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Deora Dé or Fuschia in everyday parlance


When I was buying my summer bedding plants this year I saw some lovely potted fuchsia plants which I admired and bought. The shop assistant said I should be familiar with them because they were native to Kerry.

On my way home I remembered my grandmother had a great ditch of fuchsia and we were never allowed to pull the lovely red belled flowers because they represented Christ’s tear drops on the cross. Deora De as she respectfully called them.

In our teen years years we cycled from Blennerville around Slea Head and I fondly remember all those lovely fuschia bushes on the road back by Derrymore and then again west of Dingle as we headed to Ceann Sleibhe with a stop off in Kilmalkedar to follow the path of the 636 AD Saint Maolcethair and down into that seaside marsh of Muirioch where I spent my Gaeltacht days.

After my visit to the garden centre and my youthful reminiscences I came home and opened up my gardening encyclopaedia to check out our native fuchsia. Sadly we couldn’t lay claim to it as it was native to Haiti and first found there in 1696 and named after a German Botanist named Leonhart Fuchs . He was famous for writing and illustrating the first herbal book which he wrote in Latin.

When I look out at the garden today I see our many hydrangeas losing colour and shape and when I check I see that they are native to Korea, China, Japan and the name comes from a Greek word meaning watershed.

Our back Garden is adorned with eight lovely clusters of agapanthus which burst into flower mid July every year and yes you guessed it. The name is not of Irish origin. The flower name comes from two Greek words agape meaning love and anthos meaning flower and are originally native to South Africa. The study of plant names is fascinating.

I quit and admire our native shamrock in the lawn which comes from the Irish seamair óg or young clover.

If you want to pass away an hour on some wet and dreary winter day look up the word Shamrock or any other flower,shub or tree name. You will be hooked ,I guarantee you.

As the song “The Dear little Shamrock “goes ‘Sure Twas St Patrick himself sure that set it’. It’s probably as Irish as you get.

Mick O Callaghan

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