I spent a few days on Inis Oírr during the last days of July and early August doing some plant recording. On my first outing, I passed the Áras Éanna and began recording. I soon noticed how many wild herbs were present along the roadside, Agrimony, Burdock, and Wild Carrot, to name a few. It was a lovely morning, grey, but promising. I did not get very far along the road as the variety of plants was so rich. Among those plants was many Orobanche (Broomrapes) , some gone over, though one was still in flower, see picture 1.
One of my favourite Burren flowers appeared in full bloom…. Bloody Cranesbill (see photo). I love how striking and vivid this magenta coloured wild geranium appears against the grey limestone.
Moving slowly along I stop and spend some time examining a number of Sow Thistles …..trying to determine which species is present, see picture 2.
Pyramidal Orchids were frequent but alas many had gone over. It must have been gorgeous here two weeks before, when everything was in full bloom.
Wild Madder, a species also found in the Burren, was very abundant ,growing in great mats along the base of the limestone walls. Honeysuckle, a personal favourite, not just for it pretty flowers but for its gorgeous scent protruded from roadside walls, its sweet scent wafting in the air.
I was surprised to see a single clump of Salad Burnet as although it is a plant associated with calcareous habitats, I do not see it very often. And yes, it does taste of cucumber!
I love the bright orange and red of flowers of Montbretia growing along the roadside, I wondered how it made its way onto the island, but later that day I saw plants in Roisin’s garden (my sisters mother-in-law), which was not too far away. Mind you this year the two pygmy goats in Roisin’s garden had managed to nibble most if it.
Finally, I arrived at the seashore, and here I found plants of Hemp Agrimony, Rock Samphire, Sea Mayweed and to my surprise, a beautiful specimen of Fleabane. There were many colourful red and black moths on lilac thistles see picture 3.
Along the way I came across a beautifully painted currach, part of an exhibition of Currachs painted by 21 different artists in celebration of 21 years of the Arás Éanna . This one shown in picture 4 is by the Mayo based artist Ger Sweeney, entitled Surface of the Sea.
On my way home, I spotted a lemon coloured Mullein, beside the ancient church, An Teampall Beag Cill Gobnait. I wasn’t sure which species of Mullein it was as the large leaves were not downy as I had expected. Close by an old Elder tree was growing out of the stone wall, an amazing sight shown in picture 5. I wondered how old this Elder tree was and admired its tenacity having survived here in such a limited and exposed habitat, being one of very few trees on the island, this is indeed a special tree.
The day ended with a glorious mackeral sky see picture 6, reminding me of another painted currach, which I had seen earlier called mackeral sky ……..