This website is the result of a lifelong interest in the wildflowers of
Ireland and is the culmination of about thirty-five years of country
walks spent looking down. It could be said that the seed was sown
many years ago, when, as a small child, I regularly visited an elderly
relative who had a house in Glenmalure, Co Wicklow. This lady, pictured
below left, was Dr Kathleen Lynn, feminist, socialist and nationalist.
Dr Lynn was also well-known as the founder of St. Ultan’s Children’s Hospital and also for her part in the Easter Rising of 1916. However, my memory of her is of an old lady with a long, brown, tweed skirt in which there was a large pocket. She took me up the hillside in Glenmalure and at a certain stage, she crouched down with me to show me my first ever wild orchid. From her large pocket she took a magnifying glass and I shall never forget the wonder of seeing into the little mouth of that amazing plant. From that day forward, I was hooked. For Christmas 1950, I was given a book entitled Birds, Trees and Flowers which I devoured and in 1951, I received a copy of The Observer’s Book of British Wild Flowers. These two books I still have and look upon them as old friends who helped to establish a lifelong passion.
Over the intervening years I have looked and wondered at the diversity of our wildflowers in many parts of Ireland. In 1978 while in Co Kerry I came across Simethis Planifolia or Kerry Lily. It must be one of the most beautiful of all and we are lucky to have it thriving in part of our country.
A few years ago, my daughter, Petra, suggested to me that I set up a website to show what a wealth of wild plants grow in Ireland. I decided to get started on it towards the end of 2006 and have had immense help and encouragement from many people. I cannot begin to describe the enormous help I have received from my very patient and supportive husband, Pete Devlin, who very generously accompanied me around Ireland in search of wildflowers at times when he had many better things he could have been doing. Others have helped me greatly and their much appreciated contributions are listed on my references page.
Most of the wildflowers that I have catalogued are quite easy to identify if you have a reliable book with you. However there are many more plants in Ireland which I have not been able to identify with confidence as they closely resemble their hybrid brothers and sisters or even their first cousins. Some plant families I find extremely difficult, such as the Forget-me-nots, and Orchids. However, when I have been able to identify plants sufficiently, I shall include them on this website. And of course I will make mistakes and won’t mind having my attention drawn to them.
The photographs are all mine, with the exception of Ivy Broomrape, where my husband Pete climbed over a fence in order to get a good picture of it. I don’t climb fences any more! Some of the photos were scanned from 35mm slides and as soon as I can, I shall re-take those with my digital SLR as I think the results are frequently better. If you have any interest in any of these pictures, I would appreciate your contacting me. The copyright to them is mine and I would prefer if that is respected and that I won’t see them anywhere else without my permission. If you would like a high resolution image of any of the photographs on this website, please use the form on the Contact page.
Finally I would say that my approach, although scientific to some extent, is in reality very much that of one who is drawn to the wonderful, delicate, magic creation which is a flowering plant. I hope that I can pass on some of that feeling for the beauty that is all around us if we just choose to find it.