While Derrynaflan has preserved for future generations a rich spiritual heritage, its small sister island Derrynabrone, of an estimated seven acres, has kept alive a precious ecological habitat which consists of old Irish Oak trees as well birch, gorse and a dense undergrowth of briars and ivy that makes a lot of the island impenetrable. Its isolated location surrounded by wet marshy bog probably helped keep the tree loggers at a safe distance. This area is under the care of Bord na Mona who are developing Native Woodland Projects. (See Good Biodiversity News from Littleton Bog Group, Tipperary Star, October 22, 2020.)
It is known locally as Little Island, Horse Island and local man Billy Foley knows it as Whort Island- probably related to the whortleberry (bilberry, huckleberry).
Visitors to Derrynaflan Island have remarked that there are no oak trees growing there in spite of its name "the oak-wood of the Flans". In a well researched article, "Some interesting finds from Littleton Bog" in "A History of Moycarkey School, 1847-2009," Liam O'Donoghue, p.219 ,"Peat-milling operations in the bog around Derrynaflan revealed traces of a number of wooden trackways. At least four could be traced between the bog islands of Derrynaflan and Derrynabrone to the east". One wonders if the oak-wood on Derrynabrone is the one referred to in the Derrynaflan name?
As soon as the new cycle-way is put in place under the "Just Transition Fund" visitors will have a good view of Derrynabrone. Information boards telling the bog story from different perspectives would greatly enrich their visit.
Some local scholar of Irish might inform readers as to the meanings and connections between these local area words: Derreen, Derricknew, Derrynaflan, Derrynabrone, Derryvella, Derryhogan, Derryfadda and others yet to be named.
The large crowd of walkers that visited Grange walk last Sunday as well as the closure of Kilcooley Woods to visitors, makes the development of safe well-maintained public walks with access to wood and boglands an urgent public-health necessity, especially in pandemic times when homes which were once a place of refuge have become schools and workplaces invaded by a barrage of wi-fi information.
The good news is that two local eco-warriors have planted over a hundred acorns from Derrynabron wood and are anxiously awaiting Spring growth in the hope of sharing them with anyone interested.