Members of Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead (Belmullet Tidy Towns ) were delighted with the large number of people who attended the launch of their first photographic exhibition in Áras Inis Gluaire last Friday.
Titled It’s All About the Bees and the Seas, the exhibition was launched by Dave Suddaby of Birdwatch Ireland. Belmullet Tidy Towns Committee Secretary, Katherine Mangan, said: "Although it has recently become a buzzword, Belmullet Tidy Towns have actually been working on biodiversity for at least 10 years. Our efforts include sea-life and wildflower storyboards, corncrake tours in conjunction with Ballycroy National Park and now this wonderful exhibition."
The exhibition is an important part of the group’s work in relation to their biodiversity campaign, which has been recognised on a national platform – it was awarded first place in the Together for Biodiversity Awards at the National Biodiversity Conference held in Dublin Castle last February.
It’s All About the Bees and the Seas features beautiful photographs of rare species, flora and fauna to be found in the Belmullet area, taken by members of the Baile Slachtmhar Bhéal an Mhuirthead team – John Reilly and Mary Keenaghan.
Speaking at the launch on behalf of the Tidy Towns committee, Margaret Tallott, said: "We have been using John’s and Mary’s amazing photographs for years in our applications and in our storyboards, and we’ve always wanted to show them off to a wider audience.
"We are delighted now that everyone can appreciate their beautiful work in this exhibition, and we are thrilled that it will also be going to other Mayo towns, thanks to Mayo North East (SICAP ).”
Margaret also welcomed Niamh Phelan, a UCD M.Sc. student who is collaborating with Belmullet Tidy Towns for her research on the great yellow bumblebee. Niamh’s research will provide the committee with an important opportunity to inform the committee’s practices for the future.
The Bees and Seas campaign endeavours to create awareness of the wealth of wildlife and marine life that is to be found in the area of Béal an Mhuirthead. The Mullet Peninsula is home to Ireland’s rarest bee, and in efforts to avoid the extinction of the Great Yellow Bumblebee (and also the Belted Beauty Moth ) the Tidy Towns group is taking some specific measures to create awareness among the wider community and to help with preserving and improving the amazing habitats which sustain these important species.
Margaret added: "Improving the quantity and quality of wildlife habitats in our area not only has obvious environmental benefits, but it also has a huge impact on the incredible potential for ecotourism in Belmullet and on the peninsula.
"We know for a fact that people travel here from far and wide to observe rare and endangered species, and it would be wonderful if we could all work together in terms of developing our reputation as an ecotourism destination."
In fact, as a result of the ‘Bees and Seas’ campaign the MSLETB VTOS programme plan to include an ecotourism module as part of a new Tourism with Business Award in the Belmullet Further Education Centre, commencing in September.
It’s All About the Bees and the Seas will continue to be exhibited in Áras Inis Gluaire, Belmullet until Monday, August 12.