Creative Ireland 2-day event draws enthusiastic crowds & Minister for Carlow Bog Banner Project

PLEASE NOTE: Access to Drummin Bog is limited due to the sensitive nature of the habitat and its status as a wildlife reserve. Great precaution must be taken in visiting the bog due to its unmarked deep drains, and other hazards. It is therefore recommended people do not walk on the bog alone. Children must always be supervised and no dogs please as efforts are in place to encourage birds to return. Thank you for understanding. In time, a woodland walkway is envisaged. The Drummin Bog Project is in its very early stages.

On Friday and Saturday 15-16 Oct, school children, teenagers, teachers, and adults from Drummond and St Mullins areas, the BEAM Centre in Bagenalstown, and visitors from across Counties Carlow, Kilkenny and Laois, and Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, were excited to engage with the early stages of Drummin Bog’s planned ecological and cultural restoration presented in Drummond Hall, South County Carlow, Ireland.

Supported by Creative Ireland, Phase 1 of Creative Drummin’s Banner Project, an innovative and inclusive 2-day art-led ecosocial programme connected people of the region to the special natural and cultural heritage that is Drummin Bog through: peatland paleo-archaeological, ecological and botanical information, microscopic images, local museum artefacts, peat-testing tools, woodwright activities, and guided biodiversity talks and walks.

Phase 1 of the Banner Project also kickstarts the hands-on art-making elements of the overall project. The ancient pollens and diatoms – visually beautiful – are the rich visual resource for its eventual designs, patterns and colours for a large-scale banner celebrating Drummin Bog and BEAM members. Members of the BEAM Centre in Bagenalstown have just finished the initial introduction to making the banner and will work on with it over the next three months. To have some members visit on the day – and to make some lino-prints while in the hall – brought the entire project to life.

Showcasing Drummin Bog’s ancient history and its science (including the Carlow LEADER funded baseline scientific surveys which can be read here) was also an opportunity to link this special place to the wider South Carlow area, especially the history of nearby St. Mullins which at times has run parallel to the bog itself.

There was also evident pride in community efforts to connect to larger national and crucial UN global efforts for community-led ecosystem restoration 2021-2030 through the magic that is little Drummin Bog.

The current two-year Creative Drummin project and Phase 1 of theBanner Project‘ involved engaging talks and images of ancient pollen, algae, and sphagnum moss from Wet Futures paleo-ecologists (ecologists who study the ancient cultural and ecological heritage of wetlands), with Drs Rosie Everett and Ben Gearey (UCC). They were excited to share that they confidently predict material over 5000 yrs old is in the lower reaches of Drummin bog – these findings will be confirmed by specialist radiocarbon dating, the results of which were unfortunately delayed due to COVID.

Rosie and Ben were enthusiastic in reporting back and sharing the deep time and cultural history of Drummin bog from their earlier visit and peat sampling of Drummin Bog, undertaken in July 2021.

Photo: Cathy Fitzgerald, photos below by Jules Michael.

In an exercise to think about how old Drummin bog is, using microscopic images engaged young learners (image: Heritage Office, Carlow County Council)
A colleague of Rosie and Ben created wooden stamps of the astonishing microscopic lifeforms found in Drummin Bog: children, visitors and lacemakers were all interested and made their own prints.
Ben and Rosie giving a talk during the 2-day event
Some of the microscopic diatoms and algae were photographed by Tom Hill – a geoarchaeologist, diatomist and palynologist. Special thanks to photographer Anthony Hobbs for printing these images as archival quality prints on Hahnemuhle paper.

Ancient woodwright expert Eoin Donnelly led a wooden spoon-making workshop using two-toned Ash wood (its colour affected by Ash-dieback). He harvested the wood earlier in the week from woodlands adjacent to Drummin Bog, which through LEADER funding will be under ecological forestry management (read more here).

With the support of Creative Ireland, Eoin will be returning in the Spring to work with the Men’s Shed. Opportunities to forge and sustain connections such as this underpin the Banner Project.

Eoin sourcing coppiced birch from Drummin Bog woodlands to support the photographic display for Jules and the spoon workshop.

Photos: Jules Michael

A further example of Drummin Bog creating relationships was when Barn Owl and bird expert, Mick Wright from BirdWatch Ireland enthralled young and old with information about the numbers and habits of Barn Owls in Carlow and Kilkenny. Mick thinks Drummin Bog could be a good nesting site for Barn Owls. Through conversations with Jules, links were made with Borris Men’s Shed, who subsequently made the spectacular nesting box.

Photos: Jules Michael

This wonderful construction – made by Borris Men’s Shed to an open-source template as recommended by BirdWatch Ireland – will be erected on Drummin Bog. A special visit from Otto the beautiful young Barn Owl who was interested in the crowd gathered around him and his keeper Isolde Proud brought home the uniqueness of these birds to a rapt audience.

Photos: Jules Michael

Borris Men’s Shed. A special thank you for the spectacular owl nesting box made by Jim, Neil, T ony, Mick and John. Present in the photo l to r: Tony, Neil, Mick and John. This nesting box will be installed on Drummin Bogin a partnership between Mick Wright of BirdWatch Ireland and the Borris Mens Shed. Photo: Jules Michael

The generous loan of St Mullins Heritage Centre museum artefacts, contributions from the Borris Lace Makers and from nearby residents were used to create the deep-time visual history for the Drummin Bog Timeline.

Measured to replicate Drummin Bog’s age i.e. 1mm = 1 year, the timeline was over 9 meters long!!

The Senior classroom, St. Brendan’s N.S. Drummond helped with the eras and dates, and overall it was very much enjoyed by their fellow schoolmates, the principals, staff and pupils of St. Michael’s N.S., Newtown and Scoil Moling N.S., Glynn, young people from BEAM Bagenalstown, and all visitors to the event.

