Those of you that read my blog regularly will know that Moore Hall is one of our favourite local places to go for a walk here in County Mayo. It never fails to inspire. During our trip last weekend it was nice to see all the early summer woodland plants.
Ferns on stone wall
But the highlight was seeing these wood whites. These butterflies are not common in Mayo and though I think I may have seen them before, this is the first time I got close enough to take a photo! Wood whites are what is called a cryptic species. Different wood white species can only be differentiated by either dissecting their genitalia or by checking their DNA. In Ireland, it was originally thought that we had the Real’s Wood White (Leptidea reali) and Wood White (Leptidea sinapis), but recent research shows that we don’t have Real’s Wood White, but the Cryptic Wood White (Leptidea juvernica) – a species completely absent from Britain but present in other parts of Europe. These two were engaged in a mating courtship – the reason I was able to get so close!
I had my final walk around the wood near the house for 2015 in the rain. It could be the final walk, as many of the conifers are due to be felled early in the new year. The wood has brought me many hours of creativity over the last year and that I will miss it when it is gone. I will miss my walks too as even in the worst of weathers you can still enjoy a relatively dry and comfortable walk.
It is likely that 2016 will bring us more rain and floods, but as the final leaves of 2015 are blown away let us hope for new growth.
May 2016 bring us lots of laughter. May we find time to indulge our creativity and no matter what life throws at us may we will find the grace to deal with it. And may the sun shine through it all.
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful New Year.
We had a walk in Drummin wood and along the shores of Lough Cullen earlier this weekend. The wood has a new track, or should I say old track which has been re-opened and resurfaced. There were some lovely large specimens of hazel and holly.
Along the shores of Lough Cullen there was a wealth of wild flowers. It may be late summer but there was no shortage of colour. I just wanted to share a little of the beauty.
Not fully open Devil’s bit scabious
Fox & cubs
Angelica with wasp
Flowers including selfheal
Knapweed with a rather worn out bee
Grass of Parnassus was a plant I had to look up, as it is one I was not familiar with. In order to get a detailed photo I asked my husband to hold onto the flower head. It was really exquisite (it’s worth clicking on the photo to get a closer look).
Grass of parnassus
Grass of parnassus
And finally of course the lovely view over the lake.
June has started cool, wet and windy, just like May. So progress is slow in the garden. The wood (conifer and ash plantation in reality) is at it’s best now, as despite the weather, all is lush and green around the edges. All the harder to think that much of it will be felled in the next few months. I’m continuing to try and document it in photographs. There are two oak trees in one corner of some planted larch. I hope they can be saved.
The fern was marking a great shadow on the fallen larch stem. The ash is still coming into full leaf. These trees will remain. Where once the ground flora was dominated by brambles other species such as Herb Robert, hedge woundworth and elder are coming in now.
This is a thrush anvil. A convenient stone that a thrush will come to and use to smash open snail shells. This one must be in use for some time as there was a whole graveyard of snail shells scattered around it.
Yesterday’s wind knocked off some of the delicate branch tips of the pine trees. I love the way they are bunched so tight together. The bright yellow marsh marigolds are growing in one of the drains, a splash of colour in an otherwise dark corner of the wood.
Raheens wood is a placed I’ve blogged about before. We returned last week. The woodland flora is at it’s very best now. So, as time is not on my side this week, just enjoy the gallery.
Red campion and fern
A couple of weeks ago we went for a walk at Moorehall. Today the area is owned by Coillte and managed as a woodland. It is a lovely place to go for a walk. The house was built by George Moore and was completed in 1796. It was burnt down in 1923 during the Irish Civil War. There are a couple of websites which give some great background to the history of the house (http://www.oreillydesign.com/moorehall/index.html and http://www.enjoy-irish-culture.com/big-houses-moore-hall.html).
As well as the Hall there was a farmyard and stables. You can still walk through the tunnel that was built to provide a throughway from the farmyard to the coach house and racing stables without causing disturbance to the back lawn!
