A BRIEF HISTORY OF WATERFORD BOTANISTS AND VISITING BOTANISTS
Listed below are all botanists I have been able to trace who were born in the county or who resided in the county for a while, and some of the visiting botanists who have made important contributions to recording the flora of the county since 1746.
Thomas Allin – born at Midleton, Co. Cork. He took the B.D. degree at Dublin University in 1859, and, entering the church, held curacies in turn in Cos Galway, Carlow and Cork between 1864 and 1877. He subsequently lived at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK. In 1883 he issued a little book The Flowering Plants and Ferns of County Cork, published at Weston-super-Mare. Allin made a number of records for Co. Waterford in or before 1872, four of these being the first county records: Autumn Lady’s-tresses, Broad-fruited Cornsalad (the only county record), Marsh Hawk’s-beard and Round-leaved Mint.
Richard M. Barrington (1849-1915) – born at the family residence of Fassaroe, Co. Wicklow. He took degrees – M.A., LL.B. – at Dublin University, and was called to the Bar, but preferred the open-air life that he got as a land valuer and farmer. While still an undergraduate he came under the influence of A.G. More, which led to his reports on the flora of Lough Ree, Lough Erne, Ben Bulben, Tory Island and the Blaskets (all published by the Royal Irish Academy). All but one record used for this flora are from herbarium specimens and all but five of the specimens were collected from the eastern end of the county during 1870 and 1871. He is the only botanist to have recorded Scutellaria x hybrida in the county.
Isaac Carroll (1828-1880) – born at Aghaha, Co. Cork. He became a very good all-round botanist, studying and collecting flowering plants, mosses, lichens and algae. At the time of his death he was collaborating with Rev. T. Allin in the production of a general Flora of County Cork. Carroll made a number of good discoveries in Co. Waterford, Black Horehound and Mountain Everlasting being only reported by him.
Frances ‘Fanny’ W. Currey (1848-1917) – born at Lismore. A woman of many accomplishments, proficient in riding, shooting and fishing, a watercolourist, besides being clever with her pencil. A keen gardener, she grew plants at the Warren Gardens, Lismore, raising a number of daffodil cultivars (she ran a bulb growing business). From the glens north of Lismore in c. 1900 she collected two colour forms of Wood Anemone, ‘Lismore Blue’ and ‘Lismore Pink’, which are still in cultivation today. She noticed that the blue forms of the Wood Anemone always grew in the immediate neighbourhood of water, within about twenty yards.The only record for Yellow Bartsia in the county was seen by Currey. She is buried in the graveyard of Lismore Cathedral.
Keith Ferguson – of Tramore, Waterford left the county in 1955 to attend Albert College, Glasnevin on a scholarship as a Horticultural Student. From there he went to work at Kew. Keith was BSBI vice-county recorder for the county from 1962 until he handed it over to me in 2001. He kept a card index for the county. Keith made the first county records for: Medium-flowered Winter-cress, Flax, Field Maple, Blunt-leaved Pondweed, Butterfly-bush, Irish Whitebeam, etc.
William W. Flemyng (1850-1921) – of Coolfinn, Co. Waterford. The majority of his records were made from around the Portlaw area. He found the only county site for Narrow-leaved Helleborine and Greater Butterfly-orchid at Curraghmore, both long since extinct. The first county records for Green-winged Orchid and Marsh Helleborine were made by Flemyng.
Ian P. Green – my twin brother! Co-author of The Atlas Flora of Somerset. Ian first visited the county in 1988 to help with recording for the BSBI Monitoring Scheme. He spent a week in September that year, not returning until April 1997 with me his twin brother to record for the New Atlas. He visited again in 2000, 2001 and 2002 to help with recording for this flora. We would often park on the edge of a tetrad and do one each, arranging a time to meet up again. Ian always covered a tetrad well and very little work would need doing again in that square. Ian has contributed 6371 sole records, 24,464 made with myself and a further 878 records with myself and other botanists. Ian has found many new species to the county including: Rough Horsetail, Smooth Brome and Small Water-pepper.
