Standing at the Gate

Janus, that ancient Roman god, was two-faced! He was a god of beginnings and endings, of looking to the future and to the past, a god of gates and doorways, of passage and transition and he gave his name to this month, January.

Perhaps, to call Janus two-faced (insincere and deceitful) is not being fair to him for we generally regard these as undesirable traits – though essential, even laudable, it would seem, in politicians and diplomats. Janus might better be described as indecisive, not quite sure whether it is better to look backwards or forwards, not quite sure if it is time to leave something behind or to continue with it, not sure if it is time to make changes in life or to simply plod along. Of course, one cannot undo the past, cannot go back in time, so one has no choice but to go forward but this is in itself, if not indecisive, at least a non-decision. There is no choice, there is no decision, simply a forward-moving indecision.

I am a January person, a devout follower of Janus, a man of great indecision – or, at least,  with a penchant for the postponement of decisions to the very brink of necessity. There have not been and will not be any New Year’s resolutions by me; they would simply be too much of an effort and too much of a bother. Of course, there are several vague hopes and intentions hovering about somewhere in my mind but, certainly, nothing so concrete nor decided that I might actually put them into words or, horror of horrors, actually commit myself to doing anything about them.

Nonetheless, I do look forward with a certain hope, even prospect, of happiness to events in the year ahead. There will be the normal family events – grandchildren events among them – which will be enjoyable and memorable. We will have our holidays – we have already made arrangements for a few days walking on The Burren – and we will continue our gardening and our regular walking. There has been mention of, perhaps, joining in some organised walking activities but, to be honest, we neither are enthusiastic joiners of groups, preferring our own company by and large. We were both enthusiastic swimmers but have left that activity slip in latter years and a return to swimming would be something we would both enjoy – this is almost approaching a resolution!

One activity which has given me great happiness over the last few years has been outings looking for and looking at our native wild orchids. These treasure have enthralled my heart, almost a childish enjoyment in something of simple beauty and intriguing design, and I am already looking forward to the company of the few people with whom I share this pleasure.

Here are a few shots, looking back, of some of the treasures enjoyed last year and I imagine you will understand why seeing them again is something to look forward to – Janus and I are certainly looking forward on this one!


Ballyteige views (2)
Ballygteige Burrows, Co. Wexford – the location of some wonderful days with friends and plants. 
Ballyteige views (4)
Ballyteige Burrows again with Jackie heading off in a determined manner. 
Views (5)
The Burren
Castle in ruins
In Co. Tipperary.
Mama Road View Bohadoon (1)
The Mama Road in the Comeragh Mountains with Mary doing what she usually does – she just keeps walking while I stop to take photographs and then have to sprint to catch up with her again. She comes just for the walking. 
Mama Road View Bohadoon (2)
The Mama Road in the Comeragh Mountains, Co. Waterford.
John's Hill View (5)
St. John’s Hill, outside Bunclody, Co. Wexford with Mark coming up the hill. We found the spot but not the orchid we were told was there … another day!

ORCHIDS: In no particular order, just a selection from looking back over photographs of last year’s outings:

Orchis mascula Early Purple Orchid (15)
Early Purple Orchid, Orchis mascula, in Co. Tipperary
Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid (4)
The Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Platanthera bifolia, on The Burren.
Ophrys insectifera Fly Orchid (4)
Ophrys insectifera, Fly Orchid, on The Burren.
Ophrys apifera var trollii (3)
Ophrys apifera var trollii, The Wasp Orchid –  a very special find from 2017, not seen in 2018, but Vera searched and searched for it last year and found it again – six of them! 
Gymnadenia densiflora (3)
Gymnadenia densiflora, the Dense-flowered Fragrant Orchid – on the most fabulous organic beef farm in Co. Tipperary. The farm itself, and the farmers, are treasures and the wildflowers which exist because of their farming methods are simply extraordinary. By the way, the fragrance of the Fragrant Orchid is of cloves. 
Gymnadenia conopsea Common Fragrant Orchid (1)
Gymnadenia conopsea, Common Fragrant Orchid, on that same farm in Co. Tipperary
Epipactis palustris Marsh Helleborine (6)
Epipactis palustris,  Marsh Helleborine – in my mind, the most beautiful of our native orchids. Photographed in Co. Tipperary.
Epipactis atrorubens Dark-red Helleborine (6)
Epipactis atrorubens, Dark-red Helleborine, photographed near Eagle’s Rock, on The Burren. 
Ophrys apifera var flavescens, a variant of the Bee Orchid, a beauty seen in good numbers on a railway siding last summer. 
Ophrys apifera var chlorantha, a variant of the Bee Orchid, in Co. Tipperary
Ophrys apifera Bee orchid (14)
Ophrys apifera, The Bee Orchid, with its normal coloration for comparison with the variations above.
Dactylorhiza viridis Frog Orchid
Dactylorhiza viridis, Frog Orchid, though it is hard to see the similarity to the frog – from that organic beef farm in Co. Tipperary
Dactylorhiza traunsteineri Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid (5)
Dactylorhiza traunsteineri, Narrow-leaved Marsh Orchid, one of our uncommon marsh orchids. Photographed in Co. Kildare.
Dactylorhiza fuchsii var okellyi O'Kelly's spotted-orchid (1)
Dactylorhiza fuchsii var okellyi, O’Kelly’s spotted-orchid, one of the specialties of The Burren.


Mark Roper with Orobanche hederae Ivy Broomrape (2)
Mark, deep in concentration.
John Fogarty Platanthera bifolia Lesser Butterfly Orchid (2)
John with a Lesser Butterfly Orchid in his sights. 
Jackie O'Connell 111
Jackie setting up a shot!
Anne Lloyd
Anne getting in close to her subject
Vera Roche Murphy, Mark Roper, Jackie O'Connell
Vera, Mark and Jackie savouring the moment – this was when we went to see the Wasp Orchid which Vera has searched out and found. 
Paddy (1)
And Jackie caught me lining up an orchid for a shot. 




One thought on “Standing at the Gate

  1. I admire your dedication to finding and photographing the wild Orchids. I also have an enthusiasm for the Burren but don’t have your perseverence in seeking out these treasures! Like Mary, for me its all about the walking – particularly over the pavements of the Burren.


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