Summer meeting 1999: Waterford and Wexford

HomeEventsSummer meeting 1999: Waterford and Wexford

8 August 1999 - 20 August 1999

Meeting report

The 1999 Summer Meeting was held in Ireland from 8 to 20 August. It was based at Dungarvan for the first week and at New Ross for the second week. As most of the people attending the meeting could only join part of it, daily numbers fluctuated. Present at various times were Tom Blockeel, Sinead Callaghan, Conor Clenehan, Maria Cullen, Helena Durwael, Howard Fox, Daniel Kelly, Neil Lockhart, Petra Mair, Margaret O’Brien, Grace O’Donovan, Claire Parkes, Roy Perry, Phil Stanley and Dan Wrench. A few participants took the opportunity to go to Killarney National Park and Dingle for a few days’ bryology in oceanic habitats. Results from these excursions to south-west Ireland, and fungal distractions throughout the BBS meeting, are not reported in detail here.

The British Bryological Society has previously held field meetings in south-east Ireland in Clonmel in 1966 (Synnott, 1967) and Arklow in 1975 (Synnott, 1976), when many vice-county records were made. Though fewer, the number of new records and updates made in 1999 was still substantial. Many interesting sites of very high quality and of conservation importance for mosses and liverworts in this region of Ireland were studied.

The first week of the meeting was spent entirely in Co. Waterford (VC H6), except for a small incursion across the boundary with East Cork (VC H5) during one afternoon.

Sunday 8 August

Lismore Woods and Owennashad River (S00)

We began in Lismore woods and the first observations were made in the car park, where the humid climate was nicely illustrated by Microlejeunea ulicina growing on the wooden picnic tables! Zygodon rupestris* was on a large oak here. The Atlantic flavour of the flora was soon indicated by Harpalejeunea molleri on the trees, Lophocolea fragrans on a damp stone, and the notable occurrence of Telaranea nematodes* under rhododendron. (Fortunately, because of their old and undisturbed nature and the lack of heavy grazing pressure, rhododendron has not taken strong hold in these woods.) Other species in the woods included Anthoceros punctatus by the main path, Zygodon conoideus* on an oak twig, and Leucobryum juniperoideum* and Plagiothecium denticulatum* on banks. We then went into the oak woods in the valley of the Owennashad River. This stunning area is an oasis for oceanic species, marred slightly by an unsightly dump of rubbish on a steep bank below the road. It was a surprise for many to see Breutelia chrysocoma growing happily on a wall-top! Dumortiera hirsuta and Jubula hutchinsiae were particularly impressive on a dripping rock bank with Saccogyna viticulosa and Trichocolea tomentella. Porella pinnata and Isothecium holtii were by the stream, and Plagiochila killarniensis and P. spinulosa on shaded rocks. Neckera pumila grew on trees. Other records included Nowellia curvifolia* and Riccardia palmata* on rotting wood, Bazzania trilobata* in the rocky woodland, and sterile Diphyscium foliosum* in a rocky cleft.

Monday 9 August

Mine Head, Ballymacart and Monaneea Lough (X28)

The objective was to record some unknown sites. We started at Mine Head, east of the lighthouse. Some descended the eutrophic ravine to the shore, finding Tortula viridifolia on an earthy ledge and Schistidium maritimum on rocks, while others ranged over disturbingly steep friable coastal crags. Scapania compacta and Lophozia excisa were found in a small disused quarry, and Plagiochila killarniensis* and Frullania microphylla* on a crag high on the slopes. For lunch we went on to Ballymacart, a lightly farmed and bushy valley, with tufa seeps into the river. This is a very pleasant area with lots of niches packed together, each with a good range of bryophytes. Young ash trees supported Cryphaea heteromalla, Neckera pumila and Cololejeunea minutissima. Leiocolea turbinata* was on tufa, and colonists of bare soil included Ephemerum serratum var. minutissimum, Bryum subapiculatum* and B. klinggraeffii*. The most unexpected find was a second Irish station for Fissidens rivularis*, growing on rocks in the stream under the roadbridge. In the late afternoon we went on to Monaneea Lough, passing through conifer clearfell before crossing the rushy bog, alive with wasps, which supported several Sphagnum species together with Odontoschisma sphagni*, and both Warnstorfia fluitans* and W. exannulata*.

