you want to know why you recently lost your job, have taken a severe pay cut or see your wages driven down, live in negative equity, have seen your son or daughter emigrate, find that your vote is worthless, feel talked down too by official Ireland, are constantly told that there is no alternative, witness privatisation of natural resources and public services on a grand scale, in effect feel powerless, then read Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine”. Not an opinion, more like a thesis, the truth of how social democracy has been hijacked by the troika of corporate interest/politicians/and global financiers will jump off the page at you.

If you really want a better world for your children then start by reading Naomi Klein’s treatise.

Eight Month Old Baby Myles Red Cards FG/Lab and the Troika

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Yesterday I went marching in Dublin with Mammy, Daddy, and two of my Grandparents so that Ireland can be a better place to live in when I grow up. My Mammy told me that I owed €15,000 on the day that I was born to a person that I have never met, which I find very hard to understand. She also told me that the forest where I go in my buggy might be sold to a business man from another country, who might lock the gate before cutting down all the trees. I didn’t like being told this so I waved a red card along with lots of other people at the politicians and EU finance Ministers, telling them to “stop messing with my future”.

I don’t know a lot as I’m only learning, however, when I grow up I would like to have a choice about my education and future career, I would like to know that someone will take care of Granny and Grandad properly if they happen to get sick, and that the countryside which I love to be taken too will not be spoiled by too many windmills, and that there will be fish in the sea again I’m half Grandad’s age.

Red carding FG/Lab and the EU Finance Ministers outside Dublin Castle, Saturday March 13th 2013.

Most important for me is that when I can speak properly my voice is heard by those fella’s who I waved my red card at today. The big crowd around me were waving red cards too, many of them were as old as Granny and Grandad, made me think, do those guys in the Castle ever listen?

Mobilise to end Austerity and Defeat the Property tax

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Recent history clearly shows that neoliberal economic policies as now practised by Ireland’s incumbent administration fail repeatedly, witness Pinochet’s Chile and Argentina under the military junta. They spawn dictatorial governments who do not listen to the voters who elected them, a consolidation of wealth within a greedy minority, privatisation of state assets and services, drive down wages, and create rampant unemployment.

Austerity has failed Ireland; witness over 100,000 emigrating (a lifestyle choice?), 450,000 on the dole (over 25% of the working population and not 14% as the Government would say), the job market distorted (witness job bridge and internships, deliberately dumbing down valid career options and forcing down wages), distortion of the housing market (recent property tax valuations have both under and over valued properties, so much for the free market our present Government continually backs), sell off the true benefits accruing from Ireland’s natural capital base through privatisation of state assets, and dismiss out of hand the significant role of public services in the delivery of key provisions such as security, health, environment, education, and economic development (witness cuts in public jobs, cuts in public wages, and privitisation of public services), in short rendering the Irish people subjugated instead of free.

I know that both sets of my grandparents presently are turning in their graves, the free Ireland they wished for rapidly being turned into a corporate fiefdom.

If you want a country that is managed by real Government rather than corporate/political puppets mobilise on Saturday, April 13th next in Dublin, as the first stage in a process to create a free democratic Ireland led by people of vision, intelligence, integrity, and courage.

100,000 people marched for peace in Dublin prior to the last Gulf War. Mobilise your friends and neighbours and fill Dame street with 100,000 people on Saturday April 13th, so sending a clear message to our Government, the EU finance ministers present in Dublin Castle, and the world at large that Irish people will not be subjugated and treated like children any longer.

No to the Property Tax

Monday, March 11th, 2013

Born and raised by Irish emigrant parents in 1960′s London I experienced the brave new world of hope, individual potential and freedom, which enveloped large parts of the world post WWII. Sadly, Ireland today in a socio-economic context bears no resemblance to that so recent period of endless possibility.

Last week I received my valuation forms through the post, the first stage in a process which, if I proceed, will tie my family home to the Government forever, a property tax sold on the pretext of provision of local services, with refusal to pay spun through the media as being unpatriotic.

I want to make it clear that I will never pay this unjust tax, my home is sacrosanct and as stated in a previous post is not an earner, so to those who seek to foister this charge, in an obvious jack boot manner, do your worst.

Living in the country I pay for and pipe my own water, maintain my own septic tank, and pay for my bins and recycling. The road outside still has the pot holes created during the big snow of 2010.

I and my family have always paid our way and are not averse to service charges where service is provided.

Free market economics as advocated by Milton Friedman failed in various South American countries to include Chile and Argentina. It is as plain as day obvious that the Chicago School of Economics has got to Enda, Michael, Eamonn et al. The Irish people do not deserve the subjugation masquarading as democracy that we have to presently endure day in and day out.

To Josephine Feehily, Revenue Chairperson, and your minions, you may say that you are doing your job as per the Government in terms of collecting and or chasing up on this charge, but think again so did Hitlers cronies.

