Summer meeting 1983: Kenmare, Kerry

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1983: Kenmare, Kerry

27 July 1983 - 3 August 1983

Meeting report

Kenmare, apart from its idyllic setting on the Ring of Kerry, is also noted for its pubs, eating places and the availability of live “Irish music”. All of these were sampled in varying degrees of willingness by the fifteen people who attended the second week of the summer meeting. The strong Irish influence present during the first week was replaced by an august car load from across the water, giving us English a slight numerical advantage over the strong Continental contingent. The headquarters hotel was not ideal seemingly having sacrificed itself to the coach trade, although the music which reverberated through the building each evening was on occasion acceptable (at least to me), a term which could not really be applied to the landlord’s poetry! Of those not resident in the headquarters, two stayed in palatial guest houses, whilst the rest of us camped; the Dutch party on a site that was scenic and expensive and Ms Schaepe and I on one that was singularly esoteric but very cheap. The weather was good, the oppresive humidity of the first week had gone and the small amount of rain had the virtue of wetting out the more exposed bryophytes. For those with a statistical bent the total number of species seen during the week was 343, with 9 confirmed vice- county records and one species, Fissidens rivularis, new to Ireland. The chief pleasure for me was to become more familiar with species like Jubula hutchinsiae, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Aphanolejeunea microscopica and Colura calyptrifolia, which were seen nearly every day, and also to be able to call upon the depth of knowledge possessed by those present, to set my identification problems into some sort of context. The genial spirit of the two weeks was due in no small part to Donal Synnott’s hard work and his ability to render the necessary organisation relatively inconspicuous and, of course, to the Guinness!

27 July. The Move to Kenmare via Torc Cascade (00/9684 H2) and Muckcross Island (00/9586 H2).

Most of the survivors of the first week paid brief respects to Torc Cascade. The level of tourist pressure and the unsympathetic afforestation were rather depressing, but many of the rare species are still apparent, at least to the skilled observer. Dumortiera hirsuta was magnificent in fruit and Acrobolbus wilsonii, Radula holtii, R. carringtonii, Lejeunea hibernica and L. holtii were refound. After lunch with wasps and tourists, the limestone on Muckcross was visited. Our objective, Doo Lough, was rather disappointing as were the dry limestone blocks in the woodland, giving an abundance rather than a variety of bryophytes. The large patches of Marchesinia mackaii gave me real pleasure as I had only seen it before in very small quantity. Also of interest were the pale green shoots of Cololejeunea rossettiana, epiphytic on Thamnobryum alopecurum and Telaranea nematodes on humus under birches.

Accommodation problems having been settled, the full group met in the headquarters hotel where the level of conversation varied directly with the level of the loud bass guitar which seems to be the prerequisite of “Irish Country ‘n’ Western” music.

28 July. Looscaunagh Woods (00/8981 H1) and Woodland on the Galway River above Galway Bridge (00/9179 H2).

Looscaunagh Woods were approached through Derrycunihy Woods where the extent of the “pervasive ponticum” was very sad, although attempts at control are evident. Looscaunagh itself, is a patchy oak woodland on steep ground above the upper lake and was, like everywhere else this summer, very dry open glaciated slabs between the lake and the wood gave Campylopus polytrichoides and a boggy pool gave Donal a chance to demonstrate brown Sphagnum, resembling S. subfulvum. Once in the wood, the party became rather spread out but several groups coalesced for lunch and then explored a dry stream bed and associated crags, which gave a good list. The more open rocks had both Sematophyllum micans and S. demissum, while the stream bed yielded Fissidens taxifolius ssp. pallidicaulis, Oxystegus hibernicus, Leptoscyphus cuneifolius, Lejeunea hibernica, Colura calyptrifolia and Jubula hutchinsiae. On the woodland floor Telaranea nematodes was relatively frequent.

The woodland upstream of Galway Bridge would clearly repay a longer visit than we were able to give it. Access through the Rhododendrons was not promising, but the woodland close to the burn was excellent, having much the same flora as Looscaunagh. The rocks on either side of the burn for 300 m had an abundance of Sematophyllum demissum, while copper coloured patches of Radula aquilegia were common on rocks in the burn itself. Plagiochila atlantica was found on a holly in a sheltered glade.

29 July. Horses Glen, Mangerton Mountain (00/9980-9982 H2)

Horses Glen is a valley of three loughs – in order of ascending height Lough Garragarry, Lough Menagh and Lough Erhogh. The approach to the Glen was somewhat complex and Mr and Mrs Rubers and Huub van Melick became separated from the rest of the party and were glimpsed only distantly. The day started clear and sunny and several pairs of off-white knees braved the initial gorse-ridden path. However a rapid build-up of cloud put paid to any thoughts of a swim and the day remained overcast and damp. The shores of Lough Garragarry were greeted with attitudes of supplication which seem inevitable in the search for Haplomitrium hookeri. A chilly lunch was taken on the shores of Lough Menagh and nearby rocks gave Dryptodon patens and Glyphomitrium daviesii. The rocky burn that tumbled down from Lough Erhogh looked promising and during the ascent produced Leptodontium recurvifolium, Jungermannia hyalina, Hygrobiella laxifolia, Radula voluta, R. carringtonii, R. lindbergiana, Porella obtusata, Lejeunea holtii and Jubula hutchinsiae. The block scree and the upper coire had a small amount of Anastrepta orcadensis, more of Mastigophora woodsii and ledges full of Herberta aduncus ssp. hutchinsiae and Pleurozia purpurea. Above Lough Erhogh, Jean Paton found Scapania scandica.