A.M. Greenwood – from Waterford City. Published a list of plants seen flowering between 22nd October and 22nd November 1898 within a few miles of the city. There are 69 species on this list of which 11 are the earliest records for the county. Among these are Sharp-leaved Fluellen and Dwarf Spurge, the latter is only one of two records known from the county.
Susanna Grubb – of Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Grubb added many important records to the county between 1850 and 1900. She found Compact Brome at Carrick-on-Suir on the old castle in c. 1854 and also on the Waterford side of the River Suir in 1864 where it is still found today. The only record for Northern Bedstraw was made by her in 1859 from Croan Marsh.
Henry C. Hart (1847-1908) – born in Dublin of a Donegal family, his father being Sir Andrew S. Hart, Vice-Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. He took his degree (B.A.) at Dublin University in experimental and natural science. Hart was the author of the Flora of the County Donegal and The flora of Howth. He was a man of magnificent physique, a daring climber and a tireless walker, and though his pace was usually too fast for exhaustive work, he missed little, and penetrated to places where very few have followed him. He walked the length of the Co. Waterford coast from 1st-5th August 1882. His report of this walk gives many first records for the county. Wood Vetch is described as growing abundantly on the east side of Ballyvoyle Head, where it still grows today. Species seen along the coastal areas but not seen in the county since are: Common Cudweed, Field Gentian, Slender Tufted-sedge, Stinking Chamomile and Tufted-sedge. He explored the Comeragh Mountains in 1882, many of the species said to be common by Hart are now quite rare on this mountain range. He walked parts of the River Blackwater in 1885, Field Gromwell being seen then, the only record for the county.
John R. Kinahan (1828-1863) – born in Dublin. He obtained the M.D. degree at Dublin University, lectured under the Science and Art Department on botany and zoology and was Secretary of the Natural History Society of Dublin. Kinahan was very keen on ferns, 14 species being the first record I have traced for the county. These include: Hart’s-tongue, Sea Spleenwort, Southern Polypody and Tunbridge Filmy-fern.
Alan C. Leslie – originally from Guildford, Surrey, UK, moved to Cambridge in 2005 where he is now one of the BSBI vice-county recorders. Alan is a botanist working for the Royal Horticultural Society. He visited the county with me in 2004, 2005 and 2006. We collected a few bramble specimens in 2004 and since I have been hooked on them. Seven of the brambles we collected were first county records. We added 4924 records to the database. Alan added six new species to the county: Calystegia silvatica subspecies silvatica, Canterbury-bells, Chinese Hollygrape, Italian Alder, Long-leaved Lacebark and Peach-leaved Bellflower.
Cynthia Longfield (1896-1991) – was a member of the Anglo-Irish Longfield family of Castle Mary, Cloyne, Co. Cork. She worked from 1928 to 1956 at the Natural History Museum, London. Cynthia recorded in the Lismore area in the 1950s for the 1962 Atlas. She contributed 255 records for that atlas for Co. Waterford. Thirty of these were new county records, including: Hybrid Woundwort, Indian Balsam, Italian Rye-grass and Russian Comfrey.
Úna McDermott – born in Dublin, moved to Co. Waterford in 2001. Una joined the BSBI in 2006 and offered to help record for this flora, doing her home tetrad where she added many good and interesting species. Adder’s-tongue grows in her garden and Rubus dentatifolius in the hedge around it. Úna found Black Nightshade on the roadside near her cottage, a rare plant in that part of the county. She also found Fragrant Agrimony growing on the roadside in the tetrad and an unusual find was a very fine form (variety babartii) of Common Figwort which has yellow flowers instead of the normal reddish/brown.
Declan McGrath – born in Waterford, mainly a bird watcher. Declan has produced three excellent books; A guide to the Comeragh Mountains, A guide to Tramore Bay, Dunes and Backstrand and A Guide to Wildlife in Waterford City. They have a large section on the flora with first-rate pictures of plants. Declan has contributed 937 sole records for this flora and 1345 with myself and other botanists. He has added five species to the county: Mimulus x hybridus, Oregon-grape, Phacelia, Rock Crane’s-bill and Rosemary.
