Tag Archives: heritage

Hawthorn hedgerows

One of the distinctive features of our Irish countryside are our hedgerows. These field boundaries are part of our cultural and agricultural heritage, often forming townland as well as farm demarcations.

Hawthorn hedgerows

Hawthorn hedgerows

In many counties, including Mayo, hawthorn makes up a large proportion of these native hedgerows (hawthorn is estimated to occur in about 90% of hedgerows in the county).
Hawthorns flower in May, so it is sometimes called the May tree, or whitethorn. This year there is an abundance of hawthorn blossom, much like last year. Some of the hedgerows look almost white (perhaps an indication of why it is also called whitethorn). Anytime there is a strong wind, the little roads around us are covered in fallen blossom. So it almost looks like it has been snowing!

In Ireland, the hawthorn is often associated with fairies and the underworld. Lone hawthorns in the middle of fields will not be touched for fear of upsetting the fairy folk. Hawthorns can live up to 400 years old, and while they never get tall, they can become quite gnarled, so you can see where it may get this reputation.

Hawthorn rainbow

Hawthorn in the background with rainbow

Enniscoe House

Enniscoe House and Estate can be found near Crossmolina in Co Mayo, on the shores of Lough Conn.  Steeped in heritage the Georgian house dates from 1790 and today is run as a family hotel. We visited a couple of weeks ago to take part in a bumblebee workshop (held by the National Biodiversity Data Centre). The second half of the day involved looking for and identifying bumblebees.  It also allowed us to enjoy the grounds including the beautiful woodland, but especially the organic walled garden. The garden is divided into two; first the formal garden or pleasure grounds, and secondly the vegetable and impressive fruit growing area. Strawberries, apple trees and currants were all in bloom.  The garlic was huge in comparison to my own! And the potatoes were coming on very well.

Enniscoe is also the location of the Mayo North Heritage Centre, where people can go and explore their North Mayo ancestors / genealogy. There is also a looped walk, a museum and all important tea rooms.