Monday, October 09, 2006

The Unique Habitat of Ballindooley Lough

Ballindooley Lough is one of the most beautiful and most unique natural areas of Galway City. The lake is still surrounded by agricultural land comprising small fields separated by traditional dry stone walls. There is a mosaic of ecologically important habitats each with their own set of wildlife including karst limestone rock formations, meadows, woodland, peatland, wetland and lake. Ballindooley Lough is the finest as well as being the largest example of 'turlough' inside the municipal boundaries. A turlough ('dry lake' in Irish) is a type of lake that exists in porous limestone regions characterised by huge seasonal variations in water cover largely dictated by rainfall. In summer or in a dry spell, a turlough can be reduced to a minute area compared to its winter expanse.
In June 2006 the famed ecologist, Mr Gordon D'Arcy, brought pupils from our school on a fascinating guided tour of the Lough and its surrounding hinterland.

Use all Your Senses to Appreciate 'Nature'
Before we started our walk, Gordon asked us to use all our senses of 'touch', 'smell', 'sound' as well as 'sight' to enjoy the wonders of the plants and animals that we will encounter.

He said that the sound of a bird, the smell of a flower or the feel of a bog below our feet were just as important as looking at them.

Thanks to his advice, the walk became a voyage of discovery!

Even the Rocks are alive!
We first visited what looked like fields of rock. Gordon said that the rock was known as limestone and showed that the area millons of years ago once formed the bottom of an ocean!
For limestone is made up of the remains of plants and animals that lay on the sea floor and were over time comprised together to form a hard rock.
To prove his point he showed us many examples of the outlines of shellfish in the limestone.

Animal Detective in Action!

Later he moved alongside a stone wall and pointed out some scratches at one of its lowest point. Gordon explained that these markings were made by the nails of animal paws as they crossed the wall. Wow!
We then walked along a lane where on one side there was a traditional drystone wall and on the other a modern concrete wall. Gordon told us to look at both and judge what type was best for wildlife. We all agreed that the drystone was the best- it was alive with flowers, plants and its porus structure would be great for allowing small animals such as mice and vole to move through it. On the other hand, the concrete structure was totally devoid of life.

The Meadow
From the limestone plains, we climbed a small wall and arrived in a lush meadow where we marvelled at the high grasses, the insects, the wild flowers and of course the cows! After we all ran down a hill, Gordon had us stop, pick up some plants and examine them using our senses.
As we got closer to the lake, the ground got softer and wetter. Gordon asked us to jump up and down. This we did and we felt like we were moving on top of a giant sponge.
We picked up some flowers that Gordon called 'orchids' and 'thistles' and are common in boggy or damp meadows.

The Bog
When we got to the lake, we could see on the side of the banks different coloured layers of peat. 'Peat' is a clay type substance made of decomposing plants and is found in wet land. Gordon says that this shows the lake is getting smaller as the area is changing from solid water to one of just being waterlogged known as a 'bog'. He pointed to a piece of higher ground that was covered in trees. This he said was known in Irish as a 'crannog'-an island made by local people in the middle of a lake. They transported large rocks and earth in boats and dumped them until the material reached above the waterline. Then they build dwellings for themselves and their cattle. These crannogs offered extra protection in times of war.

Monday, March 06, 2006

School News
  • Congratulations to Danielle O Connell who was the winner of the SPAR design a healthy lunchbox competition. She will represent Galway in the provincial stages of the competition to be held in the coming weeks.
  • School will be closed for St Patricks weekend on Friday 17th of March and also on Monday 20th of March. We would like to wish everyone a very happy St Patricks day, from staff and children of Castlegar N.S.
  • Junior Infants, Senior Infants and First class thoroughly enjoyed the drama performed by Branar sa Scoil.
  • Thanks to all who supported Amnesty International by buying friendship braclets. We raised 100 euro for this worthy cause.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


The Angels spread the good news to the Shepherds. The shepherds followed the star to the stable in Bethlehem where Jesus the saviour was born.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Scoil Colmcille Naofa celebrated the Christmas season with a school mass in our church on Thursday, December 25th. Fr. Reilly celebrated the mass with us. As part of the homily we presented our Pageant. It was very enjoyable and helped us all get into the spirit of Christmas.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Eco-habitat of Ballindooley Lough
In 2003, the pupils of Scoil Cholmcille created a large 3D model of the beautiful Ballindooley Lough and its environs.
The project was supervised by Mairtin O'Ceidigh and formed out contribution in that year to the innovative Galway 'Fionn' Primary School Science initiative coordinated by the Galway Science and Technology Board based at the Galway Education Centre

The Oskey

A few hundred yards from the school is Ballindooley lake which is home to an abundance of wildlife including a protected plant. The lake is know locally as "The Oskey", a name given to the rough grass and heathers which grow in a grazing section normally flooded in the winter.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Below is a list of nine of these habitations that includes their most famous (or infamous) aristocratic owners:
'Mionlach': Thomas Coleman
'Tyrellan': Dominick Lynche
'Castlegar': Rolland Skeret
Carrowbrown': Donell Óg O Hologhan
'Killeen': Williman and Remund McWm Ffiegh
'Ballybrit': Redmond McThomas
'Ballindooley': Redmond Reogh
'Cloonacaunee': Richard Beg
'Kiltullagh' : John Blacke Fitz Ricard.

The other two castles are 'Merlin Park' and 'Roscam' .

This year we intend to do a project on all eleven castles in our area.

A Brief History
on the
Parish of
Famed for its sporting and cultural traditions, the parish of Castlegar lies to the east of of the City of Galway, wedged between Galway Bay to its south and west and Lough Corrib and River to its north and east.
The parish of Castlegar emerged in or around the 1790s. But its history goes back thousands of years with much of its heritage dictated by its natural environment of rivers, lakes and wetlands. A crannog (an Iron Age habitation built on an artifical island) can still be seen today at the southern end of Ballindooley Lough . The river Corrib previously spread its waters via its tidal Terryland (Sandy) River tributory over 240 acres of land which eventually disappeared underground in a large swallow hole in porous limestone rock located at the back of the present-day Glenburren Park.
Before the middle of the nineteenth century, there were no roads for the people of Menlo to travel to the city except by crossing from Ballindooley over to the Tuam Road.
Then a large drainage scheme was initiated by the construction of a wall along the eastern side of the river Corrib. Work began on this dyke wall in 1844 out of stone quarried from the area of modern day Tirellan Heights.
The appropriately named 'Dyke Road' was opened in 1845