Swans on the South Slob

We can gain a new perspective from stories containing humour, history and anecdote in the folklore gathered by the Irish Schools’ Collection of the 1930s, now held in the National Folklore Collection.



Whooper Swans, Leicestershire
This is a recording of calls uttered by whooper swans. The whooper is one of two species of swan which visit Britain during the winter, the other being the Bewick's swan. Although similar to the Bewick, the whooper is larger, with a more upright...
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Wexford and its slobs were walled off from the harbour and reclaimed from the sea in the 1840s, forming a polderland that has become a hotspot for biodiversity. The North Slob is now home to the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, 200 hectares of flat farmland that are a Special Protection Area (SPA). Known for the migratory Greenland White-fronted Goose population, the slobs also host a population of Irish Whooper Swans.

This Irish Schools Survey entry - collected by Vivienne Roberts, age 11, of Wexford town - attests to the early history of swans taking up residence in the lands surrounding the South Slob and the railway line that cuts across it from Dublin to Rosslare Harbour and the port:

The low lying round Wexford Harbour is the haunt of hundreds of wild sea birds. The train to Rosslare Strand runs across the South Slob and in the early summer it is quite usual to see a swan and her brood of signets swimming in one of the canals which drain the slob. In fact about three years ago the swan could be seen sitting on the nest amongst the rushes while her mate kept watch near by. Swans are very wicked when hatching and would beat off intruders with their big strong wings.

When they are flying the music of their wings can be heard a long way off. They usually seem fly in odd numbers three or four or even seven and they go from slop up over the harbour and the river to Ferry Carrig.

This passage is a reminder of the inadvertant effect of the engineering, pumping and land reclamation that created the Wexford slobs. Today, they are vibrant and teeming with birdlife.