I am really lucky to live in a truly beautiful county. It is pretty untouched by high production farming, drainage and hedgerow destruction (although it does happen). We have a limestone landscape, blanket bog, mountains, a UNESCO heritage show cave – Marble Arch Caves Geopark We also have three National Trust Properties and are surrounded by the Erne River System. We are so amazingly fortunate and safe to say, I won’t run out of subject matter! I could talk about Fermanagh all day, its beauty and stunning landscape; everywhere, there is something interesting to explore.
Today, we went to Castle Coole to hunt for insects for the last day of National Insect Week . Castle Coole is an 18th Century neo-classical mansion built by the first Earl of Belmore between 1789-97. Its grandeur and splendour places it as one of the most beautiful houses in Ireland, not to mention the incredible gardens, woodland and conservation areas. The whole meadow was covered in orchids and wildflowers, you could hear the resounding hum of bees in the air. The colours were rich and vibrant and was enough to lift our spirts, which have been dampened by the uncertainty of the EU referendum vote. The blackbird was sweetly singing and we could hear skylark and stonechat nearby. A little robin fledgling was hopping around in the wild shrubs and the whole air spoke of summer.
It is an Area of Special Scientific Interest and is rich in habitat and species. We love going here to explore and spend time together as a family, it is stunning place with a beautiful Lough, housing lots of waders, ducks and geese.
It has many native trees including oak, beech, horse-chestnut and hawthorn. The beech wood is really special and we especially love climbing the big sycamore tree! I think kids aren’t given enough opportunity to climb tress and safety aside, should be encouraged and nurtured. It gives us a special connection to our natural world.
We found some cool snipe flies, moths, beetles and hoverfllies (which I couldn’t capture beacuse they were so fast)! We love hoverflies and have a special story conected to them, but I’ll write another blog on them when I get some decent photos to share.
We also spotted some Deadly Nightshade (Atrpoa belladonna), this herbaceous plant has an interesting history and was used for medicine, cosmetics and poison. The berries and leaves are extremely toxic containing atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine. These cause deirium and hallucinations; consumption is usually fatal!! It was a favourite murder method among the ancient Romans, nice!! There is an antidote these days, if you are unlucky enough to confuse them with blueberries, phew!
It was a really beautiful walk and I really hope that areas such as Castle Coole will continue to be protected and cherished for future generations.