Gormanston Index
  David A. Cushman logo  

FIBKA Gormanston Summer School 2007

 Federation Of Irish Beekeeper's Associations 

Gormanston College Frontage

Annual Gormanston Summer School, a report with pictures, of the events, meetings, lectures and social gatherings of the event that took place in July 2007.

There is an ever growing list of related pages above left, this is an indication of the high regard we beekeepers have for the event, which is put on annually by the Federation of Irish Beekeepers. All those that attend have a good time and learn much from the course itself and those that we meet and talk with, it is also a place to renew acquaintances with some of those beekeepers that we do not see very often.

Sunday 22nd July

In order to recover from the travelling, I arrived on the day before the conference itself starts. So it was Sunday afternoon that I was travelling, after delays in departure from East Midlands and further delays circling around Dublin airport for twenty minutes due to the closure of the runway during a massive rainstorm. On reaching bus stop No.8 in order to take a bus to Gormanston, I was confronted by two fluorescent jacketed gentlemen, who informed me that the bus stop The corridor known as 'Sibera' had just that day been moved to the other side of the multi story car park (Bus stop no.8 Atrium Road). In finding this new stop I asked directions of a young gentleman, who told me that he was also going to Gormanston, not for the Conference, but because he lived there. This was most opportune for me as he was picked up by his father at the bus stop outside the Huntsman pub and instead of me engaging a taxi his father dropped me off at the Franciscan College, such friendly gestures are commonplace in Ireland and it all makes the week that much more enjoyable.

My arrival time at the college was 3.50 pm and I was informed by the staff that I was the first to arrive... Within minutes I was joined by others and we had a cup of coffee in the newly created beekeeper's lounge that this year was situated on the other side of the main door in the room that used to be occupied by the honey show.

I was allotted room 2 on the Siberia corridor (shown at right), paid the €20 deposit for the key and took the lift to the top floor so that I could walk along the top corridor (now called the east wing) and then descend two flights of stairs to the Siberia complex, rather than struggling up two flights of stairs after walking along the bottom corridor.

During the evening many of the organisers and 'old stagers' arrived and the equipment suppliers unloaded their trailers.

Monday 23rd July

Breakfast is at 8.00 O'clock sharp, with a lengthy queue forming. The identity card this year, sadly lacked the usual photograph that in the past has caused much mirth, but the Australian member of staff laminating the ID cards, commented that the camera was so old that it had 'caused them much grief'. The identity card is also your meal ticket if you are a resident in the college.

Sometime during Monday morning... My tinnitus challenged ears overheard faintly the words 'shuffle' and 'Heidelberg printing press' in the general buzz that occurs in the foyer. It was not until I was traversing the top corridor the next time that I realised that they must have been talking about me... I have a slow shuffling gait and this in combination with sandals that are a deliberate loose fit, gives a sound that is very similar to a Heidelberg printing press when it is in operation (I have owned a couple of printing businesses myself, so I recognised the sound). The term 'Heidelberg shuffle' may not make it into the Oxford dictionary, but if it ever does, you will know from whence it came.

I strolled around and took some photographs many of which you will see on this page and watched the steady stream of new arrivals. After lunch John Burgess and myself were taken, by Ritchie Moran, on a car trip to the nearby coastal town of Skerries.

Skerries harbour, Ireland

We had a cup of coffee in the pub that is painted maroon in the image of Skerries harbour above.

Monday was finished off by the opening ceremony and my first visit to the Cock Tavern. The majority of visitors arrive during Monday afternoon, building the atmosphere and noise level in the corridors.

The 2007 FIBKA Conference opening ceremony

Tuesday 24th July

Patsy Bennett lecturing I was off to an early start at 9.00 O'clock, with Patsy Bennett's lecture about increasing stock numbers, this was followed after coffee, served cheerfully by a somewhat overworked Theresa, by a change to the opposite end of the campus for Eamon Magee's lecture on larval development at 11 am.

