The Praeger Centre was launched at the National Botanic Gardens on Saturday morning during a visit by the Dublin Naturalists Field Club (DNFC), along with representatives of the Belfast Naturalists Field Club (BNFC).

The Garden’s Director, Dr Matthew Jebb, welcomed the two field clubs and pointed out how fitting it was that Praeger, who had been President of both Clubs in his day and who had organised joint outings of the field clubs, should be the inspiration behind the need for a Field Study Centre at the National Botanic Gardens. Matthew Jebb thanked the Heritage Council for a generous grant that had enabled the purchase of eight binocular microscopes, an entomological cabinet and the provision of a library in the form of the complete publications of the Field Studies Council. The concept at the heart of the Praeger Centre is that the more people learn about the flora and fauna of Ireland, the more they can appreciate and protect its diversity and beauty for future generations.

This being the 125th Anniversary year of the DNFC it was a historic moment, and an opportunity to take the long standing links with the Field Club and the National Botanic Gardens to a new level. Matthew Jebb invited the DNFC to make use of the equipment and literature in their programme of events for 2012. DNFC’s current President, Katharine Duff, and Secretary, Gerry Sharkey, were both present at the launch and intend to plan a programme to make full use of the Centre.

Ultimately the Praeger Centre will fulfil the need for a dedicated suite of classroom-laboratories with equipment and literature to provide the facilities needed for examination of field-collected materials, to host training days and classes and support natural history clubs and societies by providing an indoor space for their own meetings and training events.

The parkland habitats, river Tolka and pond at the National Botanic Gardens are an excellent source of materials, especially of plant and invertebrate communities, to provide subject matter for users of the Centre.

Robert Lloyd Praeger was born in 1865 in Holywood, Co. Down, An engineer by qualification, a librarian by profession and a naturalist by inclination, Praeger’s appointment as assistant librarian at the National Library of Ireland in 1893 brought him to Dublin, where he became the focus of a remarkable high point in natural history studies. He organised the Lambay Survey in 1905, which led to the famous Clare Island Survey of 1909 to 1912. He was one of the most prolific writers Ireland has ever seen, with 800 publications, as well as co-founding and editing the journal, the Irish Naturalist. He was awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s gold medal on two occasions and later became its president. He was elected President of the Royal Irish Academy, the British Ecological Society, the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland, the Geographical Society of Ireland and the Bibliographical Society of Ireland, as well as founding Presidents of both the Library Association of Ireland and an Taisce. He received honorary doctorates from Queen’s College Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, and the National University of Ireland.

In a life that spanned eighty years, Praeger influenced many people during an age of discovery and enlightenment about Ireland’s natural history and landscape. Praeger gave voice to a profound respect for the beauty of the natural world. His field skills and writings, extolling the virtues of tramping through the Irish countryside, make it more than appropriate that his name should be associated with what the National Botanic Gardens hopes will become a focus for renewed interest in Natural History. The Dublin Naturalists’ Field Club has been in existence for 125 years, and for much of that time has lacked a head quarters at which it could house it’s library, and conduct indoor identification workshops. Each year it holds about 50 outdoor field excursions, and the Director hoped that the Praeger centre will provide their members, along with other natural historians, with the opportunity to develop a greater depth of knowledge and skills.



The Field Studies Council (FSC) is a UK-based educational charity committed to environmental training and understanding. Established in 1943, the FSC has a network of 17 education centres, which run numerous training courses each year for children and adults from amateur to professional. The Field Studies Council has just a single field centre in Northern Ireland, at Derrygonnelly in Fermanagh. The Praeger Centre will provide an urban field studies centre in the heart of Dublin.

In addition the FSC has a publication service that has produced a series of guides for identification of the fauna and flora of these islands. These range from fold-out charts to detailed monographs. The Heritage Council grant has enabled us to buy the complete set of their literature.


Birds of prey
British bats
British Stonefly
Bugs on bushes
Churchyard lichens
Cloud name trail
Common ferns
Common seaweeds
Dayflying moths
Describing flowers
Dragonflies & damselflies
Exploring colour
Fishes Chart
Freshwater name trail
Fungi name trail
Garden birds
Gardening for primary Schools
Grassland plants
Grassland plants 2
Guide to adult caddisflies
Guide to bees of Britain
Harvestmen – CHART
Hedgerows chart
House and garden spiders
Keeping frog tadpoles
Land mammals
Lichens of heaths and moors
Lichens on twigs
Moorland plants
Night sky
Owls and owl pellets
Plant galls CHART
Playing field plants
Reptiles & amphibians
Rocky Shore Communities
Rocky shore lichens
Rocky shore name trail
Saltmarsh plants
Sand dunes plants
Schedule 9 wildlife
Simple key to Caddis Larvae
Tracks and signs
Tree name trail
Urban lichens
Urban lichens 2
Water plants
Wetland birds
Woodland name trail
Woodland plants
Woodlouse name trail

AIDGAP guides

Beetle families key
British bugs
British sawflies
British woodlice key
Brown seaweed key
Common benthic diatoms
Crab key
Dating of English houses
Deciduous broad-leaved trees in winter
Freshwater fishes and lampreys
Freshwater invertebrates
Lacewings and their allies
Marine invertebrates
New key to wild flowers
Plant Galls
Shore Fishes British Isles
Soil types key
Spiders key
Terrestrial invertebrates
The fern guide
Water plants

Synopses of British Fauna

British anthozoa
Cheilostomatous Bryozoa
Cheilostomatous Bryozoa
Commensal and parasitic copepods
Copepods parasitic on fi+A89shes
Ctenostome bryozoans
Cyclostome bryozoans
Euphausiid stomatopod
Free-living marine nematodes
Halacarid mites
Molluscs: benthic opisthobranchs
Polychaetes: British Amphinomida
Polychaetes: Interstitial families
Sea Spiders
Shallow water crabs
Siphonophores and velellids

 Royal Entomological Society Handbooks

Aphids – Aphidinae
British Lonchaeidae RES
British Scraptiidae RES
Broad nosed weevils
Carabidae RES
Cuckoo wasps
Keds, fat-flies & bat-flies
Pollen beetles
Scatopsidae & Bibionidae
Sciarid flies
Staphylinidae PART 5
Staphylinidae PART 7 & 8
Tachinid flies
Water Beetles

Secondary Science Publications

Coral reefs: ecosystems in crisis
Digital maps and GPS
Freshwater investigations
Living processes and what plants need to grow
OU project guide
Parts of a plant
Plants in their natural environment
Rethink, refuse, reduce…
Sand Dunes – BOOK
Science in urban green spaces
The curious mind of young Darwin

BRC Atlases
Ladybirds ATLAS
Woodlice ATLAS