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Gormanston Summer School 2000

This is my personal view of a convention organised by the Federation Of Irish Beekeeper's Associations.

Details of how to get to Gormanston have been added to this website since this page was written and can be reached on this link.

Sunday 23rd July...
Being less than fully fit I decided to travel a day earlier than most. I had instructions to travel by bus from Dublin Airport to Dublin Central Bus Station and then take another bus to Gormanston. I followed these instructions faithfully, but in retrospect I think I would have been better served by taking a taxi direct from the airport to the college. (I was almost late for the evening meal.) I was made very welcome by Michael Woulfe and Eddie O'Sullivan, then later in the evening I walked to the Huntsman pub and sampled a couple of bottles of Guinness 'Extra Stout'.

Monday 24th July...
The courses and workshops do not start until the evening and so I spent my day resting on a seat outside the college entrance, (a marvelous, tranquil setting), performing a long overdue sort out of files on my trusty Psion 5 pocket computer. The course was officially opened at 7:00 pm. The speeches made by a number of people were marred by the poor acoustics and an inadequate sound system. This shortcoming was made good by the brilliantly delivered and subtly worded offering from Dan Deasy. The evening was rounded off with a couple of glasses of red wine.

Tuesday 25th July...
9:30 Francis Ratnieks, Beekeeping at Sheffield University... I had hoped for a little more detail in this lecture, but in any case a good overview was given.

The next lecture was not quite what I had been expecting as it dealt with the historical development of the microscope with a few pictures of bee bits 'thrown in'.

The DNA lecture that followed lunch was again in the form of an overview that did not provide me with any additional information.

The 'Cock Inn' provided the evening dose of 'Extra Stout' after Tom Barrett's talk on computers in beekeeping.

Wednesday 26th July...
The Conflict lecture seemed to finish at about my own knowledge limits. During the afternoon I watched a candle making demonstration by June Hughes. In the evening, after a disappointing lecture from Dr Ratnieks, a small gang consisting of Ken Hoare, his wife Celia, Madeleine Pym, Chris Slade & myself went to a pub (nothing unusual about that), but we were treated to a wonderful display of musical talent, demonstrating a natural ability to enjoy themselves by making music and singing, they perform as a group professionally and their variation of instruments and talent combined to produce a beautiful effect.

Thursday 27th July...
Microscopy workshop (Redmond Williams) it was nice to get a 'hands on' go at some of the procedures that I have not yet explored for myself with my own microscope. The early evening was occupied by a 'Forum on Varroa'. The cock Inn was our source of music and Guinness rations later in the evening.

Friday 28th July...
Morphometry workshop... My main reason for attending Gormanston... Micheál Mac Giolla Coda, ably assisted by Albert Knight. They made a good job of explaining how simple this technique really is. The workshop format, involving the audience in 'hands on' participation, is very good for beekeeper retention of the information imparted. During the evening I was part of the audience for the examination of Tom Barrett, of Dublin and Tim Kidman, from the Wirral, UK. (who both passed Lectureship certificates). (More 'Extra Stout' at the Cock Inn.)

Saturday 29th July...
Two more Lecturers examinations:- Dr Lorna Browne, of Dublin and Ms Ethel Irvine, of Fermanagh (who both passed). followed by the presentation of certificates, awards and golf prizes (I am told that the golf is good, and is almost as popular, as the bee lectures.) Then into lunch with many good byes and pledges to meet again next year. A pleasant afternoon was spent with four remaining Warwickshire beekeepers that were flying back to the UK later than most and then just before seven o'clock I was on my own. I wrote the majority of this text... Then I had a Guinness free early night.

Sunday 30th July...
I was whisked to the airport by taxi and after an uneventful flight I was back in the UK.

Next year (2001) the Summer school runs from July 23rd to July 28th... I can thoroughly recommend it to any beekeeper of any degree of experience... There are a wide range of lectures and workshops, but the feature I found most useful was the 'dinner queue' and the cafeteria style meals, which gave rise to much stimulating discussion and conversation.

There is also a whole range of examinations from beginner standard up to 'lectureship' which you can study for and enter... These qualifications are backed and recognised by educational bodies.

Before the meeting: Brian O'Dochartai via Email to the Irish Beekeeping List told us of the saying 'Craic na mBeach' meaning a 'Knees-Up of Bees' pronounced:- 'crack nu makk' this is a very apt description of a very enjoyable time and I would commend it to any beekeeper without hesitation, (male or female, four years of age up to centenarians).

For further details write (yes 'snail mail' type write!) to:-

Michael Woulfe,
Railway House, Midleton,
County Cork. Eire.
or phone 00353-(0)21-631011.

Email Contact can be made via...
Eddie O'Sullivan

I have been aware of the existence of this convention for many years, but in the past I was not sure that it was relevant to me... I now think that FIBKA have been 'hiding their light under a bushel' and should perhaps have promoted it more vigorously, so that I (and many others that still do not know about it) could have realised earlier that it was such an important 'talking shop' and education structure.

I hope to be able to make future visits to renew the acquaintances and friendships that I made in the millennium year.

The Irish have a saying:-
Céad míle fáilte...Which means:- one hundred thousand welcomes
they certainly made me welcome... HOW ABOUT YOU NEXT YEAR?