June 2019

We were overjoyed when we learned that we were the overall winners of this year’s Eco Tribes competition with an unbelievable score 99%! We were delighted all our hard work paid off and we are really thankful to everyone who helped us with our project. The judges were very impressed and we officially made history as no other Eco Tribes winner has ever scored 99%!! 

This is our 7th Eco Tribes project! The theme this year was herbs. We discussed all the different ways that herbs can be used – culinary, pollinating and medicinal uses. We couldn’t narrow it down, so we decided to focus on all three uses! We have 21 types of herbs in our project and almost 90 plants/herbs planted in our containers. You can find out some information about the different herbs at the bottom of the page. Benedicta was a great help showing us the different ways herbs could be used!


We focused on Mexican, Italian and French herbs. We researched the herbs used in each country and then set to work thinking about recipes we could make to serve on the night of our Eco Tribes event. We are really thankful to all the parents (and grandparents!) who helped us cook and bake the yummy treats! We had something from each country including: tacos and chilli con carne from Mexico; Coc Au Vin from France; and pizza and pasta from Italy. Our pollinating group even baked some yummy honey treats! We decided to design a recipe pamphlet for the night with some of the recipes so that anyone who attended could try them out at home! 

Pollinating Group

Our Pollinating group used all the knowledge we learned from Martin during our gardening work and put it to good use! Ross suggested making a bee pollinating unit to help our herbs grow. Martin was only too delighted to help us out and before we knew it we had a brand new station for our Eco Tribes site! We researched herbs that would be particularly good for bees, butterflies and other minibeasts. We then had a great idea…. what about using the stones we had collected at Sea Bank during a clean up session to decorate our Eco Tribes site? We set to work painting and varnishing and they turned out fantastic!

Medicinal Group

This group had the hardest task but did a superb job! They researched herbs that were used for lots of different reasons. These included ginger for coughs; lavender for relaxation and stress relief and herbal teas. Our medicinal group also worked very hard to write one of our songs and managed to include most of the herbs!

What did Eco Tribes involve in 2019?

We spoke to Mary and Mr Mulligan from the Tidy Towns Committee to find a suitable place in the village for our project. We decided on the site behind the Pharmacy because it was somewhere that every child in the school passes when they are walking to school and we wanted everyone to see our handy work! 

The site was overgrown with weeds and needed some major TLC! We wrote a list of all the possible things we could do to enhance the site. This included:

  • asking James, the owner of Centra, for permission to work there
  • asking Tidy Towns to help clear and weed the site
  • asking the Dundalk Men’s Shed if they could help us build our herb garden
  • asking Martin, who helped us with our Incredible Edible Garden this year, had he any ideas about what we could do – he had plenty! He made fabulous tiered herb boxes and a bee watering station to encourage bees to visit our herb garden!
  • making sure we had people who could help us assemble all the fabulous work from Martin and the Men’s Shed – thanks to Declan and Dave who used every tool imaginable to assemble our herb garden. Dave and Declan also were so impressed with the Men’s Shed herb garden they built a second one for us!
  • we contacted V&W Recycling to ask about using their wonderful compost again and Mary Murtagh from Tidy Towns to see if she could source some topsoil. Now we had soil to plant our herbs in! Jason and Frank, our school caretakers, filled all the boxes with soil – ready for us to plant!
  • asking parents and family members to help us prepare food that included Mexican, Italian or French herbs that we could have to eat on the night – our tummies rumble every time we think of all the yummy food!
  • contacting Benedicta, our plant and herb expert, to provide us with information about the herbs we would use. We took a trip out to different garden centres in search of the ideal herbs. We ended up with over 21 different types of herbs – including culinary, pollinating and medicinal herbs. In total, we think we had approximately 90 plants!
  • We would need entertainment on the night and that’s where DJ Dave came to the rescue again! He organised the PA system and music for the night.

Who helped us?

Denise and Orlagh were an amazing help during the whole process! They helped us paint and varnish everything…at one stage we worried if we stood still long enough Denise would paint or varnish us! Eoghan and Oisín’s mum Michelle also helped us paint and varnish and provided some of the paint we needed for our project.

We can’t thank Declan, Martin and Dave enough for helping to assemble everything down at the site. It looked fantastic! We really appreciated the cube units from the Men’s Shed and when we added the painted pebbles we couldn’t believe how wonderful it all looked! Jason and Frank were a great help, filling our boxes with soil.

But the real superstars of the show were….us! Ms O’Rourke said from the very beginning that it would be 3rd Class in charge and she was right. We took charge of designing invitations, making banners and flags and creating our Eco Tribes board. Ms O’Rourke asked us to write a song for the Eco Tribes night but we don’t do anything by halves and we wrote three!!! We will record them on the night of the event and add them here. Ms Lynch and Ms O’Rourke are so proud of all the work that we have put into planning our event. 

