Monday, 3 June 2019

Killodiernan Churchyard - 23rd May

Here are some photos of Killodiernan Churchyard taken toward the end of May, with a few old friends and some new.

Killodiernan Church nestles in its churchyard, with the flowering meadow edged by a tightly mown border separating it from the gravel path.

A Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) rests on a flower of Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata). 

Its food plant, Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus pedunculatus), grows nearby.

Early Purple Orchids (Orchis mascula) continue to flower - they have chosen a spot close to the gravel path, so the mower has to take special care to allow them to flower and seed.

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca) joins Bugle (Ajuga reptans) in a shady spot, promising a delicious treat in a few weeks.

Germander Speedwell (Veronica chamaedrys) has put in an appearance.

Dozens of Twayblade orchids (Neottia ovata) have begun to show their green spikes, with individual flowers looking like tiny green men.

Common Milkwort (Polygala vulgaris) starting to show.

A late Primrose (Primula vulgaris) still hanging on.

Lady's Smock or Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis) in a damper spot, among leaves of Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) which likes the same conditions

To my delight flowering stems of Common Quaking Grass (Briza media) were just beginning to appear, but unfortunately my photos were out of focus - we'll see more during June!

Friday, 3 May 2019

Killodiernan churchyard - 3rd May 2019

Some of the last unimproved grasslands in North Tipperary are in churchyards. Killodiernan Church of Ireland churchyard, Puckane, is a beautiful example of unimproved, species-rich meadow on glacial till over limestone. The church wardens tend it lovingly, mowing edges but making sure the rest is left to flower, displaying native wild flowers through the seasons, until a final mowing late in the year. I plan to document it month by month during 2019

Here are some photos taken on 3rd May 2019:

Early Purple orchid (Orchis mascula)

Cowslips (Primula veris) and its hybrid with Primrose (Primula x polyantha) top left

Bugle (Ajuga reptans - growing in a short sward 
and more lushly in a damper spot), 

Pignut (Conopodium majus)

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) 
- though possibly there are some Spanish genes in them, as some are pink

Fairy Foxglove (Erinus alpinus) growing on a lime-mortar wall with Bugle.

Carney Commons - 1st May

On May Day, I visited Carney Commons, North Tipperary to look for signs of orchids. It's an interesting site, a calcareous fen that floods in winter, where I regularly find Fly orchid, several dactylorhizos, Marsh Helleborine, Fragrant orchid - no sign of any so far. I shall try to document it regularly through the seasons this year.

However, at one end of the site is a small area of limestone pavement overlaid with limestone rocks (probably cleared from nearby fields and dumped) raised a few feet above the winter flood level. There I found numerous Early Purple orchids (Orchis mascula), including a pure white form.

Also pictured, an anthill - much favoured by Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum) and thyme (Thymus serpyllum). I'm fascinated by how different the flora of an anthill is from its surroundings.

Measuring sinfulness

The editorial in the May 2019 issue of Newslink, the diocesan magazine for Limerick and Killaloe.
Greta Thunberg at the European Parliament

Is it possible to measure sins on an ascending scale of sinfulness? Roman Catholics distinguish between mortal sins – causing a complete separation from God, and resulting in eternal damnation if unrepented - and venial sins – less grave offences that injure relationship with God, but do not break it, peccadilloes we should try our best to avoid.

We have seen heinous acts of evil in recent days. The New IRA and Saoradh instigated riots in Derry, culminating in reckless shots which killed the young journalist Lyra McKee. On Easter Sunday, suicide bombers claiming allegiance to Islamic State attacked churches and tourist hotels across Sri Lanka, leaving at least 359 dead and more than 500 injured. These were grave sins, but can we - should we – rate one of them as worse than the other?

If sins can be rated, then surely our communal failure to respond as we ought to climate change must be a greater sin than these. We now know that greedy human abuse of the earth’s resources is destroying God’s good creation. Scientists have been telling us for years what to expect, and we now see it with our own eyes: more frequent storms, floods and droughts; rising sea levels; collapse of wild life populations and species extinction. While individuals can take small steps, we need global action by governments to save our planet from catastrophe.

16-year-old Greta Thunberg has inspired the global ‘Climate Strike’ movement by school students -including many in Limerick City – calling for urgent action on behalf of future generations. The ‘Extinction Rebellion’ movement has brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets in acts of non-violent civil disobedience, calling for the emergency action required to protect our planet. They are asking the rest of us to stand up and demand action from governments. We owe them all a debt of gratitude for alerting us to our complicity in the sin of damaging God’s good creation.

I have my doubts about the reality of a hierarchy of sin. But it is surely true that the graver the sin the harder it is for the sinner to repent – that is, to make the fundamental change in thinking and behaviour which is a prerequisite for God’s forgiveness. Let us pray for the strength we need.

God bless,
Joc Sanders, Editor

Celebrating St Thomas on Low Sunday - doubting or believing?

St Thomas is one of my heroes.