Irish Waxcaps

In the paper  “The Fungi of Irish Grasslands and their value for nature conservation” by Roland McHugh, David Mitchel, Mark Wright and Roy Anderson in Biology and Environment, Vol 101B, No.3, 225-242 (2001), the best sites known in Ireland at that time were listed and ranked. These webpages will offer the most up to date site rankings and species lists of Irish grassland fungi.

See the Atlas for more details on the distribution of these species in Northern Ireland or the Photo Gallery for images of these species.

This is the most up to date ranking of Irish sites and distribution in Ireland per 10km square (last updated 07/07/2022).

Site County No Waxcaps No Visits
The Curragh Kildare 36 28
Clare Island West Mayo 29 17
Slievenacloy ASSI Antrim 27 18
Killykeeghan and Crossmurrin NNR Fermanagh 24 9
Binevenagh NNR Londonderry 23 13
Ballyprior Commonage Laois 22 5
Galboly ASSI (Garron Point) Antrim 22 8
Rathlin Island: Kebble NNR Antrim 22 7
Achill Island: Keem Bay West Mayo 21 3
Fair Head and Murlough Bay ASSI Antrim 21 13
Knock Dhu and Sallagh Braes ASSI Antrim 21 8
Rathlin Island: Roonivoolin RSPB reserve Antrim 21 3
Dursey Island West Cork 20 4
Inishshark West Galway 20 1
Monawilkin ASSI Fermanagh 20 6
Murrevagh Maghera West Mayo 20 5
Aghadachor West Donegal 19 2
Arran More West Donegal 19 1
Barnett’s Park Antrim 19 32
Brookfield Td., SW of Tullyhona Fermanagh 19 2
Divis Mountain Antrim 19 6
Rathlin Island: Knockans RSPB Reserve Antrim 19 3
Ballycastle Coalfield ASSI Antrim 18 3
Hillsborough Parish Church Down 18 7
Inishbofin West Galway 18 1
Longmore Hill Antrim 18 1
Mount Stewart Estate Down 18 10
Rathlin Island: Craigmacagan RSPB
Antrim 18 1
Tramore Dunes / Marfagh Head West Donegal 18 2
Ballynacarriga West Cork 17 1
Bantry House West Cork 17 1
Cushleake Mountain Antrim 17 2
Gortnagory ASSI Antrim 17 3
Agnew’s Hill Antrim 16 3
Black Head (Burren) Clare 16 2
Clonmantagh Hill Kilkenny 16 3
Eyeries Coast West Cork 16 2
Inis Meáin Clare 16 1
John McSparran Memorial Hill Farm Antrim 16 4
Killary Harbour: Foher West Galway 16 1
Knockmore Hill Fermanagh 16 5
Murlough NNR Down 16 15
Silent Valley Down 16 7
Achill Island: Keel: St Finian’s Well West Mayo 15 2
Castle Archdale Country Park Fermanagh 15 6
Cummer West Galway 15 1
Drum Manor Forest Park Tyrone 15 7
East Torr Td, nr Torr Head Antrim 15 1
Glenbeg Lough West Cork 15 1
Glennahoo South Kerry 15 1
Great Heath of Maryborough Laois 15 2
Harphall Td, Carnlough Antrim 15 2
Inishturk West Mayo 15 1
Knockninny ASSI Fermanagh 15 3
Melmore Head West Donegal 15 1
Muckros Head West Donegal 15 2
Slemish Mountain Antrim 15 2
Stormont Estate Down 15 14
Teelin Point West Donegal 15 1
Tory Island West Donegal 15 2

Irish Waxcap Map (Number of Species)

Whilst a lot more data is needed before it can be said how many points would be required before a site is of national conservation importance in Irish terms, the top 7 sites on this list have 22 or more species of Hygrocybe. Boertmann suggests that any site with this number or more are internationally important. To get this data Environment & Heritage Service has let a contract to survey all of Northern Ireland’s 10km squares for grassland fungi. The contract was let in 2002 and ran for 3 years. 2002 was not a good year for waxcaps and the best site found in 2002 (Agnew’s Hill) only had 13 species of HygrocybeClick here to see the 2002-04 results.

But are Waxcaps always found in grasslands? In North America, they are considered to be woodland fungi and there is a thought that they have moved out from woods in Europe into grasslands (or the woods were felled and they adapted well to their new treeless habitat). However, in Ireland, unlike GB, we seem to find waxcaps commonly in woods as well as grasslands. Here is a list of Waxcaps found so far in woods in Ireland:

Hygrocybe berkeleyi
Hygrocybe calciphila
Hygrocybe cantharellus
Hygrocybe ceracea
Hygrocybe chlorophana
Hygrocybe coccinea
Hygrocybe conica
Hygrocybe glutinipes
Hygrocybe insipida
Hygrocybe irrigata
Hygrocybe miniata
Hygrocybe mucronella
Hygrocybe persistens
Hygrocybe pratensis
Hygrocybe psittacina
Hygrocybe punicea
Hygrocybe quieta
Hygrocybe reidii
Hygrocybe russocoriacea
Hygrocybe virginea
Hygrocybe vitellina