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12 finalists announced in Eye on Nature wildlife photography competition

Watch The Today Show this St Patrick’s Day as winner is revealed

Twelve finalists, including three from County Antrim, have been chosen from over 7,000 entries in the RTÉ and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland’s Eye on Nature wildlife photographic competition.

Their stunning photographs can now be seen at www.rte.ie/eyeonnature.

RTÉ's Mooney Goes Wild and The Today Show launched the competition in January this year, to celebrate the flora and fauna of our island, and it received an overwhelming response from the public. The judging panel, comprising Matthew Jebb (National Botanic Gardens), Niall Hatch (BirdWatch Ireland) and Sheena Jolley (acclaimed wildlife photographer), shortlisted the final 12 photographs, and the ultimate winner will be announced on The Today Show this St Patrick’s Day on RTÉ One from 1pm.

Derek Mooney will 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. 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 re-connection, 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.” Matthew Jebb of the National Botanic Gardens said:

“It was very difficult to choose from among the entries. The 12 we have picked represent an incredible range of beauty. We were seeing fantastic shots, showing technical skills, with so much patience involved on part of photographers, and a real sense of love for their subject.” 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