Summer meeting 1957: Galway

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1957: Galway

17 August 1957 - 30 August 1957

Meeting report

Despite the petrol rationing earlier in the year which threatened to interfere with arrangements for the meeting, a party of fourteen assembled in Salthill, Co. Galway, on the evening of 17 August. The meeting had two objects; to give members the opportunity of seeing and exploring the better-known localities in North Clare (V.C. H. 9) and in West Galway (V.C. H. 16) and to do something towards improving our knowledge of the bryophyte flora of the eastern parts of Co. Galway (V.C.’s H. 15 and H. 17) which had hitherto been poorly recorded. Salthill was our headquarters for the first week, and from here we made excursions to the Burren of Clare, the limestone plain of eastern Galway, a sandstone valley on the flanks of the Slieve Aughty Mountains, and to the slate hills in the extreme south of Co. Mayo, For the second week we moved to Clifden, and from here explored a number of localities in Connemara. These provided habitats ranging from calcareous sand-dunes to blanket bog, and from old walls in Clifden to wet schistose rocks at more than 2000ft. During the first week the party travelled comfortably in three private cars. With the departure of two members with a car and the arrival of one without, transport for the second week presented a problem. All would have been well if a visitor from Belfast, due to join us at Clifden, had not turned her car over and put it out of action somewhere in the central Irish plain. The transport problem was solved, however, largely through the gallantry of the male members. Sincerest thanks are due to those members who put their cars at the disposal of the party; the meeting could not have taken the form which it did without their co-operation. We were delighted in the first week to have the company of the distinguished Swedish bryologist, Mrs Elsa Nyholm, and again in the second week to discover that Prof. P. W. Richards and his family were on holiday in Connemara and were able to join us for our last excursion.

18 August. Although the day was cloudy it was dry and members were anxious for a full-day excursion. Most of the day was spent on the limestone slopes and pavements in the vicinity of Blackhead at the north-west extremity of the Burren Hills (V.C. H.9). For a locality with such a strange mixture of rare vascular plants the bryophytes were disappointing but several new records were made: Riccia beyrichiana*, Preissia quadrata*, Solenostoma triste*, Leiocolea turbinata*, L. badensis*, Cololejeunea calcarea*, Gymnostomum aeruginosum*, and G. recurvirostrum*. During the afternoon the party moved southwards along the coast to a small area of sand-dunes near Murroogh. Here Fissidens crassipes* was found on boulders in the highly calcareous River Caher, along with Eucladium verticillatum and Scorpiurium circinatum. Other interesting species found during the day were Marchesinia mackaii, Pleurochaete squarrosa and Bryum rufifolium.

[* = New v.c. record]

19 August. It was decided to devote this day of low cloud and intermittent rain to an exploratory tour of V.C. H.l7. The first stop was made at a fen about 3 miles north of Galway City, on the Headford Road. Here, the water-level was low, and it was possible to penetrate well into the reed swamp. A number of new records were made, mainly from the lower zones: Riccardia pinguis*, Preissia quadrata*, Fissidens viridulus*, and Drepanocladus lycopodioides*.

A second stop was made to examine one of a group of raised bogs which occupy the low ground near the mouths of Rivers Clare and Cregg. The first plant to excite interest here was Campylopus introflexus, which was found growing on the cut surfaces of the peat in great abundance and with capsules. More new records were made, mainly of common species: Mylia anomala *, Odontoschisma sphagni*, O. denudatum*, Dicranella cerviculata*, Campylopus atrovirens*, C. brevipilus*, Brachythecium mildeanum* and Sphagnum subsecundum var. inundatum*.

A brief halt was next made at a small area of moist woodland near Grange and several more plants were added to the V.C. lists: Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Cololejeunea minutissima*, Frullania dilatata*, Bryum inclinatum*, Zygodon viridissimus var. viridissimus*, Amblystegium varium*, and Hypnum cupressiforme var. resupinatum*. Among the other plants collected here was Zygodon conoideus, a plant which was frequently to be seen again during the fortnight.

