The South West of Ireland has a temperate climate and as such is blessed with a vast array of wildflowers, shrubs and trees that can only survive in moderate conditions. The phenomenon that contributes to the weather in South Kerry and West Cork results from the Gulf Stream that transports tropical, warm water from the Gulf of Mexico across the Atlantic to these shores. Bonane Heritage Park lies close to the border between Kerry and Cork and makes for the ideal place to witness some of the many different varieties.
The most commonly occurring of these wildflowers and shrubs are detailed below: the common name, followed by the Irish name in brackets and then a brief description. Ireland is a land of myth, folklore and legend and as such most of the flowers have a story attached to them, some of which are detailed together with references from famous literary icons such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Tennyson and Seamus Heaney.
So, if you think all yellow flowers are either dandelions or buttercups – think again. Did you notice the water forget-me-nots near the entrance to the park? As you walk around, take a few minutes to see what other flowers you can find and let us know if you come across any not mentioned here.
There is such a proliferation of wildflowers to be found at Bonane Heritage Park the list would seem endless, so below are an example of just a few. At the bottom of the page there is a link to a PDF document that details many other varieties; why not print it out and when you come to Bonane Heritage Park, County Kerry make a point of trying to spot some of them.
All the pictures that have been used in this section have been reproduced with kind permission from Jenny Seawright who has a fantastic website dedicated not only to Irish wildflowers but also to trees, ferns, grasses, mosses, lichens and much, much more – have a look at the webiste for more information: www.irishwildflowers.ie/index.html
Furze (also known as Gorse or Whin) is probably the most readily identifiable shrub that graces Ireland’s landscape and it’s best descibed as evergreen, spiky and colourful. It grows in thick, dense clumps and shows off it’s bright yellow peaflowers for approximately 9 months of the year.
If you’re brave enough to get close to it, some of the varieties smell like coconut. There is much written about furze but the most well known phrase must be “when gorse is out of blossom, kissing’s out of fashion”. Perish the thought!
Folklore: in County Kerry it is said that if you ‘get a few handfuls of the yellow blossoms of the furze and boil them in water and give the water as a dose to a horse, this will cure worms’ (from the National Folklore Collection, University College Dublin).
TO BE FINISHED