The orchid must be the most spectacular of Connemara’s wild flowers. These are an endangered species and are protected by law in Ireland, but they grow abundantly in Connemara. You can see them growing by the side of busy main roads, and dotted around the fields where horses and cows seem to leave them untouched. Some of our neighbours have hundreds of them growing in their lawns, which they cannot cut until the flowering season ends. There are many varieties of wild orchid, but identifying them precisely is a job for a professional. I think this one may be a Marsh Orchid, but I am by no means certain.
The plantain, also known as “rat-tail” is a rampant weed throughout Ireland, as it virtually indestructable, pushing up through gravel, pavings, flower-beds and lawns. However, it is worth a closer look, as its delicate collar of pale yellow stamens is rather pretty. As children we used plantains for a game, similar to “conkers”, where each person tried to knock the flower head off the other person’s stalk. You can also create a kind of missile by ejecting the head from the stalk by wrapping another stalk around it and tugging sharply.