Twelve incredible nature photographs have been chosen in the final of a new photography competition and two Laois photos are among them.
The Eye on Nature competition is being held by RTÉ and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland with the Office of Public Works.
RTÉ's Mooney Goes Wild and The Today Show launched it in January 2021, to celebrate the flora and fauna of our island. It received an overwhelming response, with more than 7,000 entries.
The judging panel, consisting of Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens), Niall Hatch (BirdWatch Ireland) and Sheena Jolley (acclaimed wildlife photographer), chose the final 12 photographs, which will include the overall winner.
On St Patrick's Day March 17 Derek Mooney will announce the winner live on the Today Show and present the photographer with the inaugural trophy and a prize of €1,000. In the coming months, the exhibition will travel to other Office of Public Works sites across the country.
Laois photographer Paul Fetherstonhaugh is one of the 12 talented finalists. Paul from Mountrath is a member of Mountmellick Camera Club.
He took this incredible photograph of a jay being eyed up by a native red squirrel, in Garryhinch Woods.
Meanwhile Feargal Quinn from Dunshaughlin, Meath took this amazing photo of a barn owl in Ballyfin.
In the coming months, the exhibition will travel to other Office of Public Works sites across the country, which could include Emo Court or Heywood Gardens in Laois.
Derek Mooney said: ‘I knew that Irish people loved wildlife, but who would have thought that we were a nation of wildlife photographers too? We received pictures from almost every county in Ireland. I'm touched by the response. For many, this competition was a way for them to express their relationship with nature. For others it was a reconnection, and for some it was an awakening, to the wonderful world of nature on our doorstep. There were in excess of 7,000 entries, and it's fair to say that almost every member of the animal kingdom living on, flying over or swimming around Ireland is represented.’
The 12 finalists are:
-Larry Doherty, Thurles, Orange Ladybird at Cabragh Wetlands, Thurles
-Edele Cunningham, Castleknock, Dublin, Fallow Buck at the Phoenix Park
-Marcin Kaczmarkiewicz, Bagenalstown Co. Carlow, Cygnet swan at River Barrow, Bagenalstown
-James Crombie, Ballycommon, Co. Offaly, Starling murmuration at Lough Ennell, Mullingar.
-Paul Fetherstonhaugh, Mountrath Co. Laois, jay and red squirrel
-Andrew Yeates, Navan Co. Meath, kingfishers mating at River Boyne
-Johnny Mitchell, Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, hare
-Feargal Quinn, Ballymore, Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath - barn owl at Ballyfin Co. Laois
-Tom McDonnell, Rathlin Island, Co Antrim, hares boxing
-Ruth Kelly, Navan Co Meath, grey seal pup on Great Saltee Island, Co. Wexford
-Tristan Bane, Ravenhill, Belfast, Co. Antrim, fox cub in his back garden
-Philip Greaves, Clonmel Co. Tipperary, leaf cutter bee in his back garden