Tunnel at Moorehall
Then there is a huge walled garden, or at least the remains of it. It must have been an impressive sight in its time. The following website (http://www.oreillydesign.com/moorehall/housmain.html) has a fascinating diagram of what the garden would have looked like when fully functioning and it included four walnut trees, a glasshouse, fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. The trees included peach trees – not a normal crop for the west of Ireland!
Gate from walled garden
Wall garden – turret
Wall in garden
The original house probably had views of Lough Carra but trees have now been planted right around the ruin. Some of the older trees are still in evidence though.
Large beech tree
Lords and Ladies (Arum Lily)
It was a cold day in February when we walked around, but we hope to return later in the spring or early summer when more of the woodland flora will be in evidence.
The recent winter storms have left their mark in the conifer plantation that lies to the east of our house.
The trees are about 35 years old, mainly pine with some larch and birch. I remember planting them with my father and sister one winter when we were young. They are planted in what was once a bog local people used for cutting turf. The turf was used to heat their houses. When useable turf has been removed from a bog it becomes know as cut-away bog. My parents had bought the individual strips from the locals and tried to reclaim into grassland, but the fields had always been wet and full of rushes. I barely remember it as open fields. Though sometimes I get flashes of memory as to how it once was. At some point my parents decided to plant with trees as forestry grants were available through the government. This year, the majority of the trees, will be clear felled and replanted.
I have been using my camera to try and capture the ‘forest’ – for that is the grand term we give it. Parts of it are dark and lifeless, but other corners are full of character. And I will miss them. The kids will too. When we told them the trees would be cut down their first questions was – “where will we play hide and seek?”
For the storm photographs I have either used the black and white setting on my camera or used the programme picasa to change colour shots into black and white. I’ve also fiddle a bit with cropping and saturation.
On Saturday last, we went on another one of our favourite local walks. It goes from Drummin wood just east of Foxford and joins with another part of the Foxford Way, which I have written about before (https://murtaghsmeadow.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/foxford-way-at-laughil/). It was cool, though the sun came out between the showers of rain and sleet. The walk starts at Lough Cullin.
We climbed through the mixed woodland of Drummin Wood. At the top of the first hill, conifer trees were cleared last year, leaving just the broadleaf and a lovely view of the lake.
The path then joins an old track (part of Foxford Way), that leads uphill. At this time of year, there are a couple of beautifully decorated ‘Christmas’ trees here.
The track continues to climb and at the top we got a great view of Nephin, one of our higher Mayo Mountains. The photo below is from 2013, as this year the mountain was not as clear due to the rain clouds, though it was similarly snow topped.
On the way back down we got a lovely view of the hills around Foxford. And the kids loved running down the grassy track.
There were more clouds rolling in as we reached the end of the walk. The lake is quite high at the moment – some of the willow trees are under a few feet of water, though this is not unusual for this time of year. It was a great morning out and it used up some of those extra Christmas calories.
The walk we did on Sunday is part of the Foxford Way, a long distance walk (56 miles) though some of our stunning Mayo countryside. The great thing about the walk is that you can do little sections of it and this is what we did. This section of the walk starts just west of Pontoon Bridge. It follows a track through an area of bog/heath. This area was planted with a conifer plantation some time ago but thankfully someone realized this was a mistake as it was an area of old woodland, so the conifer plantation was cleared. As far as I can tell the area is left now for nature to takes it course. Already birch and willow trees are coming back and hopefully oak and hazel will return over time.
Foxford Way – Laughil
The place-name is Laughil, in Irish na Leathchoille. Leath can mean half or side and Coille is a wood. Looking at old ordnance survey maps this area was wooded since at least the 1840’s. Once you get past the area of that has been cleared you find old oak trees, covered in moss and lichens, hazel too is abundant, and holly. There is moss, everywhere.
And lichens, including this one Lobaria pulmonaria, an indicator lichen for old woodlands.
On the way back you get to admire the view all over again.
We took a slight detour at the bottom and headed down to the lake shore to admire the stillness of the water.