Clonaslee Eskers

Close to the town of Clonaslee lie a number of morainic hills and esker ridges. An iconic reminder of the end of the last Ice Age, the area is protected as a Special Area of Conservation. The main esker hill supports a population of the rare snail Vertigo geyeri, a ‘glacial relic’. This species is listed under in the EU Habitats Directive.

An unusual array of plants is also found along the main esker hill and the nearby Derry Hills, a bogland area. Autumn gentian, Yellow-wort and Mountain Everlasting are examples of calcicole vegetation. At this site, these plants are found growing alongside plants that would normally be associated with acid heaths, such as Fragrant Orchid, Ling Heather and Tormetil. Another noteworthy occurrence is Blue Moor-grass, which is usually restricted to the west of the River Shannon.

Streams that run over the moraines and esker ridges form a number of small, calcium-rich springs that occur in the Derry Hills bog. These springs allow an alkaline fen to flourish, supporting Bog-rush, Butterwort, Sundew and Fly Orchid. It is unusual to find the Fly Orchid in the east of Ireland, and is more common to the west and midlands.

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