A strikingly beautiful image of a Red Squirrel (Iora rua, Sciurus vulgaris) taken by Jimmy Mc Donnell from Newcastle Co. Wicklow has just been announced as the overall winner in the RTÉ Eye On Nature wildlife photography competition.

Red squirrel (Iora Rua, Sciurus vulgaris) by Jimmy Mc Donnell, Co. Wicklow.

RTÉ and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland with the Office of Public Works launched this year's competition in January 2022 on Mooney Goes Wild on RTÉ Radio 1 and Today on RTÉ One.

RTÉ Presenter Derek Mooney, was in the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, Dublin to announce the overall winner.

Earlier today all 12 finalists in the competition gathered at the National Botanic Gardens where they got to see their large-scale images displayed. Throughout the Today show on RTÉ One this afternoon, Derek spoke with each finalist about their image and how they captured it.

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The judging panel were Dr Matthew Jebb (Director, National Botanic Gardens), Anne Sommerfield (award-winning filmmaker) and Mike Brown (award-winning wildlife photographer.)

This competition celebrates the flora and fauna of our island. It received an overwhelming response with more than 3,000 entries.

The judges narrowed 100 photos down to the final 12 images before selecting the overall winning image. All these photographs represent the rich natural heritage that Ireland has to offer, showcasing our island’s biodiversity.

Photo Credit: Andres Poveda

After a difficult selection process, the judges selected Jimmy’s image as the overall winner as "it is the perfect combination of art and technique. Technically it is very well taken but has an artistic feel to it. Almost a painterly quality."

Jimmy was presented with the RTÉ Eye on Nature trophy and a prize of €1,000.

Jimmy Mc Donnell, Newcastle Co. Wicklow was named winner of the RTÉ Eye on Nature wildlife photography competition at the National Botanic Gardens – OPW for his image Red squirrel (Iora rua, Sciurus vulgaris). Pictured (left to right) guest judge photographer Mike Brown, Dr Matthew Jebb, Director, National Botanic Gardens, winner Jimmy Mc Donnell and Mooney Goes Wild presenter Derek Mooney. Picture Andres Poveda
Guest judge photographer Mike Brown, Dr Matthew Jebb, Director, National Botanic Gardens, winner Jimmy Mc Donnell and Mooney Goes Wild presenter Derek Mooney. Picture Andres Poveda

An online gallery featuring the 12 finalists' photographs along with a further eight runner-up images was launched last week at rte.ie/eyeonnature.

The 12 finalists images will be displayed in Glasnevin until June 5th. It will then move to Dublin Castle, where along with all 12 of this year’s finalist images, the final 12 images in the 2021 competition will also be displayed.

In the coming months, the exhibition will travel to other Office of Public Works sites across the country including Portumna Castle and Athenry Castle.