David Larkin sent photographs of a garden spider (above), one of which he took through the web, showing its underside, which had markings quite different from its topside.

I have two nesting boxes in the garden, yet neither of them has ever been used. I have moved them away from the feeding tray, but still to no avail. (...)

A white swallow at Tacumshin from a photograph by Eric Dempsey. Illustration: Michael Viney

If I were going there this weekend – and I’m sorry I’m not, it’s too far – we would end up taking the road from Wexford to Kilmore Quay and then, a(...)

Blackberries come in many shapes and sizes. Illustration: Michael Viney

The glass tube with which I measure the rain for Met Éireann is kept safely sheathed on the upturned beak of a dolphin’s skull sitting on a bookcase ((...)

Fruit fly: scarce this year

A fruit fly just dropped into my glass of wine, normally there would have been many more. Also scarce or absent this year were bluebottles, black f(...)

Detail from watercolour drawings in the manuscripts of 17th-century German artist Johann Joachim Henneberger

Like the mysterious monks who created Ireland’s illuminated manuscripts, little is known about 17th-century German artist Johann Joachim Henneberger. (...)

Michael Viney explored many of the issues surrounding mother and baby homes in a groundbreaking series in The Irish Times in 1964. No Birthrigh(...)

The Sacred Heart Home opened in Bessborough, Co Cork, in 1922, managed by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary.  Cormac O’Tuama,  looks at teddies and flowers placed outside the gates of Bessborough during a memorial service on Sunday. Photograph: Provision

Until recent decades, the landscape was dotted with institutions where unmarried women were consigned to give birth in conditions of shame, secrecy an(...)

 Douglas Gageby, former editor of The Irish Times, with John Hume in 1992.   Photograph: Joe St Leger

Fifty years ago, The Irish Times published a strong challenge to the nationalist consensus (...)

Dam beavers: the animals can change the environment. Illustration: Michael Viney

The correspondence prompted by this column over the years has often been richly instructive. And along with the observations that nourish Eye on Natur(...)

 Michael Viney in his garden at Thallabawn. Photograph: Richard Johnson
The good life

In September 1961, London’s Evening Standard newspaper printed a small observation that was infused with incredulity. “In a few days’ time,” it report(...)