Wild Heritage 



Pic  A Of Leisler’s Bat






Bats make up a quarter of our Worlds Mammal species and account for a quarter of Ireland’s land mammals. Mammals, including our species, have a covering of hair or fur, are warm blooded and suckle their young until they are independent

All 977 recorded Bat species on Earth are “true” flying mammals.

All 9 Irish Bat species have their stronghold in our warmer wetter Southwest – and Uibh Laoire’s  fly-rich  cattle country hosts 8 out of 9,  according to current research.

Whether  NATHUSIUS’ PIPISTRELLE Bat- itself a scarce Irish  resident and migrant to and from Europe – occurs in our Parish Catchment  remains to be confirmed. This is our smallest bat – fitting easily into a matchbox – and though very similar to Uibh Laoire’s widespread  and abundant COMMON PIPISTRELLE  and SOPRANO PIPISTRELLE, our NATUSIUS’ call can be heard by human ears.





Picture B Soprano Pipistrelle


All 3 pipistrelles are among the first to emerge at dusk- They play a crucial role in controlling insect populations- particularly the crop pests.

During a single “night patrol”, our Pipistrelles devour over 3,000 midges and mosquitoes. Readers may recall that the malaria-carrying mosquito has been identified in Adare, Co. Limerick recently. As our Summers become progressively wetter and hotter as a result of Climate Change, new insects hitherto unknown are reaching Ireland. Bats hugely lessen  the incidence of malaria in animals (especially humans) globally.

Uibh Laoire’s surviving expanse of natural and semi–natural wilderness – connecting the Gearagh (to the east) with the Shehy uplands by field boundary and roadside hedgerow and by scores of miles of fresh watercourses – provide invaluable habitat for Ireland’s additional bat species

DAUBENTON’S  (Otherwise Water Bat) flutters above water like a hover craft – grabbing insects off the water with it’s big feet. This “ internationally important” species is widespread in our Parish.

NATTERER’S BAT, with an Irish population of less than 1,000, continues to be recorded commuting and foraging across farmland and along hedge – rich lanes and boreens – notably on the edges and verges of the remnant oak woods and scattered scrub-lands in the Toon Valley most notably in Cooleen and Cloonshear east to Toonsbridge. This species is described as “threatened” and is strictly protected from persecution or disturbance – including “accidental killing”. Extreme vigilance is required of the Forest Service in its management regimes, consequently.

Our WHISKERED BAT species, with an Irish population reduced to its hundreds, occurs in the Parish but remains little studied and little known. It has been recorded hunting during the dead of night in the company of Pipistrelles. Surveying and Site Conservation measures are laid down in Duchas’ Red Data Book for this species.




picture C of Brown long-eared Bats Roosting in Old Roof spaces. Attics and Barn conversions threaten this species.









Our  BROWN LONG-EARED BAT with it’s ears as long as it’s body (making it the easiest of our species to identify) catches moths by hearing them fly by. It is described as “common” in the Lee Catchment but is “internationally important”.

Our LESSER HORSHOE BAT, on the brink of extinction in Europe, weighing 8 grams, has its largest population in the Southwest of Ireland and occurs at a number of sites in the Parish. Because of its “endangered” and “declining” status, (there are about 12,000 in the island of Ireland), the E.U. require S.A.C. designation (Special Area of Conservation) throughout theEuropean Union. Roosts of Lesser Horseshoe occur within rocky crevices and caves in the old red sandstones to the north of the Parish. O.A.P. (Old Age Pension) Trees and dead Trees and ivy clad old Ash, Scots Pine and Oak are vital to this species. When it comes to bats, “dead trees” ought not to be seen as “gone trees”. In Germany and Sweden, dead trees are retained as S.S.S.I. (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) and are protected. Important Colonies of Lesser Horseshoe Bats have been noted south of Lough Allua and in the Cleanrath – Renannree- Doire Airgead (Silvergrove) triangle. In one instance the roost has taken up permanent residence in a long abandoned farm building.

Our largest species, The LEISLER’S BAT has a body measurement of 50m.m. and again Ireland is its European stronghold – its “Dún Aengus” as it were. Leisler’s can be identified because they emerge first in early dusk – ahead of the Pipistrelles – and because it flies fast and direct. On occasion, its sonar frequency drops briefly to within our human range. They fly at 40 mph. high over the tree canopy, over 10 mile radius from roost – sites and feed mainly on dung – flies. Cleanrath Lake and other large open water-bodies provide good opportunities for observation of our Leisler’s bat. They have taken a strong fancy to the modern house which they quit in late Autumn, having transferred to their winter quarters. Another vantage point is to stand on a bridge – where there is lush waterside vegetation harbouring insects.







The year of Uibh Laoire’s Bats



HIBERNATE,         individually or in small groups (not in houses)



Bats hungry and active –

move roost sites




Females in large maternity groups (sometimes in roofs)


Young born & suckled for 6 weeks

Mothers quit maternity roost – young quit later



Mating – Putting on fat.