I am not a criminal and I am quite happy to pay my way and contribute to the state ongoing as I have shown in my life to date. However this soldier knows good law from bad, and at this stage, based on the guts of a decade of appalling self serving administrations, the time has come to draw a line in the sand.

Ashley Hayden will not sign up for this charge, EVER. I, my family, and the people of Ireland deserve better Governance, and SOONER OR LATER we will get it.

Yours sincerely,

Ashley Hayden

Fight This Outrageous Property Tax

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

My house is not an asset, it’s a home, not a privilege but a democratic right earned through sheer hard graft. My wife and I have invested 27 years of blood, sweat, and tears, into buying and maintaining it, along with a bucket load of tax. Feudalism had died out by the 15th century, now our Government wants to resurrect the system circa 2012. Well Enda, Michael, Brendan, Eamonn, et al  let me tell you, I or my family have no intention ever of becoming your vassals.

This is my family home, it is not and never will be an asset.

In principal I have no problem paying a property tax on an asset that generates immediate wealth. Should I own, which I do not an investment property, should my property be a business premises, should I sell my home to upgrade, I accept these are all possible examples of where a carefully thought out (in terms of targeting and implementation) tax may rightfully be imposed. However while I and my wife live and raise a family in this property it is a home first and foremost, so steer clear.


My wife and I bought our house to provide shelter for ourselves and to raise a family, not as a cash cow, the idea is absurd. It is a means to an end, a roof over our heads, and most certainly not an earner, if anything the exact opposite, spending on maintenance and household bills coming to mind. Today, now our kids are reared it means Christmas, Easter, and family get togethers, a sack full of memories and more to come. It means births, boyfriends, girlfriends, and grandchildren, exam triumphs, neighbours dropping in, and the sad passing of loved ones. We do not make a cent on our home and will not even when we pass on, however when that time comes you will make a tidy sum through inheritance tax, so back off now.

Our grandson Myles with his loving parents Jen and Dan.

Enda, you threaten my wife and I with a punitive 8% interest per month should we refuse to pay and plan to deduct the tax at source from social welfare payments, we and all the Irish people deserve better. Jack boots went out of fashion in 1945, just because you lick up to the 2012 reincarnation don’t try to pawn her system off on us. My wife and I did not cause the present economic mess, and remember lest you conveniently forget, while the last Fianna Fail administration brought this country to its economic knees you were in opposition and made a pretty poor fist of it, ergo, a lot of blame lies on yours and your parties doorstep too.

Mother and Daughters.

Contrary to popular media expression, most of Ireland did not buy into the madness that created our current national economic situation. Property ownership first and foremost is about putting a roof over peoples heads and is certainly not predicated by dollar signs. When I and my wife finally shuffle off this mortal coil you or whatever administration is in charge then will receive their pound of flesh, until then you won’t, as much as I or my wife are able, get a penny unless you use the force of the state. Remember jack boot tyranny was put down in 1945, it can and will be put down again……….

Yours with conviction,

Ashley Hayden

Gorey, Co. Wexford, Ireland.

Shillelagh and District Hunt, Tally Ho Meet, November 17th 2012

Saturday, November 17th, 2012

David Nolan with the hounds.

Pierre serves up some Dutch courage.

Howard rallys the troops.

Mandy and Dixie ready to rock.

Tally Ho meet.

Following the hounds.

Dixie Foals, Eventually

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Well a process that started with Dixie, a working hunter, meeting very briefly with Howard and Alan Woods Grade A show jumping Connemara stallion Kingstown Cavalier of Tally Ho House Connemara’s, ended nearly 12 months later with a text book delivery at 02.20am on the morning of 16th April 2012. Nearly four weeks late and causing sleepless nights as her every move was watched through what became termed “Capail Cam”, an in house monitoring device, Dixie finally got into gear and did the business.

Dixie foaling, being helped by Howard Woods.

Mandy would like very much to thank Howard Woods for making himself available to attend the birth at short notice, and also for all the advice and encouragement proffered by Elsie, Alan, and Howard over the last number of years, however much as the little foal benefited, washing up liquid enemas will not become a regular feature up in Ballythomas.

Dixie connecting with her new born foal.

It was interesting and exciting to witness such an event for the first time, and very reassuring to have such real knowledge and experience locally to tap into. Dixie did a trojan job and bonded immediately with her newborn colt whose name still has to be decided, but it is most definitely not going to be Angus, of the AC/DC variety and not the Aberdeen.

Dixie cleaning her new colt.

After about an hour the young colt gingerly found his feet and through the morning has been getting stronger by the hour as he suckles with his mum.

Standing up in the morning.

Well Jen, that’s one down and one to go. Nature is a wonderful thing.

Out in the air.

Out in the air, Dixie’s new foal is presented to the world, thank’s Syl for the help in getting him outside, Dixie is very protective.