Clifden Nature Studies

Cover image Wildflowers by Caroline Conneely 

( Caroline is a first year student in Clifden Community School and she was presented with a prize for this photograph by Clifden Library this September )


I recently attended a meeting in Clifden Library about ‘Biodiversity’ in our town which was co-ordinated by Clifden Tidy Towns and local environmentalist Marie Louise Heffernan. Marie Louise and I have been friends for many years so I wanted to offer my support and learn a little more about this thing called Biodiversity. So what is it you may well ask? As it turns out, it is a topic that is more than a little close to my heart because in the simplest of terms Biodiversity means our natural world and how we fit into it. I would have known it as ‘Nature Studies’ when I was in school and I remember it as a subject that was given a lot of importance.


Photo 2 of Bog Cotton

Bog Cotton by Deborah Watkins




Sandra Shattock from the Tidy Towns began the meeting by introducing Brendan O’Malley who spoke about Biodiversity from his point of view, as a farmer working in the area. Brendan talked about recognising the importance of the natural world around us, whether it is a field or a seashore or a roadside. He spoke about the variety of wild plants and grasses on our doorstep that might be overlooked as weeds but which thrive when allowed to do so, without human interference. He also spoke about finding a balance between making a living from the land and respecting it, perhaps returning to an older kind of husbandry which is kinder to nature.


purple 1

Gowlaun Lake, Clifden by Deborah Watkins




Marie Louise followed with an outline of a proposed schedule of events which will contribute to the production of a Biodiversity Plan for Clifden. The idea is that people will start to engage each other on the subject and question what can be done in our town to best preserve and maintain the natural world. In this way, the process will become an interactive one where all ideas are welcomed and considered. You can get involved by joining some of the many activities over the next few weeks. There’s something for everyone and the events are spread over mornings and evenings with talks on garden bird identification, mammal tracking and even a bat walk! You can find out more information on Marie Louise’s website at


Summer’s here!

We have been enjoying some exceptionally fine weather here in Connemara. Temperatures reached the mid 20’s and higher last week which is rare for this (or any?) time of year here.

One sign of Summer’s arrival is the appearance of the Summer wild flowers and they seem (to me) to have sprung over night – clover, buttercups, pink grass heads and marguerites, my favourite of all.
Here’s a photo of a clover head, such a lovely colour – somewhere between crimson, pink and purple.


Photo of a Clover



I love the feathery summer grasses, the smell of them, the rustling sound of them and when you look closely, their delicate colours. Here’s an example and below that a couple of seed heads.


Photo of pink seeding grass



Photo of a seed head



Photo 2 of a seed head



Finally, I’ve included some pictures of the Marguerite, one of my all time favourite wild flowers. Their name makes them human – my daughters affectionately call them ‘Big Daisies’. There is a lovely field of these flowers beside the local National school but unfortunately for me, behind a high fence ( photo below taken through the fence ). I resisted an urge to climb in to the field, deciding not to risk injury to myself or my dignity and the possibility of creating a spectacle in view of my daughter’s teachers!


Photo of a field of flowers



These close ups (below) were taken a few metres away at the roadside which is dotted with these perfect flowers at the moment. Long live Summer!


Photo of Martguerites on the roadside



Photo of a Marguerite

Connemara Colour

I took some photographs on a recent walk along the ‘Bog Road’ between Clifden and Roundstone. This is a protected area so the landscape is preserved and the mountain, bog and lake views can be enjoyed unhindered by dwellings. Along the way I found some lovely old twisted Hawthorns and unexpectedly, a colourful grouping of Willow. Here’s a picture of the Hawthorn – I love the knarled branches and the way it has formed itself in the direction of the prevailing wind.


Photo of hawthorn tree



Here’s a close up of the leaves and twigs which have a lovely layer of lichen. This combination of green and grey seems like a perfect partnership in colour to me..


Photo of lichen on hawthorn tree
Here’s the Willow with its colourful and delicate Spring display of catkins (below).


Photo of a willow tree



The next couple of photos are close ups of these bright yellow downy flowers.


Photo 1 of Willow Catkins



Photo 2 of Willow Catkins


They almost have the appearance of tiny sea urchins in water as they move in the breeze.