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2,000-plus to attend outdoor science events during 2010 southeast festival

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend a range of more than 40 events at schools and various locations across the southeast during the 2010 Bealtaine Festival of Outdoor Science which runs from Sunday, May 16-Saturday, May 22.


The festival which is part of the Irish celebrations for International Year of Biodiversity is being organised by the Centre for Advancing the Learning of Mathematics, Science & Technology (CALMAST) at Waterford Institute of Technology in partnership with Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council and many other groups around the region.

On Sunday, May 16, it will be an early start for the National Dawn Chorus Day with gatherings in Stradbally Woods, Co Waterford and Jenkinstown Wood, Co Kilkenny at 4.30am and Fenor Bog, Co Waterford an hour later to listen to the dawn chorus in the company of experts.

At 7pm on Tuesday, May 18, Bruce McDonald of the Copper Coast Geopark will lead a guided walk of Tankardstown and Stage Cove, Co Waterford. On Wednesday, May 19 at 7pm, Tina Keating of the Copper Coast Geopark will guide a geology walk on Annestown Beach. At the same time on the following evening, Sean O’Connor from Copper Coast Geopark will guide a walk examining the geology of Bonmahon, Stage Cove and Knockmahon Strand.

On Thursday, May 20 at 8pm, wildlife photographer Mike Brown will deliver an illustrated talk at Dungarvan library.

Friday, May 21 will see the focus switch to the bat population with a ‘bat walk’ from the Church of Ireland carpark in Tallow, Co Waterford at 8.30pm where local expert Pat Smiddy will use listening equipment to eavesdrop on these nocturnal mammals.

The following day - Saturday, May 22 – will see special events to mark International Day for Biological Diversity. There will be a guided walk with the Waterford Institute of Technology Molecular Ecology Unit through Portlaw Wood at 9.30am. This will offer a rare opportunity to learn about one of Ireland’s most secretive creatures - the pine marten.

Also on Saturday, there will be a walk at the Cunnigar, Dungarvan, at 12noon with ornithologists Eugene Burke and Declan Clarke who will explain the animal and plant life and the geology of this special place. Families will be able to gather and identify materials and help artist Rayleen Clancy create an art installation.

Later that day at 5.30pm, artist Sinead Driver and geologist Tina Keating will work with families to create a giant mosaic at Annestown Strand using natural materials found on the beach.

Looking ahead to the events, Dr Sheila Donegan, CALMAST, said they offered a chance to celebrate all that’s best about Irish nature and wildlife. “We’re hugely fortunate in the southeast to have easy access to a hugely diverse natural environment and we expect over 2,000 participants in the festival. The programme of free events for the Bealtaine Festival of Outdoor Science allows us celebrate our living earth in a special way without leaving our own localities. By getting up close with nature we can get a new understanding and appreciation of our region.”

CALMAST’s Eoin Gill added: “This is our sixth annual Outdoor Science Festival and we have a special programme to mark the UN-designated International Day for Biological Diversity and the International Year of Biodiversity. We can teach young people about the importance of biodiversity and environment by exploring their local heritage, while families can learn more about our woodlands, hills and coasts and visit again and again through the summer. This festival is a partnership of wonderful groups in the southeast that, despite economic difficulties, are giving their time voluntarily to celebrate the marvellous natural heritage of the region.”

• Further information is available at While all events are free, bookings must be made through Eleanor Reade at the Waterford Institute of Technology School of Science 051 302037 or

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