The last main stopping place for the party was the turlough at Killower, 4 miles west of Tuam. The ground on the eastern side was made up of thin layers of fen peat interbedded with highly calcareous marl and in the sparse turf here were recorded Reboulia hemisphaerica, Moerkia flotowiana*, Pellia fabroniana*, Leiocolea badensis*, Pohlia delicatula*, Bryum neodamense, Amblyodon dealbatus*, Breutelia chrysocoma*, Hypnum cupressiforme var. tectorum* and Hylocomium brevirostre*. Despite the rain Mrs Nyholm and Mr Crundwell delayed the return of one car to look for Bryum salinum* on the salt-marshes several miles east of Galway City. They not only found it, but they also added Tortella flavovirens* to the day’s records.

20 August. After a pleasant run the party left the cars just above Strahnalong to the south-west of Maumtrasna. The day was spent in exploring the attractive valley on the east side of Skeltia (1926 ft.). As we were now in West Mayo (V.C. H.27) few new records were expected, but some interesting plants were found. Rocks in the stream yielded Bryum mildeanum*, and on the thin blanket bog of the valley Miss Lobley found Nowellia curvifolia, Dicranella cerviculata*, Amblyodon dealbatus, and Sphagnum strictum*. More interesting finds were made among the boulders at the foot of the cliffs and on the rocks of the cliffs themselves: Plagiochila tridenticulata, Bazzania bicrenata, B. pearsoni, Herberta hutchinsiae, Radula aquilegia, Colura calyptrifolia, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Harpalejeunea ovata, Oligotrichum hercynicum var. laxum*, Campylopus setifolius*, Trichostomum hibernicum*, Pohlia nutans*, P. annotina*, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides and Ctenidium molluscum var. condensatum*. Those who negotiated the steep ground at the head of the valley and reached the summit plateau were rewarded by the sight of deep blanket peat undergoing rapid erosion, a sight common to many Irish hills. Two more records were added from the high ground: Polytrichum alpestre* and Acrocladium sarmentosum*.

21 August. Efforts were concentrated today on the exploration of Garryland Wood, a few miles north-west of Gort, in South Galway (V.C. H. 15). The wood has a very long history and it differs from many other ‘crag-land woods’ in possessing, at least in parts, a soil from which the calcium carbonate has been more or less completely leached out of the superficial horizons. Although a considerable acreage has been planted with larch, pine and spruce, there is so much natural regeneration of ash and beech and so many groups of the older trees left standing that a wide variety of habitats is still provided. The more low-lying parts form a series of turloughs, each with its own water regime. At the time of our visit one such depression had the appearance of a moist pasture, another appeared as an extensive lake. The woods themselves, the rides, and the small patches of exposed limestone soon yielded new records: Riccia sorocorpa*, Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Lophocolea fragrans*, Cololejeunea minutissima*, Marchesinia mackaii*, Barbula reflexa*, Pohlia albicans*, Zygodon conoideus*, Orthotrichum affine*, Homalia trichomanoides*, Thuidium delicatulum*, Campylium chrysophyllum*, Drepanocladus uncinatus*, Rhynchostegiella tenella* and Hypnum cupressiforme var. tectorum*. The very large range of water level was indicated strikingly by the height to which Cinclidotus fontinaloides and Leskea polycarpa* grew as epiphytes on the larger trees surrounding the turloughs. The turloughs themselves were productive : Porella cordeana*, Physcomitrella patens*, Pohlia delicatula*, Mnium rugicum*, and Amblystegium varium*.

