What I did on my holidays

Oideas Gael, Gleann Cholm Cille, July 2000

Gleann Cholm Cille, July 2000

The local flora

One of the main topics of the environment and culture course was the development of the local natural history. We learned a lot from Séan about the current flora and fauna (not a lot of the latter are around to be honest), and then went to wander around looking at it all. Here are a few pictures from our expeditions.

Blanket bog and Lough Unshagh

The most notable feature of the landscape is the great open areas of blanket bog that covers almost all of it. Here we have a view of a part of it, a few miles from the village (or half a mile if you believe our teacher). The lake is Lough Unshagh, which in time will itself become bog. You can also see the remains of a small settlement, probably abandoned at the time of the Famine.

Peat cutting

Peat turf is still the main fuel supply in the area and, although machine cutting is taking over, a lot of it is still cut by hand. This photo shows the edge of a cut. The bog oak sticking out of the side of the cut is about 4000 years old: the peat at the bottom of the cut is probably about 6-7,000 years old. My companion (I think it's Molly) gives an idea of the depth of the cutting. Ireland used to be forested: a combination of climate changes and the cutting down of the forests by Neolithic man was the cause of the growth of the bog. Ireland is now the least-forested country in Europe.

Bog orchids

The bogs are covered in a wealth of specialised wildlife: mainly the sphagnum moss and heather, but also sun dew, bog cotton, bog asphodel, beautiful bog orchids and many others. Here is a cluster of bog orchids.

Orchid and Tormentil

A detail of a bog-orchid with a couple of yellow tormentil flowers below.

Bog asphodel

A pretty yellow bog asphodel with a sprig of pink heather.

Self-heal and kidney vetch

More flowers from the hedgerows: the purple ones are self-heal and the fluffy yellow ones are (I think) kidney vetch. There were a lot of other vetches and clumps of pretty blue scabious, which I didn't get a photo of. The hedges are also full of bright red fuchsias.


A strange shot this: lichens covering a stone slab on one of the neolithic tombs. I was fascinated by the patterns.

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