On my very first holiday, as a young child, our family went to stay in a cottage on Sherkin Island, a small island off the coast of West Cork. The ferry which brought visitors to the island also carried island dwellers, livestock, groceries and everything else necessary to life on Sherkin. The trip on the ferry was an adventure in itself. The roads on the island were very narrow, as traffic at that time was mostly the donkey and cart variety. What impressed me the most were the high hedges that lined every road and laneway. These grew tall, way over my head and in some places, met in the centre of the road, creating short tunnels. They were covered with amazingly beautiful red and purple flowers that blazed in the sunshine. It was my first introduction to fuchsias. I loved to take a fuchsia flower in my hand and admire the glistening red petals lying over the deep purple corolla, and the white stamens appearing from under the purple. Best of all, I was shown how to bite off the end of the flower, just where it left the stem, and I could suck the sweet, sugary nectar – to me, this was heaven on earth. My love affair with fuchsias had begun, especially when I learned their Irish names, such as Deoraí Dé – God’s tears, Ladies’ eardrops and many other equally beautiful names.