A Mushroom Forage


Dunlewey Village

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”


Feile an Earagail

Feile an Earagail is an annual festival held in the beautiful village of Dunlewey, which lies at the foot of Earagail Mountain – the highest mountain in Donegal.

Last year I booked a mushroom forage or “Toraiocht na Muisiriun Fiain” led by Kristina Ferry in the grounds of Dunlewey House.

The forage took place in the woods surrounding the house.



The first find of the day was a large specimen of the edible mushroom “Penny Bun” which is a member of the Bolete family. It thrives in mixed woods.


The Penny Bun

We learned that most Boletes are ectomycorrhizal fungi, meaning they form a mutually beneficial relationship with the root systems of trees. The fungi help the trees to feed on soil nutrients, while the trees deliver nutrients to the fungi. A win-win relationship.

Boletes cannot survive without trees.

The Larch Bolete grows near Larch trees and is only edible when young. It has spores and is very sticky.

The Birch Bolete has a long stem, white pores and a brown cap. It grows near Birch trees.

Mushroom Identification

Spores are a good means of identifying mushrooms. Kristina showed us a map of spores she had taken in the past.

20180807_162007.jpgSpore Map

We were advised that reddish spored mushrooms should be avoided as they are often poisonous.

Indeed, some mushrooms like the Web Cap are deadly poisonous!

Other means of mushroom identification are:

  • The appearance of the stem,
  • Colour of stem,
  • Scent,
  • Appearance of gills,
  • Colour of cap…

Kristina advised us not to mushroom forage alone.


Chanterelle are highly prized edible mushrooms. They have a faint smell of apricots.



Helpful Books

There are a number of helpful books to aid in mushroom identification, but I realized it is best left to the experts.

20180807_162157.jpgHeading Home

Sadly, the forage came to an end and we headed back past magnificent views of Earagail Mountain.20180804_150148.jpg

The Perfect Ending

A surprise find of two very large Penny Bun’s, by a junior member of our group, was the perfect ending to our forage.


Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.




  1. i enjoyed this tremendously Brigid, never knew about some of the species and the red spores. I would so like to go on such a tour. I spotted wild mushrooms on my hikes in Malaysia but never have guidance what they are. thank you for a very interesting post, love the photo details

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow, those are amazing mushrooms! Sounds like a fascinating day. I’ve been on a mushroom walk once before, and we lucked out because there were dozens of species to be found. (We ID’d them, didn’t forage, though.) Thank you for this lovely article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How funny! We have foraged successfully for Chanterelle and Coulemelle and the occasional cèpe but had not thought of doing the same here. Until the last fortnight. The day before yesterday we picked more than a lb of chanterelles and last night we dined on Bolete Bicolore (we have also found Coulemelle which have a different name here and ate a beauty at the weekend). We had not done spore prints before but being in alien territory we did do one on the Coulemelle (they have very dangerous fake friends here) and on the cèpe. I am an absolutely smitten kitten and it was joyous to read of your triumphs over the water!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m with you, looking for and eating wild mushrooms is not something I’ve ever had nerve to do. Morels are very popular here, But, the spices I eat, is “go get it at the grocery store.” I do like splurging on Shiitakes once in a while.

    I’ve never heard of a mushroom walk but, after reading your post, I looked it up and found there is a Missouri wild mushroom society, The Missouri Mycological society-they are even having an art show in Kansas City this month-who knew. I always learn something new when you write.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I adore mushroom risotto and homemade mushroom soup but like you my mushrooms are always bought in a shop. Wouldn’t be lovely to visit the art show.
      I am hoping to go another private forage with Kristina.


  5. Thank you for taking us on your journey, I love mushrooms!
    My Dad is a horticulturist & was head lecturer at the College but he said don’t pick & easy mushrooms unless you have an expert with you as many innocent ones are dealt poisonous!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh how fun, I love mushrooms, I’ve never gone foraging and I don’t think there are mushrooms growing around here, I’ll have to look into that. Thanks for this lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful trip you had to see all the species of mushrooms, Brigid! One documentary show we watch was about the first antibiotic created by a scientist using mushrooms. We eat mushrooms every day now. Thank you for sharing about your trip!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So interesting Brigid!! Your really were able to find all kinds of mushrooms!! And the identifying information sounds so helpful– What an adventure! Thanks for letting get in on it! Hope you’ve had a beautiful weekend… xox

    Liked by 1 person

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