Tony O’Mahony – BSBI vice-county recorder for the three Cork vice-counties has provided records made in Co. Waterford since 1967, mainly in the Dungarvan area and along the River Bride. He made the only record for Carex x emmae in the county. Tony was the first to record a number of species in the county including: Bushy Mint, Des Etangs’ St John’s-wort, Fairy Foxglove and Small-leaved Sweet-briar.
Joseph Neale – of Waterford. Neale collected specimens of plants found flowering in the county in the spring of the years between 1877 and 1885 and sent his box of specimens to the editor of The Natural History Journal. The details were published and give the first records for 34 of the generally commoner species of the county. It is not clear in the publications where all were found, but it seems likely that they were collected from around Waterford City. He did also visit the Comeragh Mountains, where he found Water Avens flowering in May 1878. He also collected a few specimens with H.R. Clark.
Robert A. Phillips (1866-1945) – from Cork. Phillips had eight first records for the county. His Heath False-brome from Tramore Burrow was the first confirmed record from Ireland. The only county records for Meadow Brome and Fragrant Orchid were made by him. Wall Lettuce, which he found at Lismore in 1933, is still abundant about the town. After road improvements of the N25 by Youghal Bridge during 2004, Round-leaved Crane’s-bill turned out to be frequent along the roadsides where he found it in 1900.
Robert L. Praeger (1865-1953) – born at Holywood near Belfast, the son of W.E. Praeger. He took his degree in engineering in the Royal University. Ireland’s most famous botanist! He visited the county a number of times. During 1897 and 1899 he made lists of species seen, marking the routes taken on a map of the county. This map is the base I used to work out where he saw many of the plants. Praeger is credited for many of the first records, especially the common species. He was the first botanist to make a comprehensive list of plants seen in the county. There are 1099 records by Praeger in my database.
Charles Smith – carried out a general survey of Co. Waterford in 1746. His publication has the first references to any plants I have been able to trace for the county. Some of these are the only county records: Caraway, Chamomile, Dittander, Green Hellebore, Jacob’s-ladder and Masterwort.
Mike L. Stephens – a native of Cornwall. First came over to the county with me to help record for the New Atlas in 1999 when we spent one day in Co. Waterford before recording in Co. Cork for three weeks. Mike has helped me with recording also in 2000, 2001, 2004, 2005 and 2006. We produced 11,402 records. He added Summer Jasmine to the county. Mike being an avid gardener has helped with naming many of the garden escapes.
Matt J. Stribley – a native of Truro, Cornwall, UK. Helped with recording in 2005 and 2006. On his two visits we added 1265 records to the database. Being very keen on ferns, Matt came to look for hybrid Polypody. This proved much harder than had been expected and we found only five sites. Even though we often found two or all three species growing together hybrids were just not there. This was a surprise to Matt as Polypodium x mantoniae seems a reasonably easy hybrid to find in Cornwall. We found Musk new to the county.
Richard P. Vowell (d. 1911) – visited the county several times during the 1880s. The majority of his records are drawn from herbarium specimens and collected in the west of the county. Seventeen of these records are first county records. They include: Black-bindweed, Hybrid Yellow-cress, Lesser Stitchwort and Winter-cress.
John C. Wallace – born in Waterford. Joined the BSBI in 2003 and since has been coming out in the field with me. John has added 1043 sole records to the flora and a further 5182 made with me. John added Spergula arvensis variety arvensis and Wild Leek to the county.
David A. Webb (1912-1994) – born in Dublin. He went on to Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey, where he became a foundation and Senior Scholar. He graduated in Natural Sciences at Trinity College, Dublin in 1935. In 1937 he obtained a PhD from Trinity and in 1939 a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He joined Trinity as a full-time Assistant Lecturer in Botany. By 1943 Webb had put together a first edition of his handbook on Irish plants, An Irish Flora. In 1950 he was appointed Professor of Plant Biology and, four years later, University Professor of Botany. For two generations he was not only the leading taxonomic botanist in Ireland but the best known and respected Irish botanist in international circles, with his major contributions to Flora Europaea and the genus Saxifraga. Webb added a number of new species to the county including: Himalayan Cotoneaster, American Willowherb, Garden Yellow Archangel, etc. He is the only person to have recorded Druce’s Dandelion, Lavender-cotton, Large-flowered Pink-sorrel and Wetland Dandelion in the county.