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Gormanston Summer School 2002

Travel details for getting to Gormanston have been added to this website since this page was first written and can be reached on this link.

This is my personal perspective of a annual convention organised by the Federation Of Irish Beekeeper's Associations, that I have had the privilege to attend for the third year running. This year was outstanding, especially in contrast to last year, which was marred by the Foot And Mouth disease outbreak in UK.

Sunday 21st July...
I had to travel a day earlier than most, due to availability of inexpensive flights from East Midlands Airport. On arrival at the airport waiting room I met Peter Hawkins and his wife that were also travelling early. A couple of minor delays occurred, but I was only half an hour late arriving at Dublin. I had a further wait at this airport as Jon Cox was arriving on the flight following mine. Brian O'Dochartai picked us both up and took us to the college. Where Eddie O'Sullivan had a plate of sandwiches and a pot of tea waiting for us.

Monday 22nd July...
The lectures & workshops do not start until the evening and so I spent the morning writing some of this text on my Psion 5 pocket computer. The afternoon started with a photograph for the identity card and the rest of the afternoon was spent greeting old friends and acquaintances in the lounge, where Ruary Rudd and I had a chat about the physics of FGMO (Food Grade Mineral Oil).

The course was officially opened at 7:00 pm. With speeches from a number of well informed politicians. This was followed by cheese and wine and as Guinness is more to my taste I set off to walk down to the 'Cock'. On the way I met Tim Vaughan and his son Aiden, who had flown in from the California Central Coast. We had a few glasses of Guinness and met a few more old acquaintances.

Tuesday 23rd July...
Keith Delaplane's morning lecture was followed by a workshop from Sr. Catherine entitled 'Cold Cooking'. I attended this as I have a fledgling set of web pages with the theme of 'Cooking in the Fridge'. The afternoon session was again provided by Keith Delaplane and the evening slot was filled by re-visiting Louise Neylin's workshop on lecturing techniques that I had been to in previous years. The 'Cock Inn' provided the evening dose of 'Extra Stout'

Wednesday 24th July...
The first morning lecture from Keith Delaplane was followed by a lecture by Jennifer Berry which I was particularly interested in... Her title was 'Langstroth versus nature: is the moveable frame hive an ideal nest' and some years ago I prepared a lecture for delivery at Apimondia with a title of 'A hive is a dangerous place to keep bees' (my lecture was never presented as I became ill). The first third of her lecture started in an almost identical fashion to mine, but it then diverged considerably.

The annual photograph is taken on the Wednesday lunchtime, on the steps at the front of the college... The three views below overlap so that nobody is missed off. They are large files and may take some time to load.

Left section of Gormanston 2002 Photo, permission by E. O'Sullivan Centre section of Gormanston 2002 Photo, permission by E. O'SullivanRight section of Gormanston 2002 Photo, permission by E. O'Sullivan

The afternoon saw me asleep in an armchair in the lounge, as the late sessions at the Cock took their toll.

Thursday 25th July...
Keith Delaplane's lecture on Honey Production Theory was presented from much more of an American perspective than I would have expected, considering the unusual climate in Ireland and UK. This was followed by a lecture from Ben harden on bee diseases. The Thursday afternoon has a 'mystery' coach tour which I did not participate in. I had a rest while Jon Cox and Chris Slade went off with Brian O'Dochartai for a spot of fishing. The Cock Inn was our source Guinness rations, but we had to put up with only half pint bottles as we had consumed the entire stock of pint bottles on the previous nights.

Friday 26th July...
After a lecture on Honeybee thermodynamics, I popped into the already started... Morphometry workshop by Micheál Mac Giolla Coda and Albert Knight. The afternoon lecture was on managing thirty colonies and after that I took some time off to draw some diagrams for later inclusion on my website. During the evening I and many others were part of the audience for the examination of John McMullen. (He is the secretary of Fingal BKA). This particular association serves North Co. Dublin around Balbriggan. Also undergoing the 'grilling' was Brian Millward, from the Warwickshire BKA in UK (Brian worked at that time, in the BBKA headquarters office at Stoneleigh.). Both candidates passed and were awarded Lectureship certificates). More 'Extra Stout' at the Cock Tavern finished off the day.

Saturday 27th July...
In the late morning after coffee the normal routine for Saturdays is the presentation of certificates, awards and golf prizes (I am told that the golf is as popular as ever) Then into lunch with many good byes and pledges to meet again next year. A lazy afternoon was spent in the college. The week had taken its toll on my physical strength and I went to bed at 6 pm not to wake until 7 am the following morning. Sunday 28th July...
After breakfast, I was whisked to the airport by Brian O'Dochartai, where I rested some more and finally left Dublin for the UK in the evening.

Next year (2003) the summer school runs from July 21st to July 26th... I can thoroughly recommend it to any beekeeper of any degree of experience... There are a wide range of lectures and workshops, a feature I enjoy is 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 properly recognised by educational bodies.

In 2000 Brian O'Dochartai via Email to the, then new, 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,
Co. Cork. Eire.
or phone 00353-(0)21-631011.

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

I hope to be able to make it next year... I already have my wife's permission!

Unfortunately much of this text has had to be re-written because I managed to damage my pocket computer, any errors or omissions are due to this and I apologise for the delay incurred. My appraisal of Keith Delaplane and his lectures is not meant to be uncomplimentary, but the lack of details is due to the loss of my Psion 5 notes. Keith's lectures were actually so well attended that many had to stand.

Footnote... I have managed to rebuild my Psion 5 using parts from a secondhand machine. I managed to recover 98% of the data, (most of which was backed up anyway) but was unable to find the appraisals that I made of Keith's lectures. The only bit that I failed to recall in the above page was that on Thursday evening I attended the workshop run by Louise Neylin on improving lecturing technique rather than the Tuesday as indicated further up the page.