Kilkenny adopts black-and-amber bumblebee as 'County Insect'

Councillor hopes others will follow, suggesting a black and red Burnet Moth for County Down or a Blue Dasher Dragonfly for Dublin

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



The meeting also heard from Peter Walsh of Mooncoin, who has been a beekeeper since 1958, and spoke passionately about the role of pollinators

Kilkenny has adopted the humble black-and-amber bumblebee as its ‘county insect’ in a move hailed as a first for Ireland.

It means that Kilkenny County Council will adopt the bee as an ‘emblem’ of sorts, incorporating it into signage and promotional material to help increase awareness of the importance of bees and efforts to support them.

The initiative was proposed by Green Party councillor Malcolm Noonan, and co-sponsored by Fine Gael councillor Pat Dunphy  at the July meeting of Kilkenny County Council. It's part of a broader proposal to embed the protection and conservation of biodiversity in council activities, which was supported by other councillors present.

The meeting also heard from Peter Walsh of Mooncoin, who has been a beekeeper since 1958, and spoke passionately about the role of pollinators. Mr Walsh recounted how, back in 2016, he lost half of his hives.

“I thought that the whole thing was going to collapse,” he said, impressing upon members the importance of bees to the environment, food production, and life in general.

At the meeting, councillors also agreed to adopt the National Pollinator Plan, with a Kilkenny specific plan of action for the period 2018/2019 to support the development of pollinator friendly locations around the county. The local authority will now map and sign those areas already being managed in a way to support pollinators and will develop new areas as pollinator-friendly spaces.

Cllr Malcolm Noonan welcomed the support from colleagues.

“I am delighted that my proposal has been adopted by Kilkenny County Council, but now the real work begins,” he said.

“We adopted a local authority Pollinator Plan with this proposal and I have asked that as well as using this lovely black and amber bee as our county insect, that we track our activities towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that across all sections of council activities, we ensure the conservation, enhancement, protection and creation of habitats for bumblebees and invertebrates.”

Cllr Noonan said that the scale of biodiversity loss globally over the past 40 years was ‘frightening’. The Green Party councillor is also hoping that other counties will follow suit in adopting a county insect, suggesting, for example the black and red Burnet Moth for County Down, or a Blue Dasher Dragonfly for Dublin.

“I am hopeful that with the designation of the first counties will take up this initiative,” he said.

“ Local authorities are best placed to lead pollinator plans within their own communities and the tidy towns movement is making incredible progress in this regard. But for now, I am hopeful that County Kilkenny will lead the way in turning the fortunes of the plight of the bumblebee."