22 August. A second day was spent in Co. Clare (V.C. H. 9), and the main object of our attention was the relict ash wood on the sheltered south-east facing cliffs of Slievecarran, along the east side of the Burren Hills. Except where disturbed by the instability of the cliff the wood itself is dense enough to possess a distinct shade flora. On the earthy slopes and bare pavements below it there is a great deal of hazel scrub which varies considerably in height and in density. Mr Crundwell soon reported Ulota vittata* growing on the hazel, but the two most interesting finds of the day, Seligeria doniana* and Anomobryum concinnatum*, only came to light when Mrs Appleyard examined her gatherings some months later. In addition to the Ulota the trees and shrubs yielded Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Lejeunea ulicina* and Orthotrichum striatum*. Limestone boulders in the shade of the hazel scrub yielded Cololejeunea rossettiana*, Fissidens minutulus* Sull. sec. Braithw., Barbula spadicea*, Thuidium delicatulum*, Amblystegium confervoides*, Brachythecium glareosum*, and Isopterygium depressum* Two more records were made from the small patches of short pasture maintained by the sheep amongst the hazel: Physcomitrella patens* and Pohlia albicans*.

23 August. From an examination of the Census Catalogues it was clear that little attention had been paid to the relatively small area of non-calcareous ground in V.C. H. 15. By way of remedying this deficiency it was decided to spend a day exploring the valley of the Owendalulleegh River on the west side of the Slieve Aughty Mountains, the solid geology here being Devonian Sandstone. The search began in Chevy Chase, an area of estate woodland now largely replanted and carrying young conifers. The rides proved productive, with Riccia glauca*, Fossombronia wondraczeki*, Ditrichum cylindricum*, Pseudephemerum nitidum* and Pottia truncata*. Epiphytic species were only abundant in the older stands, but here Neckera pumila was strikingly luxuriant and several new records were made: Lejeunea patens*, Lejeunea ulicina*, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia*, Harpalejeunea ovata*, and Zygodon conoideus*. Other species recorded from the woods were: Riccardia palmata*, Plagiochila asplenioides var. major*, Lophocolea cuspidata*, Calypogeia fissa*, C. arguta*, Nowellia curvifolia*, Polytrichum gracile* and Anomobryum filiforme*.

After lunch one half of the party moved up on to the hill above the woods to examine the thin blanket bog and recorded: Dicranella heteromalla*, Campylopus setifolius*, C. brevipilus*, Funaria obtusa*, Bryum argenteum* (roadside), Ulota americana* (boulders), Sphagnum compactum*, S. contortum*, S. rubellum*, S. nemoreum* and S. molle*. The other half of the party descended on to the limestone plain and examined a series of localities near Lough Cultra. The first was an area of fen carr; Cryphaea heteromalla* and Acrocladium cordifolium* were gathered here. Nearby where the fen peat was overlain by a thin layer of moss peat Cephalozia connivens* and Brachythecium mildeanum* were recorded. A quick halt by a small rock outcrop near Killafeen added Barbula hornschuchiana* and Rhacomitrium canescens*. The party was re-united at the Punchbowl where the outflow from Lough Cultra passes underground. The rocky stream bed itself yielded Porella pinnata*, Marchesinia mackaii, Lejeunea lamacerina var. azorica, Fissidens pusillus*, Hygroamblystegium tenax*, Eurhynchium riparioides*, Rhynchostegiella pallidirostra*, and R. teesdalei*. The surrounding woodland contributed Pellia fabroniana* Scapania aspera*, Tortula marginata*, Barbula reflexa and Trichostomum sinuosum*.

24 August. The move to Clifden was completed during the morning and a short afternoon excursion was planned to Doon Hill and Bunowen Bay to the south-west of Ballyconeely. Members had scarcely left the cars when they were scattered by an extremely heavy shower of rain. This brought the excursion to a premature end but not before Mr Crundwell had collected Bryum pendulum* and Campylium chrysophyllum*.

During the following week those members actually staying in the town of Clifden found time to examine its bryophyte flora. From a variety of habitats they listed Aloina ambigua*, Phascum cuspidatum*, Barbula convoluta var. commutata*, Pohlia delicatula*, Eurhynchium swartzii*, E. confertum* and Hypnum patientiae*.

