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CC Babington and Mackay's Heath

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Roger Horton

Joined: 02 Oct 2012
Posts: 1545
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 13, 2015 5:40 pm    Post subject: CC Babington and Mackay's Heath Reply with quote

Erica mackaiana (Mackay's Heath)

James Townsend Mackay (1775–1862) was a Scottish botanist who lived in Ireland.

From 7th - 20th August, 1835, C.C. Babington was in Dublin to attend a meeting of the British Association, during which he met Mackay and went on several botanising trips together. It was not until 1st September that Babington reached Roundstone, and, according to the entry in his Journal, it was the following day that William MacCalla showed him "a new heath nearly allied to E. tetralix". There has been confusion caused by variation in local names of its location, and by early herbarium labels erroneously dated to August.

From an article in Irish Botanical News (1995) Botany – a Roundstone view, by T. Robinson:

"Collecting litter for his cattle one day he [William McCalla] noticed a slightly different heather on a hillock called Na Creaga Móra, in Roundstone Bog a few kms north of the village. When Charles Babington, the Cambridge botanist, visited in 1835 McCalla took him to see E. mediterranea, and the next day showed him the new heather. ... Babington also sent samples of the heather to Mackay, who forwarded them to Hooker at Kew, saying that McCalla 'promised to be a useful person in the country'. Eventually it was named E. mackaiana after Mackay, who one could say was indirectly responsible for its discovery through his encouragement of McCalla."

The Flora of Connemara and the Burren says "Craiggamore: The name often used in the literature for Lough Nambrackmore and the adjacent hill L7145"
see D. A. Webb, The Irish Naturalists' Journal Vol. 11, No. 7 (July 1954), pp. 186-192.
(map on first page)

The summit of "the hill" is 201ft in altitude and at L721448.

The names used for the site include (all VCH16 West Galway.):
Craigie More
Na Creaga Móra
(Lough) Nambrackmore
Roundstone Bog
North of Roundstone (Cloch na Rón)
Beside road from Clifden to Cashel or to Roundstone


W. J. Hooker in Companion to the Botanical magazine (1835) ANOTHER HEATH FOUND IN IRELAND.

J. T. Mackay (1836) in Flora Hibernica.

C. C. Babington (1837) in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, vol. 37, pp. 456-457.

P. D. Sell (1990-1991) in Short Notes. Watsonia 18, 81-95 [pdf].
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