by Kate Maguire , Rinaneel, Claremorris

A sojourn by Lough Carra is always rewarding: but for people interested in wild flowers early spring to late Autumn by the lake is especially enjoyable. There are even now (mid March!) a few very ‘micro’ areas of deciduous woodland near the lake. These are magic in the springtime when the ground, beneath the still leafless trees is carpeted with the bright stars of white Wood Anemone joined a little later by Golden Lesser Celendines, Pale Yellow Primroses, White/Green Wood Sorrel with Violets and White Wild Strawberry flowers on the margins. Later again come the Bluebells.
Meanwhile all around, the hedgerows glow white, as the Blackthorn blossoms and then, in even more exhuberance, comes the Whitethorn often intertwined with the Wild Roses and Honeysuckle.
Lough Carra’s shores blossom with a profusion of wild flowers. There are Ox-eyed Daisy, Cat’s Paw, many varieties of Worts, Scabious and Trefoils;Harebells, Tormentils, Meadow Sweet, Agrihemp, Loosestrife etc
More difficult to find are Bugle, Cowslip, Greater Butterwort, and the beautiful creamy Burnet Rose.
The lakeshore has many species of rare wild flowers, perhaps the loveliest of these is the vivid deep royal blue of the Spring Gentian; this is very scarce some years but can be a little more abundant in others.
Many wild orchids grow around Lough Carra; Early Purple Orchids, Many varieties of March Orchids, Pyramidal Orchids, Fragrant Orchids, Common Spotted Orchids, Helliborine, Twablade. The rare Fly Orchid, Bee Orchid and Butterfly orchid grow only in a few places. Their numbers fluctuate from year to year.
The importance of preserving these wondrous but sensitive and fragile areas around Lough Carra cannot be over-emphasised.
Cattle and wild flowers would seem to co-exist; but the presence of sheep may prove detrimental to the botanical environment.