The Last Beekeeper

Two best friends, one great journey,

the adventure of a lifetime. Their

quest, to find The Last Beekeeper, and

save the world.

They learn so much along the way.

With the end in sight the outcome

remains in the balance.

It falls to you to make the difference, to determine what happens next…


“It is lovely to see such beautiful writing about nature and the crisis we face and how
we can respond to it. This is a timely and important publication.”

– Minister for Heritage, Mr Malcolm Noonan TD

The Last Beekeeper – New Book For Children To Create A Buzz… Naturally, It Has A Sting In The Tale

Minister for Heritage to officially launch new book on Climate Change in Kilkenny

Quirky storyline sees two best friends in quest which celebrates the best traditions of inter-generational storytelling 

‘This story is about how climate change is knocking on our front door and features corncrakes and hares rather than koala and polar bears’

A chance encounter with Rainbow People almost 30 years ago is the inspiration for a new book for children, which explores the challenges around climate change which are posed today and poised to confront future generations.

The Last Beekeeper’ by Johnny Renko, the pseudonym for journalist and former Senator, John Whelan will be launched by the Minister for Heritage, Mr Malcolm Noonan, in Kilkenny at the end of October.

“When I was dispatched to report on what was happening in Rosenallis in the Slieve Bloom mountains in 1993 when thousands of colourful Rainbow People converged on the townland of Ballyhuppahaun little did I realise the profound and abiding impact it would have on me. This is the story I have always been meaning to tell, firstly for my children and now as it turns out for my grandchildren, thirty years on. The Rainbow People were intriguing in so many ways. I was fascinated by the resourcefulness and ingenuity. They were way before their time in terms of eco-living, conservation, leave no trace, carbon footprint and so many of the issues which have since become mainstream and part of our daily dialogue. 

“I was fascinated in the Slieve Blooms back then and a year later when I travelled to join them in Slovenia, how thousands of strangers, from so many nationalities, could live on the side of a mountain, respect the landscape, share resources and look out for each other while in perfect harmony with nature. I always felt it would be fantastic if we could learn from them, apply this approach and scale it up across society in general, it would help solve many of the issues around waste, pollution and the threat to our environment and biodiversity that we now face,” explains the author of the back story to The Last Beekeeper.

“While I have been meaning to write this story for years, the timing has never felt so apt as it’s never been more topical. The story is written to suit the oral tradition of Irish storytelling, ó ghlúin go glúin, and yet the theme is universal; what sort of a world are we handing over to our children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Speaking in advance of the book’s launch at Butler House Gardens and Orangerie on Friday, October 29th, Minister Noonan had this to say:

“We are facing an immense global challenge in tackling biodiversity loss. In this decade of ecosystem restoration, it is important that we restore our relationship with nature – specifically with the living creatures with whom we share this planet. The first step in this process is acknowledging that human beings, non-human animals, and plants are all one and the same – each playing a non-hierarchical part in the drama called: the rich tapestry of life. 

“John’s writing will inspire young people to be a part of and indeed to lead the important conversations that are an essential starting point in bringing about such restoration, but more than that it will also motivate them further to really want to engage with this process of change and become ecologists, marine biologists, entomologists, etc. This is a timely piece of writing, and I am delighted to be associated with its launch.”

Even before its launch during the midterm school holidays, The Last Beekeeper is creating quite a stir thanks to its stunningly powerful and poignant book cover. It features a painting by Canadian artist, Autumn Skye Morrison, entitled ‘Resilience’.

“This exceptional work by Autumn Skye which dates to 2017 is so moving and encapsulates the spirit and essence of the story. I’m absolutely thrilled to have permission to use this image on the book. It’s a perfect match to capture the reader’s attention as they set out on the story. In this instance I certainly hope that it’s a case of where you can judge the book by the cover,” says the author.

The book cover and typography are by talented graphic designer, Gavin Cowley, who is originally from Tullamore and now resides in Monasterevin.

The cover notes on the book hint as to what lies in store for the reader.

“Two best friends, one great journey, the adventure of a lifetime. Their quest, to find The Last Beekeeper, and save the world. They learn so much along the way. With the end in sight the outcome remains in the balance. It falls to you to make the difference, to determine what happens next…

“The Last Beekeeper is written to be read aloud in an inter-generational experience, a book for those young at heart, children of all ages. Explore. Engage. Enjoy the journey.”

The Last Beekeeper will be launched by the Minister for Heritage, Mr Malcolm Noonan on Friday, October 29th, at 11am in Butler House Gardens and Orangerie. It’s a family-friendly event and adults should be accompanied by a child.

The Last Beekeeper will be available at €15 from selected book shops and outlets nationwide and online from 

The Author And The Story Behind The Last Beekeeper

John Whelan aka Johnny Renko (his hippy handle!!) is an Irish journalist, media commentator and blogger. He’s the author of two other titles, The Buddha of Ballyhuppahaun and, Growing Pains, Growing Up

Autumn Skye Artist
Autumn Skye Artist

The Cover Image

Everyone is asking about the stunning and beautiful book cover for The Last Beekeeper.

Understandably so. It’s a work of art.

The cover art is a powerful and poignant work by Autumn Skye Morrison from British Columbia, Canada.

Titled ‘Resilience’ it was painted in 2017 and The Last Beekeeper author, Johnny Renko says that for him there could be no other cover for his book.

‘Resilience’ by Autumn Skye is a stand out and exceptional piece of art. I connect with it every day to remind me of our responsibility to nature and the earth, the landscape and the habitats we have been so fortunate to inherit and share.

Hopefully this is one case where you can judge the book by the cover as it captivates the reader at the outset of this story’s journey and captures the essence of The Last Beekeeper.

I believe the potency and poignancy of  ‘Resilience’ is further enhanced and amplified by the subtle and understated book cover design of graphic artist Gavin Cowley.

The quality finish and industry leading printing and production standards are by Martin Connoly and his team at Print Central.

For more on Autumn Skye art you can visit: