These slightly tatty daisy-like flowers grow along the marshy seashore here in Moyard in Connemara. They don’t seem to mind being being submerged at high tide. I have read that the leaves are edible and very tasty, somewhat similar to the better-known samphire. The internet abounds with recipes for sea aster leaves, but it seems that they are best simply pan-fried for a short time. I plan to give them a try soon,
Meadowsweet is one of the most prolific of summer wild flowers found in the hedgerows of Connemara and throughout Ireland. Its fluffy cream coloured blossoms have a delicate fragrant scent, so reminiscent of summertime. A French visitor of ours collected the blossoms for drying to make a “tisane” or herbal tea, but we never got to taste it! The meadowsweet and purple loosetrife are often found growing together, where they make a gorgeous display of colour.
I went to the South Connemara Gaeltacht last week, for the annual MacDara’s Island pilgrimage. We went further south, across a series of bridges, to the remote Mweenish Island, which has a spectacular example of machair habitat. Machair is a sandy grassland, found only on the exposed coasts of the western seaboard of Ireland and Scotland. It is formed when calcareous sand is blown inland and depends on low-input traditional farming practices to maintain its biodiversity.
When these tall purple wild flowers are appear in the hedgerows, you know that summer has definitely arrived! Together with the fluffy cream flowers of the meadowsweet, they create a beautiful collage of colour bordering every road and lane in Connemara and through the West of Ireland.
I was in South Connemara yesterday to take my niece on a day out from Irish College. We went to the beautiful Coral Beach (Trá an Dóilín) near Carraroe and I was rewarded with an amazing selection of wild flowers growing on the sandy machair grassland in between the massive rocks which litter the South Connemara landscape. This is a Butterfly Orchid, the first time I’ve seen one. There were lots of other orchids, similar to the pink and white ones I’ve already described on this site and there were several other flowers I’ve never seen before, which I will be posting soon.
The Harebell is a delicate, blue, bell-shaped flower which grows on the sandy coastal meadows around Connemara. I photographed these in Finish Island, an uninhabited tidal Island in South Connemara, which can be reached on foot only when the tide is exceptionally low. I have also seen large numbers of Harebells at Fountainhill, near Claddaghduff and on the spectacular machair on Mweenish Island.
While walking along the marshy seashore of Ballynakill harbour I almost missed this tiny little flower. The fleshy leaves are similar to those of Sea Sandwort, but the flowers are pale pink, and grow from between the leaves, where they are partially hidden, rather that at the tips of the stems. Strictly speaking, the petals are sepals rather actual petals, but for simplicity’s sake I have listed this as having 5 petals.
This pretty yellow flower grows abundantly in the dunes adjacent to Connemara’s beaches. I have photographed it at the Coral beach near Carraroe, and at Fountainhill near Claddaghduff, as well as in the Connemara National Park. All of the bedstraws (most of which are white), have a pleasant smell like newly-mown hay, and were once used to stuff mattresses. Legend has it that Lady’s bedstraw was used in the mattress of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, which is how it got its name as well as its colour!