The Grand Canal in the heart of Dublin city is home to Ireland's largest bird, the mute swan.

During the winter the Grand Canal at Davitt Road, Inchicore in Dublin is home to groups of mute swans. The mute swan, Ireland’s largest bird is identified by its orange bill and curved neck. 

The swans arrive at Inchicore in September and the flock grows to about 50 birds by December.

This stretch of water on Grand Canal is the Ballroom of Romance as far as the swans are concerned, it’s here they court and marry their partners who remain with them for life.

Water plants growing at the bottom of the Canal are the staple diet for the swans. But many local people fond of swans, feed them bread, cereal and porridge and this is important in winter when natural food is scarce.

As part of the study of Dublin swans, nearly all the birds at Inchicore are ringed. Zoologist Dr Richard Collins uses a swan pole to catch a male swan, or cob. Once the swan is docile, he fits two rings on its legs. The first is a metal ring with a unique number on it. The second is a white plastic ring with a code on it. The code can be read through binoculars or a telescope so the bird can be identified without having to catch it again. By keeping track of the plastic ring sightings a profile of a swan's life history can be kept.

Richard Collins weighs the swan before releasing it back onto the canal. The collection of such detailed information helps to conserve and nurture this much loved Irish bird.

A 'Nationwide’ report broadcast on 22 May 2000. The reporter is Derek Mooney.