Nature Notebook 2 February, 2016

“We had over 24 inches of rain in December compared to the previous record of 18 inches in 1948”, Gerry Murphy, the head gardener in Muckross, told me on Sunday. “In January we had over 15 inches compared to a January average of eight to ten inches.”  The average annual rainfall at Muckross is 70 inches.

over lake with mts P1010338


I had walked from the jaunting car entrance to the National Park. How many visitors have been drawn at this point by the panorama of Lough Leane with its high mountain backdrop of Tomies, Purple and Glena mountains.

Along the lake shore the high water levels and the banks of nature debris added to the wildness of the scene – though this was somewhat taken from by the amount of plastic.

Through the heavily vegetated Monks’ Wood, one of the many unexplored special places in Killarney. I hope to record a walk through here for radio later in the month.* The lowerbranches of a Scots Pine were at or below water level. 

Sunday looked ideal to walk Muckross and Dinis again. But when I rounded the corner beyond the Vincent Hostel the road was flooded. The water level was as high as it had been from early December up to the week when I walked here a fortnight earlier.

Instead by the grove of oaks planted by Queen Victoria in 1861 and our finest Cedar of Lebanon whose wood was used to build the great palaces and temples, skirting Muckross House and along the lake shore by swamp woodland to Torc where, as always, the carpark was overflowing and a constant stream of people visited the waterfall which is always worth seeing at this time of the year.

swamp P1010368

Now along the jaunting car road to a welcome refreshment at Muckross.

Wandering through the gardens the occasional clump of miniature daffodils and the promise of many more blooms in the weeks and months ahead, with the weather dictating when. Maybe St Brigid’s Feast Day (February 1) marking the beginning of the Celtic Spring has it right.

daffodils P1010346

In the covered garden the first wax-like perfect pink and while camellia blossoms. In a few weeks this will be a very special place to visit. 

flower s P1010377

flower P1010349


Water level at the wet boathouse has risen. At the Dundag headland I had to hold on to my hat in the stiff breeze. Here there is an unparalleled view of the entire Middle Lake with Devil’s Island recalling the great legendary battle between the Devil (on top of Mangerton) and the Chieftain O’Donoghue at Ross.

The waves hitting the Dundag beach showed the strength of the wind.

Once again through the gardens. At Muckross Abbey the funeral road was still impassible. Along the shore of Lough Leane to the car.

That 4.5 hours was the perfect start to another week.

– Frank Lewis

* The Saturday Supplement on Radio Kerry (96-97FM), every Saturday morning  9-11am

Note: This is one of the many walks within easy reach of our self-catering holiday home … see web site

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