County Mayo – The Heather County

Another Name for County Mayo

County Mayo is often called the Heather County. Ling heather can be found in abundance throughout Mayo's bogs especially in the bog of Céide Fields and in the Ballycroy National Park at the foot of the Nephin Mountain.

Pamela Norrington / Summit of Nephin https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

Did you know that heather comes in colors other than purple?

In addition to purple, heather may be found in white and pink. My favorite is the purple heather that I see whenever I ride along the narrow, regional road 310 from Castlebar towards Pontoon Bridge. As you draw near to Pontoon, there is a turnoff to the right which will take you through Parke and then to Turlough. My maternal grandmother, Maria Nolan Hughes, was born in Turlough. And, according my mom, Maria loved the heather which grows wild across the stone and rocky, boggy ground in that area.

Courage, strength, and heather

The purple ling heather is thought to represent beauty and strength. Strength means so much to me in the last few years. Not physical strength but the spiritual and moral strength to care for those in my family who needs caring.

Two years ago, my mother took the Claddagh ring from her finger that her mother had given to her when my mom left County Mayo at the age of 17 and presented the ring to me. My mom said “when I left Ireland my mother told me to have courage and strength. And now I am giving this to you and always remember courage and strength.” That ring had been my grandmother's wedding ring (made one of her brothers).

I have always loved heather and purple. Funny, I loved that color and plant long before I knew it was a favorite of my grandmother's (whom I never met). I love the color but I also love heather's strength: its ability to survive in the wild surrounded by craggy rocks and boggy desolation. So, I take my grandmother's and mother's words to heart and try to remember each day, during the caring, that courage and strength is my legacy.

Photo by Martha Geaney – Bit of heather on the road between Parke and Turlough, County Mayo

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Thank you so much for reading my blog post today. Please use the buttons below to share with your friends. If you haven't already, sign up for my newsletter with stories and updates about the Star O'Brien County Mayo mysteries. Here's the link: https://www.subscribepage.com/marthageaney

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