Carrabane National School

Carrabane National School

' Birds in our Locality' Project

Carrabane National School was a participant in the 'Birds in Our Locality' Project that was jointly managed by the Galway Education Centre and Galway County Council.
It was a very interesting environmental programme that involved 15 Galway primary schools studying the bird life that could be found within the school grounds and in the surrounding area.
Carrabane is a small rural village located in a landscape that is still largely agricultural and characterised by fields, hedgerows and drystone walls. So our pupils had great opportunities to study birds going about their daily lives of feeding, nesting and flying.

Appreciating Science & the Environment
Over the last few years, our school has earned a well deserved reputation for the learning and promotion of Science through a series of unique projects that have captured the popular imagination of the people of Galway and have earned us nominations in successive Galway County Heritage Awards .
Through our involvement in the innovative 'Fionn' Primary School Science project, the teachers and pupils learnt digital video production skills and created a series of highly educative films dealing with a wide range of topics including:

  • The Solar System
  • Marine wildlife
  • Rahasane Turlough
Though each of these films was different in style, they all told a science story from a children's viewpoint with adults adopting a purely secondary role.

Rahasane Turlough
The first film was a documentary on Rahasane Turlough which is Ireland's largest 'turlough'.
A turlough is a type of lake found in limestone rock areas which can very enormously in size
during the course of the year due to rainfall.
is populated by many different bird species as well as by a myriad of other wildlife such as foxes and badgers. The lake is also home to a rare species of freshwater shrimp.
Under the supervision of Mairtáin Ó Ceidigh, pupils from the school created a large three-dimensional scaled model of the turlough and environs based on aerial photographs. This scuplture was primarily made of 'papier-mache'. Our teacher was very clever and he had us use a plastic tube connected to a liquid-filled soft-drinks bottle to demonstrate the maximum extent of the area covered by the turlough during the wet season. We put in field boundaries, roads and even some houses as well as larger-scaled models of wildlife such as herons and rabbits.
This beautiful sculpture was displayed over many years at a number of Science festivals and education centres.
View the film at this website

As part of a Diploma in ICT in Education one of our teachers developed a website on Rahasane Turlough. View it on this link

Washing Line, Balloons & the Solar System!
Our next documentary was on the origins of the universe and the planets of our Solar System. It was really funny as our Solar System consisted of an ordinary circular domestic washing-line with the planetary bodies made from tennis balls, balloons and papier-mache!
We actually produced a drama on our astronomical theme. For each planet, a pupil dressed up in appropriate garb to explain visually its properties and characteristics. The Mars persona was dressed up as a Warrior, that of Venus was a female Valentine card, and Mercury (the messenger of the Roman gods) was a mobile phone user!!

'Galway Bay in the Classroom'
Thanks to our successes with the Fionn films, Carrabane was one of a small number of schools selected to participate in an exciting new aquatic science project based around the installation of a classroom fish tank. But it was not your typical indoor aquarium that is populated by tropical fish swimming in freshwater.
Rather we were provided with over a dozen species of wildlife that can be found in the saltwaters of Galway Bay. Neil Campbell from Atlantaquaria stocked our new large seawater tank with a whole eco-system comprising starfish, hermit crabs, shore crabs, butter fish, shrimps, mullets and blenny fish.
We learnt about environmental care, what a wildlife habitat is, about the eating habits of our the different animals, about how each species can interactive and benefit each other as well as about the dangers posed by man-made pollution.
Of course mistakes were made and we learnt the hard way not to clean aquaria with washing up liquid! At the end of June, Neil arrived back in Carrabane and took away all the wildlife to enjoy a well-deserved summer holiday in the Atlantaquaria in sunny Salthill! Having spent so long in our school, they missed have been the most educated animals there!
They returned to us in September.

The Bird Table & Bird Project
Dr. Daire Ó hUallachain from the Dept of Zoology at Galway University was our mentor for the project and he assisted the pupils in developing a programme to study birds in our locality.
He gave us a lovely bird table. Everyday we placed food on it. Within a short period of time, it attracted in many different birds allowing us to study them at close quarters.
We saw robins, blackbirds, magpies, crows, jackdaws, thrushes and blue tits.

Daire taught us about the anatomy of birds, the types of habitats suitable for different species, about eating habits, about those birds that visit Ireland each summer and those that staying during the winter. He asked us to take notes of the birds that visit the feeder table each day and to undertake ongoing studies of the most popular birds that inhabit Woodford.

Woodlands & Fields
In the area surrounding our school, there are many difference habitats or wildlife homes for birds. Each habitat can attract in different types of animals. For instance a large woodland is popular for big wild mammals such as foxes and badgers because it offers lots of hidden places and safe areas from human beings. On the other hand, an open field would be too dangerous for them to live in as it would not provide them with protective cover.
We planted a small wood in the school grounds a few years ago. The trees in it are now quite big and birds are now starting to nest in the tops of the branches

At the end of the school year, our principal Mr. Colm McGuiness helped us produce a film of the Birds of Carrabane. It was really good!