Looking for Winter sites

Gradually becoming torpid- approaching “pilot flame” mode










Befriending Uibh Laoire’ Bat Population

Below are 2 recommended Batbox designs-best placed between 10 and 15 feet above ground in woodland – or affixed to isolated trees along field-boundaries not in full sun and facing southwest.

Internal dimensions must not be less than 4”x 4” x 4” so as to accommodate up to 50 bats.

 Do not treat the wood with preservative – avoid veneered timber – the rougher the internal texture the better. Plane the external to reduce weathering. Never use copper nails to affix the boxes to trees.




diagrams D here; Bat Boxes







Bats offer little or no evidence of their occupation. Old and hollow trees, caves, rock crevices, mines, soutterrains, tombs, ivied old structures and walls, bridges – all represent potential roost – sites. Look out for dark stains of droppings around windows; behind facia boards; between soffits and walls or on trees.

Bats have ravenous appetites (thanks be to goodness) - horse-flies are a delicacy – a 7 gram Daubenton’s bat, after one hour will weigh in at 12 grams. From dusk till dawn, from early Spring to late Autumn they devour all of our native (18) mosquito species; spiders; beetles; daddy-long-legs (leather jackets); caddis fly; mayfly; stone-fly; earwig; large moths and midget- among others.



Our bats emit high – pitched  sounds – beyond our range. We have noted Nathusius’ as an exception – and rarely our Leisler’s

Just as we produce pictures using vision, bats produce pictures using sound. Bat’s eyes are well developed but they have evolved powerful hearing and smelling as well. Newer models of Bat Detector are coming on market – these devices (hand-held) transform inaudible hunting sounds into “squeaks and buzzes”- the device records the sound frequency. So 55 kHz tells us it’s a Soprano Bat – 45 kHz tells us it’s a Common Pipistrelle. In the case of Brown long-eared species, an extremely shy and quiet organism, the detector must be within 2 meters of the emission.




picture E of Common Pipistrelle







Bats undergo complex body changes to enable them survive without food or water for several months – from November their body temperature reduces from 37˚c to sometimes 0˚c; heart beat drops from several  hundred per minute to around 7 or 8 beats. One local Wildlife enthusiast stated – “If I had waited for half an hour, it might have taken one small breath”.

Having mated in Autumn, the female keeps the sperm inside her until Springtime – she then ovulates and commences gestation.

Biological “anti-freeze” in the bat’s plasma protects the hibernating bat from freezing solid in Winter. Because it requires between 15 and 30 minutes for hibernating bats to raise heartbeat from around 8 to 238 beats per minute, if disturbed they will ingest precious fat reserves and will not survive the winter.

Alaska University has identified and isolated this “Chemical Active” found in the blood plasma of deeply hibernating animals – experiments are on – going on suspending the normal ageing process of our Astronauts. (Our closest star-neighbour is 4.3 light years from Earth – i.e. travelling at the speed of light).

A more pressing use for this “chemical” found in our bats is as a preservative of human organs (heart, kidney and lungs) – current methods can be extended three-fold, thus facilitating the search for suitably matched recipients.


Pic F – Lesser Horseshoe Bat – top, on it’s night patrol in woodland. Bottom – under slates in an abandoned out house. 



Cork Bat Group Secretary Conor Kelleher was asked by this writer what his main concerns for Uibh Laoire’s bat population were; -

1.      Bats travel and hunt along hedgerows – the avenues and wildlife corridors between woods and water – heath and farmyard – hayfield and roost. The loss of hedgerow – even a 10 metre stretch – can narrow the genetic reservoir i.e. disrupt the ancient flightpaths.

2.      Over use of Ivermectin doses in livestock has resulted in an absence of “living muck heaps” for target insects. Many veterinary products continue to be active (residual) and present problems for the receiving environment via dungs – up to 2 years later.

3.      Intolerance – the result of centuries of conditioned fear. “Our bats have been depicted as evil, harmful creatures, Fantasy urgently needs to be replaced by measures that will protect and conserve Ireland’s bats”.

 (Kate McAney – Duchas 1996)


Readers are invited to contact this writer and share information on the whereabouts of Bat Roosts in Uibh Laoire, with a view to tracking, recording and mapping their presence for the purposes of feeding into Co. Cork’s Bio-diversity Action Plan; sharing the data with Coilte Teo., and providing a central component in the development of Uibh Laoire’s embryonic Eco-Tourism. For those that have a “meas” on bats and their vital contribution to our human well-being, plant their favoured native climbing shrubs go leor – the Honeysuckle.

I would like to dedicate this article to my friend,

the late Peter Creedon, Cooleen, Kilbarry.


                                                                        Ted Cook

(Ted Cook is a Heritage Specialist employed by The Heritage Council and I.N.T.O. Partnership and will gladly visit any Primary School, if invited. Contact him c/o Kilbarry Post Office, Macroom, Co. Cork)


If you want more information on bats contact

Conor Kelleher, Cork Bat Group Secretary, Cork County Bat Group, "Northants", Spring Lane, Carrigagulla, Ballinagree, Macroom, Co. Cork.

Telephone: 021-7339247 or Mobile: 087-2980297

or visit