Tuesday 10 August

Coumfea and Coumalocha (S20, S21)

We went into the Comeragh mountains and visited Coumfea and Coumalocha, parking in the Nier Valley. Neil Lockhart joined us for the day, and with his help we began the day with an unsuccessful search for Hamatocaulis vernicosus, known to occur here, but we probably joined the R. Nier at too high a point. Dicranum scottianum was seen on boulders during the ascent, but most of the bryology began after the tramp upslope at the moraine blocks and the corrie lake at Coumfea. Both Barbilophozia floerkei* and B. atlantica* were found here, the latter in apparently only its second confirmed Irish station. Also on rocks about the lake were Hedwigia stellata, Racomitrium sudeticum* and Jubula hutchinsiae. The cliff behind the lake was a rewarding place to eat lunch, and though not especially rich in bryophytes produced a little Gymnomitrion crenulatum, Rhabdoweisia crenulata, and in a gully Anoectangium aestivum*. Colura calyptrifolia was an exciting find on the bare rock. One or two bryologists traversed around the next coum recording the very few Atlantic hepatics left (including a little Bazzania tricrenata). The sheep have almost totally removed the protective heather cover on wet and damp steep slopes, and as a result the Atlantic hepatic mats are drying and dying out in this part of the Comeragh mountain range. The paternoster lake shores were quite engaging, with much Isothecium holtii, and one participant swam in a lake. Pohlia bulbifera* was found on dried-out peat in an overspill pool. On the return downslope more time was spent in an effort to relocate Hamatocaulis vernicosus, this time successfully in another known site on the slopes below Sgilloge Lochs.

Owennashad River (X09)

Roy and Phil later explored the E bank of the Owennashad River just N of Lismore. Here there is a public path in open wet woodland with broadleaved trees and shaded sandstone boulders. Lophocolea fragrans was on a decorticated log, and Hookeria lucens, Dumortiera hirsuta and Saccogyna viticulosa were on shaded soil on a bank under rhododendron.

Wednesday 11 August

Various localities in Co. Kerry

Roy and Phil left on this day of the solar eclipse for a few days’ bryologising in Co. Kerry (VCs H1 and H2). Here, over the course of three days, they saw many of the exciting bryophytes that this part of Ireland is renowned for, including Telaranea nematodes, Cephalozia hibernica, Eremonotus myriocarpus, Sematophyllum demissum, S. micans and of course Dumortiera hirsuta, with male and female receptacles; they also recorded the adventives Leptotheca gaudichaudii Schwaegr. and Calomnion complanatum (Hook.f. & Wils.) Lindb. on the trunks of tree ferns, probably introduced from Australasia. The classic site, Torc Waterfall (VC H2, V9784), is within easy reach of Killarney and is now a major tourist attraction with the inevitable car park. However, Roy and Phil saw most of the bryophytes for which it is famous and the bryologically interesting habitats are more-or-less intact. Amongst other localities they visited the broadleaved woodland (oak/holly/birch) at Galway’s Bridge (VC H2, V9180) on the N side of the Galway’s River and found that the rhododendron had been cut down and removed, leaving a pitiful open community which will take a long time to recuperate. The same was observed in Derrycunihy Wood further west, made famous in the 1930s by Paul Richards. It is to be hoped that the rhododendron will not be allowed to re-invade the sites and their stumps be destroyed, and that the re-establishment of native trees is encouraged.

Glendine Woods (X08)

Back in Waterford, the main party visited Glendine Woods. We were joined for the first part of this wet day by Margaret O’Brien, the head gardener. We studied the river just above tidal influence in the estuary, in deep shade of the woods. Despite the thick cloud cover and rain, we sensed the much heralded solar eclipse darkening the sky at 11.11 a.m. In spite of the gloom, Dumortiera hirsuta, Lophocolea fragrans, Plagiochila spinulosa, Porella pinnata, Jubula hutchinsiae and Lejeunea holtii were found, showing the richness of the riverside banks. However, the owners are distressed by the deteriorating water quality, resulting from an elevated sediment load engineered upstream. The impact is most directly seen by examining the response of a few species of saxicolous fluvial-zone hepatics. The shoots and leaves of Porella pinnata, for example, were unusually scrappy; the damage was caused by sediment scouring. Other species noted in the woods included Porella arboris-vitae, Neckera pumila, Trichocolea tomentella and Cololejeunea minutissima.

