Minister Madigan launches World Curlew Day 2020
- Iconic artist Don Conroy teams up with conservationists for special YouTube art show
- Dedicated World Curlew Day – Ireland Facebook page to encourage children to learn about the Curlew
Iconic Irish artist and presenter Don Conroy has teamed up with the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht’s National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to promote World Curlew Day 2020, taking place today, April 21st.
The much-loved environmentalist will be showcasing his Curlew artwork and talking about the endangered bird on his newly-launched YouTube channel.
Children around the country are asked to create their own drawings and paintings of the cherished Curlew based on Don’s creation and send them to the World Curlew Day Ireland Facebook page, which will also feature a host of Curlew-inspired fun.
Josepha Madigan, T.D., Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, launching this year’s event, said: “This is a great opportunity to combine youth, creativity, nature and conservation and I’m really looking forward to the outcome of these collaborations. The work of the National Parks and Wildlife Service will return this beautiful bird to our countryside, its song to our air and, through this initiative, to the sketchbooks and notepads of the younger generation.”
Don Conroy said: “I take great joy in seeing children learn about nature through art. The Curlew is certainly one of the most identifiable birds we have in Ireland, with its big long bill and long legs and that magical call when it opens its mouth. It is tragic to think the bird is almost extinct as a breeding species here.
“I hope this video will inspire the next generation to learn about our Curlew and inspire their parents to ensure the Curlew will still be there for their children to enjoy.”
The Curlew is an important part of our island’s heritage, linking us directly to our grandparents’ time and the many generations beyond. Launched in 2018, World Curlew Day raises awareness of the Curlew’s status at home and abroad, and is celebrated in countries including Britain, France and Australia.
Since the late 1980s there has been a 97pc decline in Curlew numbers in Ireland and in the past decade alone there has been a 34pc decline. World Curlew Day brings together environmentalists and the public alike as one to keep the Curlew in our skies for generations to come.
In Ireland, the Curlew Conservation Programme, which was established in 2017 to help this much-loved bird, sees locally based teams of advisors, champions and nest protection officers, working closely with landowners and other local interests, to protect nesting attempts and to improve habitat quality.
Our cultural links with the Curlew – with its distinctive long legs and long curved bill – are very strong. Its calls, described as “plaintive”, “haunting”, “bubbling”, “cry” and “the very essence of wild Ireland”, are renowned.
Dances, songs and a long line of writings – including from WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney – feature, or were inspired by, the Curlew. We are at a seminal moment however, whereby we now have a generation that fondly remember the Curlew as a soundtrack to their summers but also a generation that may never grow up to know what a Curlew looks or sounds like.
It is essential that local landowners and communities are involved in the continued story of Curlew; it has been a relationship for thousands of years and there should be a future to this relationship too.
“Of all bird songs or sounds known to me there is none that I would prefer than the spring notes of the Curlew…The notes do not sound passionate they suggest peace, rest, healing joy, an assurance of happiness past, present and to come. To listen to Curlews on a bright, clear April day, with the fullness of spring still in anticipation, is one of the best experiences that a lover of birds can have.” – Edward Grey
Notes to editors:
Don Conroy’s channel address: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo4dO9D4okn25M6mvfB02rQ