The Event

Our next step was to prepare for our event night. We decided as a class how the night would run and organised lots of different activities. Again, we made lists! Ms. O’Rourke reminded us it was our project, so all the ideas came from us. It was a LOT of responsibility….but we rose to the challenge!

  • Food: we organised food for the night, with the help of our parents. Matthew’s mum Kelly was a wonderful help organising the containers and utensils. 
  • Music: DJ Dave to the rescue!
  • Tables: we asked Ms. Lynch for the school display tables to use for our food
  • Decorations: we were busy as bees and made banners, bunting, recipe books and invitations
  • Songs: we wrote a rap to chant on our march to our Eco Tribes site….but we didn’t stop there! We also wrote a song that we performed on the night for everyone. We even had some poetry from one of our groups. 
  • Factfiles: we worked on factfiles and mini projects about each part of our project and displayed them in school.


So…what did we learn about herbs?

We researched the herbs ourselves but Benedicta provided us with a LOT of information. We appreciated all the work she did to research all the different uses for herbs. 

  1. Lavender – can be used for cooking, baths, oils, stress relief. In Mexico they use lavender to grill kebabs – the stem is bitter. It is also used in hand creams. Lavender has been called the The Herb of Harmony.  Lavender flower tea can reduce anxiety, tension and headaches. Used as a skin wash it can clean wounds and stimulate tissue repair. Lavender tea also reduces fevers, and encourages sweating to eliminate toxins. Lavender can also be seeped into bath water to restore a sense of calmness.
  2. Spearmint – this is used in toothpaste and mouthwash and, as Donnacha pointed out, in chewing gum for fresh breath! It is also a popular herbal tea.
  3. Thyme – this is a member of the mint family and smells lovely! It’s used in a bouquet garnet and brings fabulous flavours to meals. Particularly stews. It retains its flavour and infuses sauces.
  4. Mint – ccan be used in cold tomato soup and also in hot pea soup (Benedicta said this was particularly yummy!). Tony pointed out it’s also used in ice-cream.
  5. Marjoram – it is usually contained in dried herb mixes. It is particularly popular in French cooking and can be used for sausages and lamb. Apparently it’s also used in shaving lotions and soaps! 
  6. Parsley – used in every day cooking, either during the cooking process or as a garnish. Benedicta called this herb a “powerhouse” as it’s amazing for most things! It’s a great source of iron and potassium and there’s a delicious drink made using parsley and cucumber that she told us about. To give it an added kick, you could add lemon and ginger. It’s also a good anti-inflammatory.
  7. Coriander – is used during cooking. We have some recipes from our class using this herb.
  8. Chives – can be used in pizzas, bruschetta, bread. We chose a garlic flavoured variety for our herb beds.
  9. Rosemary – bees love this herb! It is great for all purposes as it’s used for cooking (particularly lamb), muscle aches and pains and it even improves your  memory! The flowers of rosemary are edible and can be used in salads and on top of desserts. The leaf is often used to flavour savory dishes. A sprig of rosemary can also be made into a tea, which when strained and consumed, eases pain, aids fat digestion, and can be used in a bath for aching joints and rheumatic pains. Rosemary infused in hot water can also be used as an antiseptic throat gargle. Rosemary also stimulates memory and alertness. Matthew Kieran’s mum used this herb (as well as parsley and thyme) to make a wonderfully fragrant herb wreath.
  10. Lemon Balm – this was Ms O’Rourke, Orlagh and Denise’s favourite as it smells unbelievably good! It is great for de-stressing and is used in scented candles. Lemon Balm tea is a tonic for the nervous system. It can alleviate tension, anxiety and exhaustion. It’s nickname is Be Happy,  as it helps to reduce stress and promote a sense of calm.
  11. Rocket – great for salads and cooking and goes really well with mushrooms! 
  12. Fennel – we have a lovely bronze variety in our beds, hopefully you can spot it when you visit! It’s particularly good for cooking sausages and chicken. The seeds are particularly good for medicinal purposes. Fennel tea can be used for indigestion, heartburn and weight loss.  Cold fennel tea is also a useful  eyewash for tired eyes. It may also prove to be helpful to relieve fluid retention. Fennel tea was once used by Greek marathon runners, as it acts as a tonic for strength and vigor containing iron, vitamins A, C, and E and zinc.
  13. Borage – Martin delivered seven of his own borage plants for our garden as bees LOVE them! They have a wonderful blue flower. The distinctive blue flowers of borage are edible and can be sprinkled on to salads, savoury dishes and desserts. The young leaves of this plant can be be eaten in salads, and taste like cucumber. The saying “borage for courage” symbolises its strengthening of the adrenal gland which helps to reduce fear and stress. Borage tea can relieve fatigue and help increase energy levels. This herb is also a natural anti-inflammatory.
  14. Combination of BBQ Gold – this was a brilliant find by Benedicta! It containd a combination of herbs that were ideal for BBQs – sage, lemon thyme and oregano. They smelled delicious!
  15. Salvia – again Benedicta brought a wonderful herb. It’s a perennial (which means it will bloom every year) and it looks wonderful. It’s very popular in Mexico and is similar to sage.
  16. Bay – this can be used in oils, to cook hams and stews and infuse meat. It can also be used in tomato sauce.
  17. Rudbeckia, also called Black Eyed Susan – great medicinal use, particularly for earaches. 
  18. Oregano – probably one of the best known herbs! It can be used on lots of different things, but is particularly popular in Italy.
  19. Sage – great for memory issues, high in lots of viatmins (including vitamin B6, iron, calcium). It is also a great herb for people who have Diabetes. 
  20. Curry herb – it is strong smelling and used for perfumes and tastes very bitter, so is not used in curries!
  21. Pizza herb – a mixture of oregano, basil and thyme. 


