This new book is special in many ways, not least that it weights almost one stone! Not bedtime reading but a very valuable volume which examines the plant life of Fermanagh and believe me it really is a scholarly tome which will be an essential not only for those who study these things but also to people who love this county where there is as much interest below the surface as above.
Fermanagh is a place of mystery, hopefully a joy to the many visitors likely to visit after the G8 bandwagon has moved on, people impressed with television pictures of the wonderful lakes, the islands, the towns and villages. I know the area well and it never fails to intrigue and this book answers a lot of my questions and helps identify the flowers that are so familiar and with water covering 30% of the total area of Co. Fermanagh, it’s no surprise that this book contains details of many aquatic and wetland plants, some of them now scarce elsewhere in UK and Ireland.
Those with a deep interest in the flora of this part of Ireland will enjoy the detailed information on the geology of the county, the soils and the climate plus superb pictures and maps pin-pointing where specific plants are to be found. I notice Lady’s-mantle is fairly common, Scarlet Pimpernel less common and the Common Cornsalad is almost impossible to find! Some people might be glad that the Shady Horsetail is very rare, I’m not one of them. I saw a great drift of these strangely prehistoric plants in a forest when the sun was low in the sky and its light shone through these mares tails as we knew them, little Christmas trees children call them, stubborn weeds gardeners curse them! For me they made a mystical picture.
It took Ralph and Robert over 30 years to produce The Flora of County Fermanagh such was their painstaking research, both in the field and at the drawing board. It was a family affair with both wives supporting their author husbands and many of the superb photographs were taken by Hannah Northridge.
A book of this size and boasting 864 pages could be cumbersome but the printers, Nicholson & Bass Ltd. have bound it in such a way that no matter what page you turn to the book lies flat before you. It’s a marvel for only £25.
Review by Anne Hailes