Great Skua: Illustration Michael Viney

Birds, too, have their bullies, muggers and thieves. Seagulls, some of them, snatch ice-creams and sandwiches from human fingers. I once watched a rav(...)

“Clare Island has been a mirage for the last four months for this coronavirus-confined granny whose solitary confinement meant that all conversations – mainly Gooh-Goohs and Gah-Gahs – with the first grandchild were through a mobile phone screen.” Photograph: Getty Images

It is Mini Madam’s maiden voyage and she is the only one onboard not wearing a mask as the Clew Bay Queen slips out of the little harbour at Roonagh p(...)

Clare Island cliffs. Illustration: Michael Viney

A shade too big to be mysterious, a bit too near the shore to seem utterly remote, Clare Island still has an iconic presence. Its arching silhouette, (...)

Old Irish Goats: As the last remaining goats of their kind, the animals warrant protection, not least as an irreplaceable genetic resource for future breeding.  Illustration: Michael Viney

A neighbour stopped on the road one morning in our braver “alternative” years to lean over the hedge and inquire, in encouraging tones, as to the purp(...)

Kite surfer Francois Colussi takes on the Atlantic.

Mayo was the spinster aunt of Irish tourism for many years, forgotten and forlorn; forever in the shadow of her more glamorous sisters further south. (...)

How many must die?: a flight of young sparrows. Illustration: Michael Viney

Apart from our evening swirl of swallows, swooping for midges between the trees, the acre has fallen rather quiet. This follows an avian breeding seas(...)

Irish lakes are home to rare plants and fauna that few nonsnorkelers will ever see. Illustration: Michael Viney

An ecologist friend spends much of his working life in a neoprene wetsuit, floating face-down with mask and snorkel on Ireland’s lakes and lagoons. He(...)

Gunnera growing on Achill. Photograph: KB Wills and Jerry Moorman

‘Which plants do best in our gardens?” Matthew Jebb asks before answering himself: “Usually foreign plants, because generally our predators and pathog(...)

Sealed off by a landslide: a cave of ancient bear bones at Chauvet, in France, was shut off by a landslide 30,000 years ago. Illustration: Michael Viney

It was Oscar Wilde’s father, William, a Dublin surgeon-naturalist, who decided in the 1860s that it was time some order was put on the thousands of bo(...)

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(...)

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