25 August. The morning was spent in exploring the riverside woods near Tullywee Bridge, about 2 miles west of Kylemore. The woods themselves were disappointing, but voucher specimens of Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Plagiochila asplenioides var. major*, Cephaloziella starkii* and Lepidozia reptans* were collected. The roadside walls and banks were as productive with: Riccardia multifida*, Pellia fabroniana*, Anthoceros laevis* and Gymnostomum calcareum*.

In the afternoon the party moved on to Lough Fee. We stopped long enough on a monotonous piece of blanket bog near the southern end of the lough for Miss Lobley to collect Nowellia curvifolia, Odontoschisma denudatum* and Sphagnum subsecundum*, and then motored on leaving the cars between Lough Fee and Lough Muck. Members now scattered to explore the north-eastern side of Benchoona and the steep valley between it and Garraun. The oceanic influence was seen particularly on the more northerly slopes of Benchoona, where stones projecting from the short mountain turf were half covered by Hymenophyllum wilsoni, Plagiochila spinulosa, Bazzania tricrenata and Scapania gracilis. Among the many interesting species seen were Fossombronia foveolata, Marsupella aquatica*, Solenostoma pumilum*, Lophozia quinquedentata*, Mylia cuneifolia, Herberta hutchinsiae, Radula aquilegia, Colura calyptrifolia, Jubula hutchinsiae, Barbula ferruginascens*, Trichostomum hibernicum, Leptodontium recurvifolium*, Bryum mildeanum*, Isopterygium elegans*, Hypnum callichroum* and Hylocomium umbratum*. Before we left, two more records were made by the shores of Lough Muck: Archidium alternifolium* and Funaria hygrometrica*.

26 August. Exciting discoveries were expected from our visit to the woodlands at Ballynahinch. We knew that the area had been maintained as a wooded estate since early times and that neglected oak scrub extended down to the lough shore. After consultation with Mr P. M. O’Flaherty, the forester-in-charge, we decided to concentrate our attention on an area of lough-side woods not far from the castle and on a wooded ravine at the western end. A few interesting plants were found in the woodland, e.g. Lophocolea fragrans, Trichocolea tomentella, Ulota vittata* and Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum*, but most of the new records made came from the streams and roadsides: Riccia warnstorfii*, R. glauca*, R. sorocarpa*, Fossombronia pusilla*, F. caespitiformis*, Calypogeia fissa*, Lejeunea lamacerina var. lamacerina*, Fissidens pusillus*, Ditrichum cylindricum*, Barbula hornschuchiana*, Bryum bicolor var. gracilentum* and Brachythecium plumosum*. The day taught us to take nothing for granted in Ireland.

27 August. Two very different types of country were included in the day’s itinerary, the sand-dunes and maritime grassland of Dog’s Bay and the bog-land to the north of Errisbeg: both near Roundstone. The short turf and rocks at Dog’s Bay yielded: Porella thuja, Frullania germana, Chiloscyphus pallescens,* Barbula rigidula*, Mnium cuspidatum*, Orthotrichum rupestre, O. cupulatum, Thuidium philiberti*, Amblystegium serpens var. salinum*, Drepanocladus aduncus*, Brachythecium mildeanum* and Hypnum cupressiforme vars. tectorum* and lacunosum*. Two members were tempted to the top of Errisbeg but had little to report when they rejoined the party beyond a wonderful view. The remainder worked westwards from the neighbour-hood of Letterdife House across a mosaic of bog types. Members were able to see something of the strange behaviour of such plants as Phragmites, Schoenus, Cladium and Carex lasiocarpa on these western Irish bogs. The rarer Sphagna were searched for hopefully but only Sphagnum pulchrum* and S. subsecundum var. inundatum* could be added to the day’s list.

