Wildflowers on the Darndale Roundabout / Rachael Hegarty

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Wildflowers are like poems because they ambush us in the most unexpected places. In Rachael Hegarty’s exhilarating new collection they unlock memories and meditations. Snapdragons conjure a Finglas childhood, the scent of wild roses distil the essence of a grandmother, iris unlocks the memory of a first date and rock centaury evokes fears of global warming. Wildflowers on the Darndale Roundabout is the poetic equivalent of opening a lavish volume of botanical illustrations. Hegarty uses each plant as a touchstone to venture into her past and present and venture across Ireland – from finding western gorse beyond the Derry Walls to discovering mountain avens growing wild in the Burren. Her eye roams at will, ready to be caught and surprised by sudden explosions of wild colour, by incursions of nature bursting forth, captured in a dazzling array of forms. This book is a bouquet for everyone.  

Dermot Bolger


Wildflowers on the Darndale Roundabout is a thrilling piece of work. Hegarty belts out her delight in flowers in every verse. She ransacks the realms of poetry: Sonnets, Odes, Heroic Couplets, Haikus and more besides. There is even an ‘Aisling’ (a ‘vision poem’) in which ‘the mob of blooms’ close in on the poet – until she swears to do better. There is a nostalgic strain, for a simpler, untidier Ireland, where flowers ran free and bloomed as they would – not blasted by herbicidal mania, mown down to the ground or marshalled into commercial seed mixes. Hegarty has a gutsy, Northside voice, full of warmth and energy but she also wanders the length and breadth of the country, rhapsodizing a lone Cuckoo-flower by a ditch in County Down; the Red Campions (‘champions’) by a roadside near Roscommon, or sand dune Fairy Flax ‘so small’ only the children can see it. Her verses will have a wide appeal.

Dr Daniel L Kelly, Fellow Emeritus, Botany, Trinity College, Dublin


What I love most about wildflowers is that they choose their own space to flourish. Left in peace they have agency. Their powers are legion —  for healing, for tripping, for taking the bare look off the side of a mountain or lake. They bring beauty into the weathers of our lives, they lift our hearts and delight our senses. Rachael Hegarty is a bit of a wildflower herself. She understands that wildflowers have personality. They are the superstars of her new collection which is part memoir by wildflower, part herbal, part shrine to their beauty. Read her with a Guide to hand or on your screen to verify how scientifically and powerfully she paints, draws, sketches and presses wildflowers for meaning and comfort. No swooning Victorian lady she, but an avatar of liberation. She flies her accent like a flag of defiance all over our island and its myriad habitats. ‘… Let them be left/ O let them be left, wildness and wet;/ Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet’, wrote the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1881. Rachael Hegarty understands how more urgent that plea is today, and she places at the service of the wildflowers’ beauty and usefulness all her considerable, admirable, versecraft and passion.

Paula Meehan

Rachael Hegarty was born seventh child of a seventh child in Dublin and reared on the Northside. She was educated by the Holy Faith Sisters in Finglas, the U. Mass. Bostonians in America, the M.Phillers at Trinity College, Dublin, and by the Ph.D. magicians at Queens, Belfast. Rachael lived, studied and worked in Boston and Japan for ten years. She now lives, back on the Northside, with her feminist husband and two beloved-bedlam boys. She is widely published in national and international journals and broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1.  Rachael was the winner of the Francis Ledwidge Prize and Over the Edge New Writer of the Year. Her debut collection, Flight Paths Over Finglas (Salmon Poetry), won the 2018 Shine Strong Award.