A Day in The Half Barrel and Back out to Sea

Manx Shearwater at the Half Barrel. 13-9-2017
Caherciveen native and sea angler, Tim Horgan holding the seafaring Manx Shearwater with publicans, Paddy Bradley and Kathleen O’Connor – the bird’s rescuer at the Half Barrel Bar on Wednesday night. The bird was returned to his natural habitat later that night. ©Photograph: John Reidy

He may have been blown off course by the heavy gales of the weekend and early week, but a straying Manx Shearwater landed on his webbed feet in Castleisland.

Local publican, Kathleen O’Connor took in a Manx Shearwater during the week after finding it cowering in an archway near The Half Barrel Bar at Upper Main Street.

Not knowing what species of bird she was dealing with, Kathleen certainly knew it needed help – if only to be rescued from the half wild cats which roam the area.

Listless Appearance

Its listless appearance led her to believe that the creature was injured and she rang a local vet who suggested she have if put down.

The kind hearted Kathleen created a cardboard apartment with a dining area and a supply of John West Sardines and some nuts and seeds.

The nuts and seeds were the big hit with the sea bird as Kathleen searched for a wildlife expert to provide her with advice as to what to do about returning the creature to its natural habitat.

Chris and Peggy and Manx Shearwater 25-9-1997
Chris Birmingham-Doody (left) and her Desmonds Avenue neighbour, Peggy O’Connor with a stranded and found Manx Shearwater in September 1997. ©Photograph: John Reidy 25-9-1997

Paschal Walsh

Paschal Walsh from Currow came to the rescue and checked the bird for injuries and he advised that the it be returned to the sea as soon as possible.

A message from Kathleen later read: “Released bird in Blennerville last night and thanks to Paschal Walsh from Currow for checking her out. Great to people interested in helping wild-life and not leaving them to die.”

The last time I had the occasion to mention Manx Shearwater and Castleisland in the one breath was almost 20 years ago to the day.

September 1997

In September 1997 local man Con Cronin found another of the species hiding in a cardboard box at the back of a house on Lower Main Street.

It had also been blown inland during strong winds during that mid September.

He brought it to the care of Chris Birmingham-Doody in Desmonds Avenue and, here too, an emergency, cardboard shelter was pressed into service.

Ed Carty Heard

A bird bath and strips of fish were offered and accepted and soon, local bird watcher Ed Carty heard of the visitor.

Ed took the bird and released it in Fenit and that episode too had a happy ending.

I’ve often said it before, but we’re a really hospitable little community here in the valley.

Serious Football Connection

Now, there is a serious footballing connection with the two appearances of the Manx Shearwater in Castleisland:

In 1997 Mayo got to the All-Ireland Senior Football Final and fell at that hurdle against a Kerry side which won the title for the first time in 11 years. I hope that’s not a omen of sorts for the westerners.

You can find out more about the Manx Shearwater and its way of life in the Birdwatch Ireland site with a click on the link here:


You can contact The Maine Valley Post on…Anyone in The Maine Valley Post catchment area who would like to send us news and captioned photographs for inclusion can send them to: jreidy@mainevalleypost.com  Queries about advertising and any other matters regarding The Maine Valley Post can also be sent to that address or just ring: 087 23 59 467. Please Note: A click on any of our adverts will reveal all you need to know about what our advertisers need to tell you.

Copyright Notice: The images and text which appear on The Maine Valley Post site remain the exclusive property of John Reidy, (unless stated otherwise) and are protected under International Copyright laws. Images or text may not be reproduced, copied, transmitted or manipulated without the written permission of the author, John Reidy, in this instance. Use of any image as the basis for another photographic concept or illustration (digital, artist rendering or alike) is a violation of International Copyright laws. All images are copyrighted © by John Reidy 2017 087 23 59 467.