Tallow Bridge (X09) and R. Bride (W99)

In the afternoon, we studied some very different habitats. A flood meadow east of Tallow Bridge was muddy and produced Physcomitrium pyriforme*, Aphanorhegma patens*, Bryum klinggraeffii and Leptobryum pyriforme*. However, we were prevented by deep watery ditches from entering the wet woodland which had been our objective. At Tallow Bridge, wall mortar produced Gymnostomum viridulum, and the bridge foundations supported Fissidens crassipes* at water level. We examined the banks of the R. Bride at several points, including a small stretch within East Cork (VC H5). These banks proved to have a very interesting riparian flora, with Syntrichia latifolia* (H5 and H6), Didymodon nicholsonii, Orthotrichum sprucei* (H5 and H6), O. rivulare* (H5) and Leskea polycarpa* (H5), all in good quantity. Epiphytes higher up the tree trunks included Syntrichia papillosa* (H6) and Cryphaea heteromalla.

Thursday 12 August

Coomshingaun (S31)

The day was spent in Coomshingaun, ending at the steep ground and imposing cliffs on the south side of the lough. This area is still of superb quality, as first indicated by the 1966 BBS visit (Synnott, 1967), and the hepatics and mosses were very engaging. For most of us, this was the best locality of the week, and happily the corrie was found to have been less severely damaged by sheep grazing than at Coumfea. We spent all of the morning on the bouldery slopes below the corrie, an area with many springs and rivulets among the rocks. Atlantic species were much in evidence, with Lepidozia cupressina, Plagiochila punctata, P. spinulosa, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Dicranum scottianum and Isothecium holtii. Particularly pleasing were the excellent patches of Lejeunea holtii growing with Jubula hutchinsiae on rocks by the rivulets. Some of the boulders were strongly base-enriched and supported Hedwigia integrifolia, Pterogonium gracile, Porella obtusata and P. arboris-vitae, as well as commoner calcicoles. Trichocolea tomentella was also found.

In the afternoon we proceeded along the rock walls on the south side of the corrie. These were strongly acidic and produced Grimmia curvata, Cynodontium bruntonii and Rhabdoweisia crenulata. Late in the day a few of us reached the gully in the south-western corner of the corrie, which proved to be very exciting. There were indications of base-enrichment, and we saw Palustriella commutata var. commutata* for the first time during the week. There was a fine array of Atlantic liverworts here: Herbertus aduncus subsp. hutchinsiae (sparsely), Bazzania tricrenata, Plagiochila exigua*, Radula voluta, R. aquilegia, Colura calyptrifolia, Aphanolejeunea microscopica, Harpalejeunea molleri, Drepanolejeunea hamatifolia, Jubula hutchinsiae, Frullania teneriffae and F. fragilifolia. The mosses included Anoectangium aestivum. It was late in the day and we had to leave this excellent place sooner than we wished, sensing that there was much we had not yet seen.

Friday 13 August

Fenor Bog (S50)

A foray into Fenor Bog revealed rather few species between the large fen tussocks, both on trees and at groundwater level. One highlight was the fen specialist Calliergon giganteum*. The concrete well cap on the way in added Syntrichia papillosa. However, this is quite a swampy place to get around in, and we probably missed a few species. A few more bryophytes were scraped up in the adjacent conifer stand, including Orthodontium lineare* and Cololejeunea minutissima.

Tramore Burrow (S60) and Bunmahon (X49)

We moved on for lunch, and spent the afternoon on Tramore Burrow, a rather inhospitable saline place for mosses, with Hennediella heimii. The sand dunes were mostly very dry, but Tortella flavovirens was present. In the evening, the Bunmahon coast and mines were studied, and Cephaloziella massalongi was refound by Dan Wrench after an intrepid descent into a deep rocky hole. An old mine adit was stained bright blue by the copper deposits.

Saturday 14 August

At the end of the first week, we moved on to New Ross and Co. Wexford (VC H12). In the morning we had to bid farewell to Tom Blockeel, and later in the day to Dan Wrench.

