A bird in the hand for Cork festival goers

Samantha Murphy from the Birds of Prey centre at Trabolgan talks about the upcoming It Takes a Village festival
A bird in the hand for Cork festival goers
Sam Murphy from Ravenstone Bird Control, patrols Cork City dump early in the morning with "Oscar" her European Eagle Owl. Photograph: Fran Veale

Tell us about yourself;

My name is Samantha Murphy. I’ve been a state licensed falconer since 1999. My trainer/supervisor at the time was Gary Timbrell, who is now the executive officer of the IAF (International Association for Falconry).

I was the first person in 24 years to learn my apprenticeship with a peregrine falcon tiercel, and I was thrilled to receive both my licences from the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Services). One licence is to engage in The Art of Falconry, the second is the Possession Licence to actually keep birds of prey.

I founded my own company, Ravenstone Bird Control in 2007. I worked on the landfill site in Gortnadroma in Co. Limerick, Youghal landfill site, and also the Cork City Landfill site on the Kinsale Road Roundabout. I trained a team of hawks and falcons to keep pest birds off the active rubbish tip. At the time I was the only company in Ireland that was accredited by the NPTA (National Pest Technicians Association).

It was while I was doing pest control in Trabolgan Holiday Village (there was a problem with rooks) that I was approached by the manager, Donal O’Sullivan, with a view to opening an educational centre so that people could learn about birds of prey and see them up close. Conservation through education has always been a passion of mine. Donal was as excited about the idea as I was, and now this will be my ninth season based in Trabolgan Holiday Village.

We have a converted clubhouse up on the golf course. It was a great achievement for us to have been awarded certificates of excellence from TripAdvisor for the last four years running. We will be open during the It Takes a Village festival weekend so festival-goers can pop in to say hello, meet the birds, and get their picture taken with them.

Where were you born?

In the Erinville Hospital in Cork.

Where do you live?



I’m very close to my brother Colum and my amazing sister Cecelia. My parents are John and Marie.

Best friend?

That would be Tish, my partner.

Earliest childhood memory?

My mum Marie was always an amazing baker, there was always a smell of beautiful homemade cakes in our home.

Person you most admire?

That would be my nephew. Sean O’Neill. He is such a remarkable little boy.

Person who most irritates you?

James Corden.

Sam Murphy from the Birds of Prey centre at Trabolgan Holiday village.
Sam Murphy from the Birds of Prey centre at Trabolgan Holiday village.

Who would you like to see as Minister for Finance and why?

No comment. I have zero interest in politics!

Where was your most memorable holiday? Definitely Egypt. I loved visiting the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities and going to see the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in upper Egypt was a real highlight.

Favourite TV programme?

At the moment it’s Portrait Artist of the Year.

Favourite radio show?

I enjoy listening to Neil Prendeville on RedFM.

Your signature dish if cooking?

Wild mushroom risotto.

Favourite restaurant?

The Duchess in Amsterdam.

Last book you read?

Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington.

Best book you read?

Will There Really be a Morning by Frances Farmer.

Last album/CD/download you bought?

Cut the World by Antony and the Johnsons.

Favourite song?

This Woman’s Work by Kate Bush.

One person you would like to see in concert?

Kate Bush.

Do you have a pet?

I have lots of owls, does that count?

Morning person or night owl?

Both an early bird and a night owl — pun intended!

Your proudest moment?

Receiving the phone call from John Twomey, the then manager of the Cork landfill site, to inform me that I was awarded the tender.

Spendthrift or saver?

As my job is seasonal, I’ve adapted like a velociraptor to be a saver!

Name one thing you would improve in your area in which you live?

The potholes are so bad, and because there’s no funds for repair, the Department of Transport simply relabelled our roads as historic routes!

What makes you happy?

Babysitting for Sean and Hazel makes me very happy. When they have sleepovers at mine, they love helping me feed the birds. They’re fabulous company and have such a love of nature.

Sam Murphy from the Birds of Prey centre at Trabolgan Holiday village.
Sam Murphy from the Birds of Prey centre at Trabolgan Holiday village.

How would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered in the people I leave behind, not necessarily by them remembering me, but in their actions. I hope to have instilled things like kindness, empathy, compassion and honesty into those I am able to teach and if they can put those things into action I will then consider myself remembered.

What else are you up to at the moment?

It’s the start of another season for us at the bird of prey centre in Trabolgan. All along we’ve been doing up the centre — new signage, new perches, new photo backdrop. We’re busy getting seedlings and plants ready on the patio in the centre for the bees and the butterflies — that’ll be incredibly rewarding.

We are looking forward to seeing the reaction of the guests when they come up to visit us.

The second edition of It Takes a Village Festival is coming to Trabolgan from May 10-12 so the place will be buzzing with happy festival-goers and amazing music.


It Takes a Village, Ireland’s only live-in music festival, will take over Trabolgan in East Cork for three days of the very best Irish and international music, conversations, and games, from Friday to Sunday, May 10 to 12.

The line-up features a diverse range of music, from folk to funk, rock to rap, and festival attendees will be spoiled for choice with over 60 performances from the likes of Gilles Peterson, AE MAK, Kojaque, James Holden and The Animal Spirits, Le Boom, Awesome Tapes from Africa, David Kitt, Junior Brother, TPM, The Herbaliser, Lords of Strut, Nialler9, Don Letts, Kevin Barry, Lisa O’Neill and Meltybrains.

Festival attendees can also dive into the wet and wild indoor pool parties, visit the Birds of Prey centre to get up close and personal with real life owls and falcons, take a ride on the Go-Karts, play games at the arcade, or get out and ride the soundwaves on the festival’s newest offering, the Cork Harbour Boat Party, with special guest DJ’s Bon Voyage and Nialler 9.

Limited tickets available from www.ittakesavillage.fm

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