Simon's lunch After the usual wholesome meal I wanted to see Noel Power delivering his lecture on 'the occupants of the hive'. Noel has recently returned to lecturing after a 'lay off' of a few years, I had remembered his name from the mailing list of beekeeping catalogues that I used to send out when I was in the beekeeping equipment supply business.

The meals at Gormanston are not lavish, but neither are they poor quality... Simon Rees thought enough of his lunch tray to photograph it...

Tuesday was rounded off by two meetings The first of these was the meeting of BIBBA members, BIBBA is well represented in Ireland as there are strong affinities to native bees, (the climate helps a good deal in this). This particular meeting was not as well attended as previous ones as many of the BIBBA members also had commitments to other meetings and discussions being held at the same time. The meeting of overseas visitors, is an opportunity for the organizers to welcome those that have travelled further than most, with it's proximity to Ireland, the UK was quite well represented, but there was a notable contingent from Denmark.

Wednesday 25th July

The day started with a lecture from Patsy Bennett instead of the advertised one from Denis Horgan, who was unavailable. After a swiftly consumed can of diet coke in the shop that exists in the basement, it was back again to 'video room 2' for Margaret Thomas' lecture entitled "beekeeper's back" This subject having been her profession, the talk was graphic and well illustrated by plastic models of vertebrae.

Wednesday lunch is the time that we are all gathered together on the college steps to take part in the group photograph, a facsimile of which can be seen at right.

Prints of this photograph could be obtained from the Federation office during the conference for the small sum of €3.00 and I expect there are a few copies left.

The small portion of the image at larger scale shows that individuals can be made out, I have it in mind to discuss with the conference organisers, a system whereby suitably edited digital copies could be downloaded in future, for a similar fee, paid using the PayPal secure payment scheme (far safer than using a credit card).

  Group photo Gormanston 2007
Small portion of main Gormanston 2007 image

I spent the afternoon in the workshop stream watching the expert woodwork of John Donoghue as he made a BS Commercial brood box from scratch.

In the early evening I went to lecture hall 2, to observe the goings on at the FIBKA annual congress (their AGM). All I can say is that the politics of Irish beekeeping is similar to that in UK and I am glad not to be involved.

Our evening sojourn in the Cock Tavern was carried out in the company of Pam Hunter and Brian O'Dochartai.

Redmond leading the II workshop

Thursday 26th July

This morning was full, first I went to Simon Rees' lecture on antennae, an excellent one which he had hurriedly put together as Denis Horgan could not attend.

Second I went to the workshop on instrumental insemination, Redmond Williams was leading this and he is one of the world's most fastidious practitioners of this branch of beekeeping, I personally am quite involved in helping to educate people about the technique and help towards developing equipment and improved methods.

Redmond has a variety of microscopes available and the teaching version used here allows the addition of a TV camera, the output of which can be seen on a monitor, this is quite helpful in a situation where you have a larger audience than can actually cluster around the operator performing the task.

In addition to the TV image, you can see another image on the projection screen that shows a different view of the operation that is being performed, which again helps when numbers in the audience are high.

Thursday afternoon is when a coach trip is organised, but as this involves walking, I choose to rest. I did this in one of the leather clad settees that grace the 'new look' lounge.

Thursday evening Margaret Thomas gave a very detailed presentation on marketing hive products and we finished up in the Cock for a few Guinness. We arrived back at the college just as the social evening was breaking up.

Friday 27th July

This is a busy day if you are taking exams, but I am not involved in this, so I went to two lectures given by Margaret Thomas, one on Nuclei in the morning and the other on suburban beekeeping in the afternoon, the rest of my time on Friday was taken up with various meetings and discussions that were not on the scheduled program.

Friday evening was spent in the Cock as usual, in the company of Ben Harden, but unfortunately the supply of bottled Guinness ran out at about 10 pm... However Jamieson is a reasonable substitute and Ben recommends "Paddy's" as well.