28 August. The Twelve Pins presented a problem, both of size and accessibility. This was met by the formation of two small parties; one directed at Ben Lettery from the road in the south and the other at Muchanaght along the line of the Kylemore River, from the north-east. Both groups found good ground and had interesting finds to report. The Ben Lettery group recorded Blasia pusilla*, Anastrepta orcadensis, Herberta hurchinsiae, Scapania irrigua*, Trichostomum hibernicum, Isothecium myosuroides var. brachythecioides, Orthothecium intricatum, Isopterygium pulchellum*, Sphagnum strictum*, S. quinquefarium and S. molle*. Mr R. Lewis followed the summit of the quartzite ridge to find Dicranodontium uncinatum* on Bengower. In the north Mr Crundwell, following a hunch, crossed the steep slopes above Glencorbet and made for Benbaun. On a small outcrop of highly calcareous rock at about 700ft. he found Leiocolea muelleri*, Scapania aspera, Cololejeunea calcarea*, Gymnostomum calcareum, Mnium orthorhynchum* and M. marginatum*. On the north side of Benbaun, at about 1500 ft., were Mastigophora woodsii*, Scapania ornithopodioides, Radula aquilegia, Dicranodontium denudatum* and Orthothecium intricatum. The weathering schist on the north side of Muchanaght, extending up to about 2000 ft., carried most of the species noted on non-calcareous rock elsewhere and also: Bazzania pearsoni*, Scapania aequiloba*, Porella laevigata*, Polytrichum alpinum, Rhabdoweissia fugax, R. crenulata, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Splachnum ovatum*, Pohlia cruda*, Pohlia rothii* and Hylocomium umbratum.

29 August. The woods around Kylemore Castle had been expected to prove very productive, but after our experiences at Tullywee Bridge and Ballynahinch we were less optimistic. Some interesting plants were found, however, including: Hygrobiella laxifolia, Radula voluta, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Lejeunea holtii*, Harpalejeunea ovata, Marchesinia mackaii, Jubula hutchinsiae, Frullania microphylla, F. fragillifolia*, Fissidens pusillus, F. taxifolius*, Zygodon conoideus and Hypnum cupressiforme var. mamillatum*. The party separated into two groups for the afternoon; one group returned to the area of Lough Fee, where they recorded Grimmia retracta* and Bryum obconicum*; the other went to the low ground lying north of Lough Inagh. Two of the second party penetrated as far as the corrie north of Bencollaghduff and recorded: Riccardia sinuata*, Solenostoma sphaerocarpa*, Lepidozia trichoclados*, Dicranodontium uncinatum and Hylocomium umbratum.

30 August. Lissoughter, a low isolated hill just east of the Twelve Pins, was chosen as the scene of our final excursion. The weather was bad as we slowly climbed the west side looking for signs of base-rich rocks. Although we found low cliffs with Asplenium viride and Saxifraga oppositifolia, the bryophytes were disappointing, the most interesting being: Diphyscium foliosum, Grimmia funalis, Glyphomitrium daviesii and Ulota americana. Some members had to leave in the early afternoon, but a small party was left to examine the woodland at the north end of Derryclare Lough. The woods yielded: Frullania germana, Eucladium verticillatum*, Zygodon conoideus, Isothecium striatulum* and Isopterygium depressum. Grimmia retracta and G. decipiens were collected from boulders on the lough shore.

I should like to express the thanks of the party to The Very Reverend, The Lady Abbess at Kylemore, to the Forestry Division of the Department of Lands and their foresters Mr P. M. O’Flaherty and Mr T. P. Cox for facilitating our visits to Kylemore woods, Ballynahinch, Garryland Wood and Chevy Chase, respectively. I should like also to add my personal thanks to the members attending the meeting for their cheerful co-operation while they were in Ireland and subsequently for their help in the preparation of this account. The small number attending, the mobility of the party, and the large number of new records to be made gave the meeting a distinctive character. Although our finds excel in quantity rather than in quality perhaps we have demonstrated the value of this type of meeting in dealing with the more poorly recorded parts of the British Isles.

R. E. Parker

NOTE This account was prepared before all the plants listed in it as N.C.R.’s had been checked, and accepted by the recorders. Census Catalogues should therefore be amended only by reference to the lists of N.C.R.’s prepared by the recorders.