Biodiversity in Bloom

With National Biodiversity Week Ireland taking place from 19-28 May, let’s take a look at the super biodiversity efforts taking place around some of our lighthouses thanks to our lighthouse partners.

Essential for supporting all of life on earth, without biodiversity – that’s a wide variety of animals, plants and microorganisms – our ecosystems simply can’t thrive and neither can our planet.

From the air we breathe to the very make up of the food we eat, the health of our ecosystems affect every part of all our lives – so it’s up to us all to be true Coastal Keepers and take any steps we can to enrich the biodiversity around us.

Close up of lavender plants in sunshine

Making perfect scents

On Cape Clear, Co. Cork, Ireland’s most south-westerly inhabited island, the scent of lavender is in the air – a treat for the bees and island visitors alike. Since 2021, businessmen Joe O’Driscoll and Mike Daly have planted 10,000+ lavender plants all over the island, much to the delight of the island’s bee population. Now a self-sustaining crop on the island, its aromatic blossoms can be used in a huge range of products for home, health and culinary uses, with many of the island’s artisans already incorporating it into their products. 

Trialled at the Island Craft Shop in the summer of 2022, Cléire Goats dairy farm produced their first lavender-flavoured ice cream; local Michelin-starred chef, Ahmed Dede of the Customs House Baltimore started using it on his menus; and Cape Clear Distillery – spearheaded by Seamus Ó Drisceoil, manager of Great Lighthouses of Ireland partner Cape Clear Ferries, has also started using its heady scents in their gin recipes. Visitors to the island have also been taking home scented souvenirs of locally-made lavender soap and lavender water.

In addition to sponsoring the island’s annual tree planting – an initiative on the go since 1989 that has seen fruit trees, Holly, Oak, Birch, Ash, Alder, Elder and Hawthorn trees flourish and for which volunteers planted a mixture of 150 native trees as recently as February 2023 – Cape Clear Ferries is also sponsoring the island’s calendar, with all proceeds going towards the plants and flowers needed to help re-pollinate this precious coastal haven.

Patch of grass by Fanad lighthouse with sea in the background and picnic benches in foreground
Wildflowers starting to grow at Fanad

Under the sea

Over in Co. Donegal, the team at Fanad Head Lighthouse have been actively growing wildflowers on site to enhance biodiversity, encouraging visitors to admire them but leave them untouched. 

On June 10th, just after World Ocean Day takes place on June 8th, Fanad Lighthouse will host a free children’s creative workshop delving into the world of marine biodiversity. The workshop, Caibleadh – Voices Over the Water, takes place for Cruinniú na nÓg – Ireland’s national day of free creativity for young people – and will see the Sea Collective explore the incredible marine biodiversity of Donegal’s waters and teach participants about the rich maritime history and connection to the sea that the county’s coastal communities enjoy. 

The young participants will choose Irish language phrases related to our oceans and be given free rein to creatively express and produce visual art installations using different materials. Working in groups using different mediums like drawing, painting, crafting, they will be guided by an experienced artist to nurture their creative skills. During the activity, marine biologists will share their knowledge of the wealth of marine biodiversity right here on our home shores. 

Aimed at fostering the young people’s sense of pride in local marine heritage and biodiversity, the resulting artworks will be displayed locally.

And the planet-friendly efforts don’t stop there, in April 2023 the Fanad Lighthouse team took part in the Climate Heroes Community Climate Challenge, in conjunction with World Earth Day. 

Ireland’s first ever Community Climate Challenge, the two-week test saw the team explore their personal carbon footprint and take positive small actions to live a more climate-friendly lifestyle. These actions included wasting no food, eating local fruits and vegetables, reducing the use of indoor heating and switching off any unnecessary lights at home.

The overall challenge saved 36,854.50kg of CO2 – equivalent to using 67,891kwh of energy and roughly the same as powering an entire house for 1,219 days! The Fanad Lighthouse team’s own collective effort saved 81.96kg of CO2 – the same as using a dishwasher for 126 hours. 

Fair play to all!


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