So, as you can see, we learned SO much about herbs from Benedicta. All our hard work with Martin during our Incredible Edible Garden paid off as we were able to plant the herbs properly and knew how best to protect the roots and make sure the plants had the best chance of survival. 

We are extremely proud of our wonderful herb garden and we hope that everyone in our village loves it as much as we do!

23rd May 2019 – Our Eco Tribes Event!

We had put in so much work for our event on the 23rd of May. On the night we delivered yummy treats to our Eco Tribes site where Declan and Audrey were waiting. There was that much food that we needed to send for another table! We had tacos, chilli con carne, nachos, garlic bread, pizza, crackers and herbs, non-alcoholic mojitos and lots more! David and Catherine Caraher supplied a gazebo as we were worried the weather was not in our favour. DJ Dave was on hand with the music, which really set the mood!

We met at Mulligan’s and marched behind our banner chanting our new slogan 

B-L-A-C-K-T-H-O-R-N-S! We are the Blackthorns, oh yeah… Fighting for a clean world, oh yeah!

The village came to a standstill!

Once we arrived at our site we got straight to work and sang our first song, composed by Deirbhile, Jaymee and Sophie. It covered lots of information about herbs and their uses and was very catchy. Ms Lynch then welcomed everyone and told them to BEE prepared as we were going to create a BUZZ. Then it was our turn to steal the show with our group information sessions!

Up first was the Mexican group (Naomi, Padraig, Tony, Daisy, Lee, Matthew, Donnacha and Derbhla).

Next it was our Italian group (Éinín, Eoghan, Oisín, Ryan, Thomas and Tighearnach).

Our third group were the French group (Matthew, Mark, Seán, Grace, Jamie and Oisín).

Our fourth group focused on pollination (Aoibhín, Tatiana, Ross, Paul and Ryan).

Lastly, we had our medicinal group (Deribhile, Sophie and Jaymee).

Deirbhile invited everyone to have a taste of the delicious food. It was wonderful to see so many options and it was a credit to the parents and children who worked so hard to bake and cook so many delicious delicacies. Dave provided some brilliant Italian, French and Mexican music as our background.

Up next we had our “Ross Rap” where we listed off lots of different herbs. Mark then set everyone a challenge to investigate our new herb garden and see how many of the 21 varieties of herbs they could find. The class did a wonderful job explaining all the different uses for herbs in the beds. Lemon Balm was the clear favourite for lots of different parents.

Ms Lynch called us all back together to say thank you to all the different people involved in making our night and project so successful. These included: James, the owner of Centra; Benedicta for teaching us all about the 21 different types of herbs we planted; Kelly, our secretary, who helped us at every single step of the process; Willie from VW Recycling for the compost donation; Ardee Tidy Towns for helping source the topsoil; Dromiskin Tidy Towns, especially Mary Murtagh, for helping us clear the site and their support and advice throughout the project; Orlagh and Denise for all their work painting and varnishing and Michelle Oakes for lending a hand; Martin for teaching us all about bees and herbs and building our tiered herb boxes; Dave and Declan, our dynamic duo, who made a second planter unit and basically were at our beck and call throughout the entire project; parents who made dishes for the night; the children (us!) for working so hard to bring everything together; and finally Ms. Lynch thanked our teacher, Ms. O’Rourke, for all her hard work. 

Liam Reilly spoke briefly on behalf of Dromiskin Tidy Towns to thank everyone from the community for their support and help. Willie from VW Recycling also spoke and said how he really enjoyed the night and was honoured to be included in the project. 

Then it was back to the stars of the show – us! We had one final song before we finished up. What a night!!!!