Saturday 28th July

Breándon giving out the certificates We had a lectureship examination in the morning and then attended the closing ceremony and presentation of certificates gained by candidates in the various examination that are conducted, both at Gormanston and other locations throughout the year. Dr Breandán O'Cochláin is the education officer and is shown at right distributing the certificates.

Beekeeper of the year 2007, Sr. Cathrine Duffy

The Lectureship candidate was a young lady, Mrs. Lorraine McBride, who lives in County Antrim, Northern Ireland and has proved a quick learner... Having only taken four years to get from intermediate level to her current position.

Lorraine won two gold medals at Apimondia Ireland 2005 with two honey cakes and at Gormanston this year she won the new class for "All Ireland Supreme Honey", for which she received the Mary Moynihan Memorial trophy. She can be seen in the photographs below getting 'hands on' inseminating a queen.

On this occasion the award for 'Beekeeper of the Year' went to Sr. Catherine Duffy (left). Lunch is quickly followed by the coach leaving to take people to the airport, and this year I had managed to get a flight home that actually left on the Saturday, although not until late evening, Sandra Unwin (BIBBA groups Secretary) also had a similar delay before her flight left. We were both dropped off at Dublin airport by John Burgess, who was travelling home by ferry and so I spent the bulk of Saturday afternoon and evening in Sandra's company discussing various issues regarding the education beekeepers in the skills and techniques required for bee breeding (a subject close to both our hearts), while watching the various flights creep across the departures board. On arrival back at East Midlands I was picked up by one of our Leicestershire beekeepers and I arrived home about midnight, tired, but happy.

A Few Photos of 2007

Dave Cushman, Chris slade and Richie Moran
The two sisters that look after the shop John Donoghue, Photo... Simon Rees Margaret Thomas in mid flow
Eddie O'Sullivan, course manager Mick Woulfe, course convener Michael Woulfe and Micheael Gleeson
Father and son getting their certificates Mother and Daughter, both get certificates
Awaiting the wind up session Panel of lectureship examiners Animated lecturing from Margaret Thomas
Audience for closing ceremony
The outdoor clock chiming bell The onsite church
Margaret Thomas lecturing on Hive Products Another View of the hive products lecture
The equipment suppliers on site can satisfy you beekeeping needs The colonies awaiting the attentions of beginners
Mick Woulfe, Graham Hall and Eddie O'Sullivan, Photo... Sandra Unwin
Queen in cage and using microscope, Photo... Ruary Rudd Bea Flavin Dunphy and Redmond Williams, Photo... Ruary Rudd
Queen being inseminated by Lorraine McBride, Photo... Ruary Rudd Park Beekeeping Open Mesh Floor, Photo... John Burgess
Tim chatting up the girls, Photo... John Burgess Fingertip precision, Photo... John Burgess
John Donoghue, precision workmanship, Photo... John Burgess Measure twice, Cut once !, Photo... John Burgess Simon, lecturing on Von Frish, Photo... John Burgess

Next Year

Sue Cobey at Stoneleigh, Photo... Sandra Unwin The 2008 Gormanston Summer School will be starting on Monday July 21st and runs to Saturday July 26th, when the guest lecturer will be Susan Cobey.

For details and booking 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

A combination of increasing numbers attending and rooms being upgraded there are fewer beds available than there was before. You are advised to book early (now is not too soon) Send a deposit of €50 or more to Michael to ensure your place. I made my deposit for 2008 before I left the 2007 gathering and I know a great many others did so to be certain of their place next year. This year's residential bookings were only 24 short of maximum possible capacity, take heed and get your foot in the door early, as I fear some will be disappointed next year.

Further information has released, the web page for Gormanston 2008 is already live with links to the Brochure, Reservation form and how to get there. Sadly since the 2007 event Clare Chavasse has passed away and an appreciation of her beekeeping lecturing can be read here

This page has actually been validated by W3C