Into the light: uncovered pine stumps on the shore. Illustration: Michael Viney

All summer the quiet tides returned the sand that last winter’s storms had dragged offshore, heaping it even deeper over the old oaken wreck on(...)

Harry Clifton, Paula Meehan and Michael Longley: to spend even a short time with these three very different poets is to experience a tiny fraction of their love of words and their finely-tuned sense of mischief. Photograph: Dylan Madden

The Ireland Chair of Poetry is a solemn, formal, academic institution. The poets who hold it, however, tend to be anything but. Gather the three mo(...)

Great lake: mayflies’ sudden emergence from the water and nuptial swarmings have signalled the launch of anglers eager to catch trout with imitation mayflies of their own. Illustration: Michael Viney

The mayflies that dance above the lakes of late spring are of the insect order called Ephemeroptera: they hatch, fly, mate, lay eggs on the water and (...)

 A hiker on summit of Slieve Carr, in the Nephin Beg Mountains
Ten great walking weekends

Tóchar Phádraig, Co Mayo The walk from Ballintubber Abbey to Croagh Patrick is possibly the most alluring in Ireland, a 35km pilgrimage route th(...)

Erris. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

ERRIS, CO. MAYO   At every stage of this year’s Best Place to Go Wild in Ireland competition, we judges had lengthy discussions about (...)

Iberian mystery: how did the  large-flowered butterwort of Kerry get here? Photograph: Michael Viney

Just behind the telly is the strongest shelf in the house, supporting the heaviest books in my natural-history library. Weightiest of all is on(...)

In the Comeraghs: Coumshingaun Lough, in Co Waterford. Photograph: George Munday/Alamy

Robert Lloyd Praeger, whose book The Way That I Went, from 1937, remains an eccentric treasure for anyone interested in our natural history, described(...)

Flights of fancy: winged ants. Illustration: Michael Viney

In all that heat last month, and near enough to the silly season, these islands conjured not a single insect “plague”. No kamikaze squadrons of water (...)

Wicklow beaches: nesting terns have to be fenced off. Illustration: Michael Viney

Airy as spindrift, sharp as knives, they flicker beyond the third wave in flashes of white light, plunge-diving for sand eels. Their courtship is an a(...)

Spring audition: Browning wrote about the song thrush. Illustration: Michael Viney

Back on duty as soon as the rising temperature allowed, a song thrush has been waiting on the same branch, morning after morning, to share with(...)