Ballyknockcrumpin and R. Barrow (S73)

On his return north after leaving the rest of the party at New Ross, Tom recorded at two places in the extreme south of Co. Carlow (VC H13). The first site was at Ballyknockcrumpin on the north bank of the Pollymounty River, which forms the county boundary for a short distance here with Co. Wexford. The stream is bordered by scrubby woodland and is unexceptional, and the discovery of Lejeunea holtii* on a boulder near water level was therefore a big surprise. Porella pinnata* nearby was the only other strongly Atlantic species present. Amblystegium fluviatile, Fontinalis squamosa and Fissidens pusillus* were in and by the stream, and Heterocladium heteropterum var. flaccidum* was on a small boulder in the woodland. The epiphytic flora was rather rich, with Metzgeria fruticulosa*, Cololejeunea minutissima*, Microlejeunea ulicina*, Orthotrichum pulchellum*, Zygodon conoideus*, Cryphaea heteromalla, Neckera pumila* and Hypnum andoi*. The second site was on the banks of the River Barrow at St Mullin’s. Tortula marginata* and Eurhynchium crassinervium* were on a derelict building and mortared bridge respectively, and Anomodon viticulosus* on the embankment wall by the river. A little to the north, Orthotrichum cupulatum var. riparium* was on sycamore on the river bank. Wet ground by a section of canal had Jungermannia pumila (surprisingly on damp humus), Cololejeunea minutissima on Salix, and Leptodictyum riparium* on a log. The canal path had Physcomitrium pyriforme and several ruderals, including Dicranella staphylina*, Tortula acaulon*, Bryum subapiculatum*, B. klinggraeffii and B. violaceum*. A copse, mainly planted with conifers, produced Leucobryum juniperoideum* and, on a trackside bank, Bryum sauteri and Fissidens bryoides*.

New Ross and environs

Meanwhile, the remainder of the party in New Ross spent the morning looking about Rosbercon on walls in the town, and along the east bank of the Barrow upstream from New Ross. In the late afternoon, they visited Ballyanne wood, a wooded patch just above tidal influence in a creek off the Barrow estuary. This place is still humid, despite having the timber recently cut out of it for firewood, and it has most of the pioneer corticolous hepatics one could expect.

Sunday 15 August

The second week of the meeting was less productive, mainly because of the small number of participants and a drift away to the attractions of Killarney in the latter part of the week. Only a brief account of the itinerary can be given here.

Various localities (S93)

The travellers from Kerry (Roy and Phil) were now back and went on a general tour of Wexford (VC H12) in order to fill in field record cards in areas previously unrecorded: Carrig graveyard S of Enniscorthy, The Soldiers Hole and the Boro River SW of Enniscorthy (which had vast quantities of Metzgeria fruticulosa), Bree Hill, and Raheennahoon Hill, the latter two forestry plantations with grassy forest tracks, were all visited.

Mount Leinster

The main party went to Mount Leinster. The bryology here was a bit of a struggle, though the Urrin flushes were wet. The heather turf on the mountain slopes was generally dry and burnt, but once we got to the cloud base above 500 m and on towards the summit, granite blocks were fine for Racomitrium, and the wet lips of peat hags were quite rich.

Monday 16 August

Great Saltee Island (X99)

This sunny day was spent by the main party on Great Saltee Island, recorded for its bryophytes by H.W. Lett in 1913. Mosses and hepatics were hard to find, largely because the island is so dry and bracken infested. We followed Lett’s advice on where the best damp ground was, and we looked at trees and ruins around the well by the house, along the boulder clay bank on the north coast, and in drainage ditches between fields. A few species were found in short turf near the Prince’s Seat. The bryophytes were poor, and we barely found half the species listed by Lett. The rest of the day was spent pursuing seals, gannets and coastal plants.

Various localities (S92)

Roy and Phil recorded bryophytes in S92, visiting a spruce plantation with wet hollows 5 km NW of Barntown and a green lane S of Harristown. Later, the lane to St Munna’s Well, W of Browncastle Bridge, was worked. Here, steeply-banked lanes with dripping shale rock cuttings provided a pleasant bryological venue.

