It was getting late into the evening after the dinner when dad and I decided to head down to Dohyle Lough with its abandoned public swimming pool and boating canal. Once upon a time people used to come here for fishing but the place is long since abandoned. Many times I have passed the entrance wall with its locked gates but never made it around back to the lake.
I was to be shown two rare plants the Marsh helleborine Orchid (Epipactis palustris) and Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris). There really is no access so we crossed fields under electric fences until we came to the man made canal that links the old public pool and boat storage area to the lake. The ground is dryer here than the lake edge. Along this access way we saw Knapweed (Centaurea nigra) a secondary food plant for 18 species of butterfly including the migrant comma, Painted lady and Clouded Yellow butterfly . Also here we saw Square Stalked St John’s wort (Hypericum tetrapterum) among the meadow grasses. By the canal edge the tall March Figwort (Scropularia auriculata)was growing with its blunt toothed leaves and square winged stem. Other plants spotted along the canal were Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis), Devil’s Bit Scabious (Succisa pratensis) the primary food plant for the March Fritillary butterfly. Other plants on the canal edge include Wild carrot ( Daucus Carota ), Angelica (Angelica Sylvestris), yarrow ( Achillea millefolium), Agrimony Hemp (Eupatorium cannabinum) loved by butterflys, Oxe-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), Dock (Rumex obtusifolius), Stinging nettle ( Urtica dioica), Silverweed (Potentilla anserinea), Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare),Meadow Sweet ( Filipendula ulmaria), Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus- The inspiration for the invention of Velcro by the swiss inventor George de Mistral) .On the canal White Water Lily (Nymphaea alba). Trees included Sycamore, Willows, Ash, and Hawthorn
As we moved closer to the lake edge the ground became much softer and it was here that we saw Marsh Pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) which is edible, Yellow Rattle ( Rhinanthus minor). This plant is semi parasitic using root like organs called Haustoria to take water and minerals from neighbouring plants. It’s an excellent plant to grow if you are trying to establish a wildflower meadow as it suppresses grasses. We did eventually find Grass of Parnassus (Parnassia palustris) with a beautiful single white flower on its stem. We found it growing in large groups many are just about to flower.
The Marsh helleborine Orchid (Epipactis palustris ) was also eventually found but it’s flowering period is finishing. We heard the call of the Water Rail in the reeds and as night fell we listen for the call of barn owls in the paupers graveyard nearby. A fantastic evening was had.