Exciting line-up for public lecture series in Killarney

From the migration of salmon and threats to the curlew, to the history of Valentia Cable Station and Killarney House, the Autumn Talks Series will have something for everyone.

Stephen Fernane

The stunning surrounds of Killarney House will again host the annual 'Autumn Talks Series', which runs from October 4 to November 8. Now in its 35th year, the lecture series initially started out in Muckross House before moving to various hotels in Killarney town centre. But since 2017 it has found a host in The Garden Room of Killarney House, which will stage the event for a second year.

The talks encapsulate various aspects of local heritage, culture and conservation, generating a cross-section of interest for the public. The speakers are experts in their respective fields and, over the decades, each lecture has attracted a loyal following. The Autumn Talks Series also attracts the attention of local schools, whose pupils may have an interest in a particular topic under discussion as part of their curriculum. Among this year's contributors are Professor Tom Cross, whose lecture is entitled: 'The Salmon: A Species Under Threat'. This takes place this Thursday evening, October 4, and will be of interest to anglers across the county as Prof Cross has studied the habits and migratory patterns of salmon since 1967. 

Professor of Zoology in UCC prior to his retirement, he is now Emeritus Professor and  continues to research the genetic structure of wild Atlantic salmon and its management implications. He is particularly interested in interactions between wild salmon and farm escapes, an issue which threatens wild populations.

On Thursday, October 11, Dr Barry O'Donoghue discusses 'Curlews In Crisis: Could we really lose the Curlew from Ireland?  Dr O'Donoghue has worked extensively on ecology and conservation, with a strong emphasis on preserving Hen Harrier numbers. This lecture will discuss the curlew, whose nesting in upland areas is currently a cause of concern.  With a strong background in farming and nature conservation in the Stack's Mountains, Dr O'Donoghue is responsible for the Agri-Ecology Unit of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.  In 2017 he established the 'Curlew Conservation Programme' for the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

On Thursday, October 18, Michael Lyne will give a talk about the 'Valentia Trans-Atlantic Cable Project'. The story of Valentia as a forerunner to transatlantic communication never ceases to attract public interest.  Mr Lyne is the current chairman of Valentia Island Dev Co Ltd and is also a director of Valentia Island Transatlantic Cable Foundation. Their mission is that Valentia and the Transatlantic Cable be designated as a World Unesco Communication Site because of the contribution of the cable to the advancement and development of world communications in 1866.

On October 25, Dr Rory Harrington will give a lecture on 'The Integrated Constructed Wetlands Concept (ICW)'. Over the past 30 years Mr Harrington has pioneered the 'Integrated Constructed Wetland' concept which is used to sustainably treat a wide range of polluted water sources, including municipal waste water; landfill and mining leachate; animal and industrial wastewater; and farm-yard soiled water.

On November 1, 'Restoration Works on Killarney House' will form the focus of Niall Parsons' discussion. Mr Parsons is a Senior Architect in the Office of Public Works and was the project architect on the restoration of Killarney House. Concluding the lecture series on November 8 is 'Where are all the Insects Gone?' by Dr Juanita Browne.  Dr Browne coordinates implementation of the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan working with councils, community groups, schools and individuals. Her background is in communications, specialising in natural history documentaries, books and wildlife and heritage magazines.  Admission to all lectures is free and each lecture starts at 8pm sharp.