River Loobagh Wildlife Study

Scoil Mocheallóg  engaged in a river walk with biodiversity expert, Geoff Hunt.  They visited their local river, the River Loobagh in Kilmallock. The aim of their trip was to learn about the life and food cycle of the river.

This is an account of their trip by 6th class student, Áine Dwane:

On Wednesday 3rd of May,  5th and 6th class in our school took part in a river walk to learn about the wildlife and food cycle of the river.  We were really looking forward to a hands-on experience and a chance to learn about the life in the river that we may never have noticed!  For our exploration, we were equipped with nets to catch the creatures, trays and basins to store the creatures we found and sample containers to examine the creatures.

To begin, Geoff explained the first stage of the food cycle- the plants growing in the river. The first plant we studied was the river crowfoot. The second stage of the food cycle refers to the underwater creatures. Geoff instructed us that the best method to catch the creatures was to scoop your net in and out of the crowfoot swiftly as many creatures’ habitats lie beneath the crowfoot. Another method that Geoff showed us was to select a loose rock in the water and dislodge it while having your net facing the flow of the river, ready to catch any creatures that were lodged beneath the rock.

We discovered many water creatures, with the help of Geoff’s clever techniques. We saw lots of minnows which are a common fresh water fish. Unlike the common minnows,  the crayfish were very scarce and we saw very few of them. Crayfish cannot tolerate polluted water. We also caught fresh water shrimps which are recyclers, as they eat dead plants. That means that they are known as detritivores. We were lucky to come across some and mayflies (both nymph and sub-adult) who live in streams and rivers. They have a very short lifespan, only living for a few days when they reach adult hood. They get the name mayfly from the fact that they fly from May to September. Another creature we encountered was the caddisfly nymph. The caddisfly builds their home by sticking stones and twigs together using silk. They then wrap it around themselves. Caddisflies are also herbivores as they consume the algae that grows on the stone. We also located lamprey and stickle back fish.

We learned about more plant life near the River Loobagh. Along with the crowfoot on the surface of the water, Geoff also pointed out the stems of irises on the river bank, though unfortunately, they were not in bloom yet. On the route to the river, we noticed a very invasive plant which previously we had learned about in school. This plant is called Japanese knotweed. It can be a major threat to houses and buildings near-by as its roots can break through solid materials such as tarmac and concrete. Geoff explained to us that in order to remove this plant, the owner of the land has to hire professionals to dispose of it properly.

The third stage of the food cycles involves the birds, who were watching the activity from a short distance. Swallows were the only birds on view this day, but another time we may be lucky enough to see a heron or even a kingfisher along the banks.

After about an hour, we returned to the classroom knowing a lot more about our local river. Geoff summarised what we had seen and explored. We even drew pictures of three of the creatures. At the end of the day, we had the opportunity to view many of the creatures which we had caught through the microscope, in great detail.

We would like to thank Geoff Hunt for our wonderful experience. All the class had great fun and learned many facts about our local river, the Loobagh.

By Áine Dwane, 6th class


New Year, New Flag, New Committees!

We have just started working on our next Green flag, ie the Transport and Travel Flag.

At the Junior side of the school we have set up three new committees:

  1. The Recycling Committee: Gabriela Rychel, Kate Dwane, Stephen Weakes, Jodie Burke, Callum O’Dwyer, Joshua Wormald and Tadgh Lynch. These children are in charge of recycling at the Junior side of the school, ensuring that we retain our Green Flag for recycling.
  2. The Water and Energy Committee.: Andrew O’Donnell and Cian O’Riordan. These two boys visit every classroom each day to make sure that water and electricity are not being wasted in our school. They are helping us to retain our Energy and Water Flags.
  3. The Travel Flag: James Coffey, Aoibhe Brosnan, Teresa Kennedy,Cillian Brosnan, Emma Murnane and Cathal Murphy. This is our newest committee and it is these children who will work hard to help us get our Travel Flag.010-3013-3
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Water Flag for Scoil Mocheallóg.

On Tuesday 17th Ms Clifford, Mrs. O’Connor, Sineád Allen and Margaret Cregan headed off to the Radison Hotel in Cork to be presented with our third Green flag, the Water flag. Congratulations to everyone on the Water committee and to all the pupils of Scoil Mocheallóg who all helped in attaining this flag.205 208 209 212 214 216

6th Class Students Decorate Town Walk with Trees

6th class students recently planted tree saplings along the river walk in the town.

Seven silver birch trees were planted. Silver birch are a native Irish tree and they help with biodiversity. Though only saplings at the moment, they can grow into  medium sized deciduous trees that will be between 15m and 25m when fully grown.

The planting of these trees are a continued project by Kilmallock Tidy Towns Association along the river walk. The committee seek to involve students from the local schools to participate in projects in their area. Last year, the students were  involved in planting trees and shrubs along the same walk. An insect hotel was also built to attract insects, especially bees, to the area.

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Water Flag / Green Schools

On Tuesday the 8th of February Scoil Mocheallóg was visited by a member of Limerick County Council to see how we were getting on with our efforts to conserve water in our school. Our pupils on the ‘Water Flag’ committee were ready with all the facts and figures to support the great efforts being made at both side of the school. Pupils from Ms. Brady’s second class were particularly knowledgeable about the amount of water we use to have a bath, take a shower, wash a car, fill a dishwasher etc. We are now waiting to see if we were successful in winning our third Green Flag for Scoil Mocheallóg.

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