30 July. Ross Island (00/9488 H2)

This is essentially a large woodland garden associated with the Castle and incidentally is a peninsula jutting out into Lough Leane. The attraction for us was the limestone on the lough shore and the existence of some old copper mines which seem to have a strong fascination for bryologists. The low level of the lough allowed simple scrambling over the boulders on the southern shore and these were thoroughly scoured. Scorpiurium circinatum was abundant on the upper rocks along with Marchesinia mackaii and Anomodon viticulosus. The dry pendent mats of Thamnobryum alopecurum on the lower boulders were examined for the smaller Lejeuneaceae and yielded the more common species and Lejeunea holtii. These rocks also gave David Long Fissidens rivularis, new to Ireland, while Jean Paton found Tortella nitida. The copper mines were disappointing, with little in the way of spoil heaps, though they provided a pleasant lunch spot and one of the lagoons enabled Rod Stern to have a preparatory dip before launching forth into Lough Leane itself. Some rocks near the lunch spot gave Jean Paton the chance to demonstrate a convincing candidate for Plagiochila britannica, with P. porelloides close at hand for comparison. The woodland was very dry but produced Cryphaea heteromalla and Scapania aspera.

In the afternoon the group split; one group going to re-examine the woods above Galway Bridge and the rest to accompany Donal on a pilgrimage to the only Kerry site for Sphagnum pulchrum. The walk to see the Sphagnum in Cores Bog (00/9481 H2) was longer than expected as the bog proved rather more difficult to find than the plant. Being one who is inclined, literally and metaphorically, to edge around Sphagnum with some suspicion, I was impressed with the distinction and beauty of S. pulchrum, a plant worthy of pilgrimage. As indeed was the superb raised bog with S. fuscum, S. imbricatum, Rhynchospora fusca and all three Drosera species.

31 July. Bellaghbeama Gap (00/7478 H1) and the Northern Slopes of Mullaghanattin (00/7377 H1).

The winding road up to Bellaghbeama Gap was followed in a persistent drizzle. Burns near the Gap were checked in a successful attempt to re-locate Lejeunea holtii, seen there previously by Jean Paton; the search also turned up L. hibernica and Radula carringtonii. Moving westward over the Gap, the party then struck off across the hillside to the northern slopes of Mullaghanattin, an ‘unworked’ area. The initial burns and slopes gave little of interest save an indication of some calcareous ground, another site for the putative Sphagnum subfulvum and carpets of the small bell flower, Wahlenbergia hederacea. The weather cleared dramatically for lunch and in the afternoon bodies could be observed on the farthest flung ledges of the hill. The hill in general, and one gully line in particular, proved quite rich, giving perhaps the best composite card of the week. Acrobolbus wilsonii was found in two spots in wefts with Lejeunea hibernic a, and, in one case, also with Leptoscyphus cuneifolius. Anne-Marie Schaepe found Moerckia hibernica, new to Kerry, and in the same boggy patch David Long found Haplomitrium hookeri and Riccardia incurvata. A very wet scramble into one dark, dripping cleft was rewarded by Dumortiera hirsuta, well worth the discomfort. Other species of note in a long list were: Distichium capillaceum, Campylopus setifolius, Leptodontium recurvifolium, Grimmia torquata, Isopterygium pulchellum, Anastrepta orcadensis, Leiocolea alpestris, L. bantriensis, Sphenolobopsis pearsonii, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Scapania scandica, Mastigophora woodsii, Lejeunea holtii and Radula lindenbergiana. If the eyes were raised briefly from the ground in response to the raucous cries above, choughs could be seen wheeling from crag to crag; altogether an excellent day.

1 August. Rossmore Island (00/7565 H1) and Blackwater Bridge and River (00/7868 H1).

A day by the seaside proved a little disappointing, although several interesting plants were seen. Plants of note from the woodland on Rossmore Island were Metzgeria fruticulosa, Plagiochila killarniensis, Lophocolea fragrans, Cololejeunea minutissima and Frullania microphylla. A move was made back up the coast for lunch where a precipitous descent proved the undoing of one member, but happily the most severe damage seemed to be to a can of lemonade. At Blackwater Bridge Dumortiera hirsuta was dutifully refound and Jean Paton found Lejeunea holtii. Further upstream, on the banks and associated woodland, several interesting finds were made: Fissidens curnovii, Philonotis rigida and Jubula hutchinsiae. The party drifted apart during the afternoon seeking a variety of objectives, ranging from dubious Hypericums to lead mines and tea shops.

2 August.

Our last day was a sort of ‘free day’. A substantial group went to the woods at Five Mile Bridge (00/9383 H2) and then on to O’Sullivan’s Cascade (00/9684 H1) which most of this group had not seen on the first week. The desire to see Cyclodictyon laetevirens seemed to be the driving force behind this itinerary. However the Cascade was cascading again and this precluded an ascent. However, Dumortiera hirsuta was seen, a plant we had missed on the first visit.

The Continental team plus myself, were whisked away by Donal to the hills above the Healy Pass. The highest hill, Knockowen (00/8-5- H1) has a northern coire, a projecting ridge, Cushnafiacale (a beautiful name) and an unusual flower, and these were our objectives. The approach was made up a very pleasant valley, where the gravel by the burn enabled three of us to find Haplomitrium hookeri unaided by David Long, a considerable event! Where the gully steepened near the lip of the coire, a dripping cave yielded Cyclodictyon laetevirens for the first time on the Kenmare week, and in fruit. Above the coire the ground steepened and species of interest included: Campylopus schwarzii, C. shawii, Hylocomium umbratum, Douinia ovata and an abundance of Colura calyptrifolia. An interesting scramble debouched onto the summit ridge and Donal re- found his tiny flower.

In the evening a tour of the restaurants in Kenmare was ultimately successful in finding one capable of coping with our large party and the end of the meeting was celebrated in style.

G. P. Rothero


Kenmare, Kerry