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HSE hospital prevents swallows from accessing nest
24 April 2009

The swallows that reach Ireland every spring have completed an epic journey. During their 9,500 km flight from South Africa, they travel over three desserts, across the Meditteranean Sea and through showers of bullets from heartless hunters in Southern Europe. Millions die along the way but those who successfully reach our shores in March and April are welcomed as a harbinger of summer and believed to bring good luck to wherever they nest.

Swallows that touched down in Mullingar this month, however, found that they were wholly unwelcome. A nest constructed by the birds in a HSE hospital building has been totally covered by a net. The swallows, seen flying in an agitated state around the grounds of the hospital, have been prevented from accessing their nest.

Citing "health and safety", a spokesperson for the hospital told ICABS that the net over the nest would remain in place. A photo showing the net around the nest (which is in a non-patient area) can be seen on the ICABS website

The swallows' nest covered with a net at St Loman's Hospital, Mullingar


Ann Masterson
St. Loman's Hospital
Delvin Road, Mullingar
Co. Westmeath

Email: (with a copy to
Tel: 044 9384314

Dear Ms Masterson,

I was saddened to learn that your hospital has prevented swallows from accessing their nest at the Lough Sheever Centre at St Loman's Hospital in Mullingar.

These birds have completed an epic journey of 9,500 km from South Africa, travelling over three deserts, across the Mediterranean Sea and through showers of bullets from heartless hunters in Southern Europe. Their feat is one of the greatest in nature and they deserve respect and admiration - not a net across their nest.

I understand that 'health and safety' concerns are being cited as the reason for the net. Perhaps St Loman's would consider showing kindness towards the birds and adopt a more humane approach. If bird droppings are a problem, newspapers could be placed on the ground. Alternatively, a simple wooden platform could be constructed below the nest to catch the droppings. Rubber-backed, non-slip mats could also be placed in the small area where the nest is located.

I hope that you can show compassion and act swiftly to have the net removed and allow the birds back in to their nest.

Thank you. I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

[ Your Name and Location ]

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