Tuesday 17 August

Doo Lough (T12)

The morning was spent in Doo Lough kettlehole. The vegetation was remarkably intact with limited grazing pressure. The Sphagnum carpet (which included S. capillifolium, S. denticulatum, S. fimbriatum, S. inundatum, S. palustre and S. papillosum) was interspersed with Aulacomnium palustre, Polytrichum commune and Calliergon stramineum. Odontoschisma sphagni turned up in open areas in the centre, and the sallows supported Ulota phyllantha and Cryphaea heteromalla. Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua was on a bank at a field edge. We met the farmer who owns this bog, and had an interesting discussion on agricultural policy and conservation.

The Raven (T12)

Later we went to The Raven, sand dunes on the east Wexford coast, for lunch, and looked around the dune system afterwards. Tortella flavovirens was found, but the dune bryophyte carpet and conifer plantation did not sustain our interest long, and with the failure to locate damp slacks, we moved on.

River Sow (T02)

In the evening, we visited a damp estuarine wood on the River Sow, a creek in the inner Wexford Harbour 1.5 km WNW of Castlebridge. Here there is a deeply shaded broadleaved woodland on the south bank of the river. We were thankful for waterproof boots, because the ground was extremely muddy, but we were rewarded with Dumortiera hirsuta, which grew in several places on the muddy river bank not far from Pellia neesiana. Radula complanata and fruiting Physcomitrium pyriforme were other finds.

Wednesday 18 August

Hook Peninsula and Slade Castle (X79)

A valiant attempt was made to find bryophytes on the Hook Peninsula, where we examined the very exposed coastal walltops near the lighthouse, with no reward. A small group looked at the ruin of St Dubhán’s church a little further inland but their only success was interesting a local holiday maker in mosses growing on his cottage wall; he became very enthusiastic when offered a lens to examine moistened Syntrichia ruralis. Later, Slade Castle nearby was explored, but unsuccessfully. Part of the afternoon was spent looking at and photographing Cottonweed Otanthus maritimus on Lady’s Island (T10), now confined to this locality in the British Isles.

John F. Kennedy Arboretum (S71)

Roy and Phil, again sensing a lack of records in another grid square, made for the John F. Kennedy Arboretum south of New Ross where they searched diligently on and among the planted trees. Their complete list of 18 species, a pathetic total, is perhaps indicative of this part of the country, but included Microlejeunea ulicina and Neckera pumila.

Thursday 19 August

The Irish contingent departed, one group to Killarney, another back to Dublin, leaving Roy and Phil to wind up the meeting on their own, two days before planned.

After the very interesting and successful first week, it was a pity that more could not have been made of the second. Much of it consisted of ‘square-bashing’, a frequently unrewarding recreation, and on this occasion resulting in poor lists in bryologically-depleted terrain and lots of wasted petrol. Many new vice-county records were missed in the second week, because no-one had brought with them a Census Catalogue or a ‘wants-list’, so relatively common species, such as Saccogyna viticulosa, Sphagnum fimbriatum, Syntrichia ruralis and Weissia brachycarpa var. obliqua, though recorded by us in VC H12, were not collected. It is to be hoped that the excellent records made in Waterford will encourage more bryologists to visit this part of Ireland.


We would like to thank Monsieur and Madame Serge Boissevain for kindly giving the BBS permission to study Glendine woods, Peter Foss of the Irish Peatland Conservation Council for providing a base map for our visit to Fenor Bog, and Jim Hurley, South Wexford Coast Promotions, for mentioning the British Bryological Society visit in the local newspaper, the Wexford Echo. We are grateful to Daniel Kelly, Neil Lockhart and Donal Synnott for help with choosing sites for our itinerary, and special thanks are due to Grace O’Donovan for taking on the difficult task of organising the meeting. The guest accommodation was most satisfactory in Dungarvan and New Ross, and we thank all our hosts for catering so effectively for the unusual requirements of bryological tourists.


Synnott D. 1967. The summer meeting 1966. Transactions of the British Bryological Society 5: 428-431.

Synnott D. 1976. The summer meeting 1975. Bulletin of the British Bryological Society 27: 5-9.

Howard Fox, Tom Blockeel & Roy Perry



Waterford and Wexford