BEAM Bagenalstown participants start their banner-making creative process with the Drummin Bog Techniques Notebook. Photo: Jules Michael

Another special guest to the Creative Drummin Banner Project exhibition was Minister of Heritage & Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan.

Minister of Heritage & Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan enjoying the Autumn colours and beauty of Drummin Bog. Photo: Cathy Fitzgerald

Minister Noonan has been a keen supporter of Creative Drummin and acknowledged the previous beautiful Drummin Bog photo book An Fraughan by Jules Michael, which was published earlier this year to celebrate World Wetlands Day 2021. Jules Michael, Cathy Fitzgerald and the Drummin Bog committee and paleo-ecologists Drs Rosie Everett and Ben Gearey were delighted to show him the latest Creative Drummin exhibition at Drummond Hall (more photos below).

Minister Noonan congratulated everyone involved and shared his observation that Creative Drummin was establishing a ‘template’ of creative community programming for some of the most urgent challenges of our times, especially in how it was skilfully employing the social power of creativity to connect people to their natural heritage.

Minister Noonan was also keen to visit Drummin bog and geologist-sculptor and Chair of Drummin Bog, Martin Lyttle, was delighted to bring him and show him key features of Drummin bog.

Martin also gave an overview of Drummin Bog’s proposed restoration in the coming months and long-term plans. As Drummin Bog recently received a Peatland Community Engagement grant from the National Park and Wildlife Service (NPWS), it was special to thank Minister Noonan in person as his Department has significantly expanded and supported country-wide peatland and biodiversity restoration efforts.

The Banner Project ended with a large crowd walking from Drummond Hall to Drummin Bog. Consulting ecologist, botanist Dr Fiona MacGowan who generously shared her knowledge of the flora of Drummin Bog from her recent ecological and botanical survey of Drummin Bog (which can now be downloaded here).

Final walk and talk on Drummin Bog, lead by ecologist, botanist Dr Fiona MacGowan: Photo Jules Michaels

The Banner Project is generously supported by Creative Ireland Carlow and the Carlow Arts Office. During this event the Drummin Bog Project committee were also delighted to welcome Carlow County Council’s new Heritage Officer and archaeologist, Eoin O’Sullivan.

Enjoy the Gallery of Photos below of the 2-day programme and exhibition of the Creative Ireland Banner Project

Photos from Day 1 of the Banner Project (if you click the images, you can watch as a slideshow)

Friday 15 Oct 2021, Drummond Hall, Co. Carlow by Cathy Fitzgerald

Photos from Saturday 16 Oct 2021, Drummond Hall, Co. Carlow

Creative Drummin Acknowledgements:

The Creative Ireland Banner Project builds on previous Creative Drummin community engagement projects that first began with a public exhibition at VISUAL Carlow, Dec., 2017.

With the support of the Drummin Bog Project team, Carlow-based community artist and painter Jules Michael has spearheaded creative outreach and engaging, inclusive exhibitions in Drummond Hall with participation from nearby schools. This latest event from Creative Drummin considerably extended connections across Carlow county. Phase 2 of the Banner Project will be delivered in Spring 2022.

Ecological artist and educator Dr Cathy Fitzgerald’s doctoral ecosocial art community framework from The Ecological Turn (2018), and her innovative online ecoliteracy training for local artists via the Haumea Ecoversity have supported Jules’ work in bringing art and ecology together, and contributes to the strategy and vision of the ecosocial art programme that is Creative Drummin.

The Banner Project Phase 1, was designed and run by Carlow-based artist Jules Michael with the support of Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, and the team of the voluntary Drummin Bog Project committee. Pictured above from left, members of the Drummin Bog Project team, with visitors: Alexis Bernstorff, visiting paleo-ecologists Dr Ben Gearey (UCC) and Dr Rosie Everett, sculptor-geologist Martin Lyttle (Chair), Dr Cathy Fitzgerald, Minister Malcolm Noonan, Mick Wright (BirdWatch Ireland), Alan Price, Dr Brigid O’Regan, Jules Michael (absent Matt Hayden and John Tully) outside Drummond Hall, the location for the Banner Project 2-day event. Photo: Eoin Sullivan, The Heritage Office, County Carlow

Special Thanks to:

Creative Ireland

Sinead Dowling, Creative Ireland Programme Coordinator and Carlow Arts Officer 
Aileen Nolan, Creative Carlow Project Assistant and the Arts Office team
Dr Ben Gearey (UCC) and Dr Rosie Everett – Wet Futures

Alexis Bernstorff and family
Drummin Bog Project committee

Minister Malcolm Noonan
Eoin Donnelly
Fiona MacGowan
Mick Wright (Birdwatch Ireland)
Isolde Proud and Otto the Barn Owl 

Borris Men’s Shed
BEAM Centre, Bagenalstown
St Mullins Heritage Centre and Anne Doyle
Joe Moylan
The Finn Family
Mary O’Neill

Ms Cheryl Brennan and the Senior classroom, St. Brendan’s N.S. Drummond
The principals, staff and pupils of St. Michael’s N.S., Newtown and Scoil Moling N.S., Glynn

Helena McAteer
Seamus O’Carroll
Pat Murphy and Drummond Hall
Anthony Hobbs
Eoin Sullivan, Carlow County Council Heritage Officer

Manus Crowley

Sue Nunn, KCLR96fm
The Nationalist

Support Drummin Bog: Get Involved or Make a Donation. All support gratefully appreciated.

Would you like to get involved with the Drummin Bog Project.
Join the voluntary committee? People with diverse skills and knowledge are welcome. To find out more, please contact Martin Lyttle, Chair of Drummin Bog Project at

The County Carlow Drummin Bog Project is a non-profit community environmental programme.

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