A Taste of Irelandby Mary Bermingham
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- Last leaf - mild November and slow progress on the Kinvara Nature Park
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When I first went to Ballinasloe fair in 1987 the price of a donkey was 5 punts. If I had rented a big field and bought them all up I would be a donkey tycoon today! The place was flooded with them. No longer needed to pull the little orange donkey carts full of turf, people had got fed up of looking at them standing about in the field, and loaded them up into their trailers to sell at the fairs. Tragically most of them ended up on the boat to France for salami or in a truck destined for the horse abattoir to feed the lions in Dublin zoo.
They then became quite scarce and it is much rarer now to see ‘the lad with the long ears’ leaning out over a gate. In the Celtic tiger years the price of a donkey reached 1000 euro. Now that common sense has been restored to Ireland they are advertised on the Done Deal trading website for between 50 and 200 euro.
The top ten funniest tips given to tourists in Ireland
My sister in law’s mother died suddenly on Thursday. She was elderly, but just not the person you would expect to vanish so unexpectedly.
Peggy was part of the furniture. I thought the best compliment you could wish for came from her daughter. She said that whatever happened there was always someone there to say ‘it’s okay’. She has her own lovely family, but that was different and age 41 that unconditional security was gone and she knew what it felt like to be an orphan.
It was the Cruinniú na mBád festival this weekend (‘the gathering of the boats’).
The traditional sailing boats ‘hookers’, some of them 180 years old and crewed by the same families for five generations, symbolically brought the turf from Connemara to Kinvara on Saturday, as they used to do for centuries, until the 1950s when the Bedford truck took over and they ceased to trade.
Kinvara was traditionally a market town. On the borders of Clare and
The four year old pony, Floyd, ended up going to his first show on Sunday. He was third, in the pouring rain, which I was happy about as he was only ridden for the first time in January. Here he is relaxing the day after (right)
I lodged the planning application for the nature centre. As I am an engineer I was able to draw up the plans myself and do all the surveying etc. which means we only have to pay the application fee and because it is a conversion that is minimal.
The barn would contain a farm café and an introduction to the flora and fauna to be found on the mile long nature walk around the farm. This has views of the Burren mountains and includes limestone pavement, rare and alpine flowers, native species of trees, farm animals, poultry and an unusual tidal freshwater lake or ‘turlough’ that attracts a variety of birds and even the odd otter. It is a bite sized piece of the Burren and hopefully you would leave armed with all the information to explore the other ten square miles and full up with a delicious lunch of local produce including our own Aberdeen Angus burgers or home grown soups and salads.
It’s a set you don’t have to worry about forgetting (or learning); designed for the young, old, alien or inebriated.
In a nutshell:
• Stamp towards the opposite four people
• Stamp back
• Gallop to the right
• Gallop to the left
• Twizzle around
• More stamping
• Line up and pass under the arches of the arms in front to change partners.
There were over 100 people waiting for reviews of broken bones; children, seniors and disabled, all called for 1pm.
That makes no sense, the place was crazy.
Holy Communion Day on Saturday. Bouncy castles popped up in every other garden, people came on the radio complaining about the amount of money thrown around, that the only people not affected by the recession were eight-year-old children who would pocket hundreds of euro. Fifty would be standard in a card from a family member or close friend. Then there is the outfit and new clothes for the rest of the family, caterers or a hotel, drink..etc etc etc…
Little girls first Holy Communion outfits (dress, shoes, bag, veil, tiara, umbrella) can run into hundreds. Some schools have insisted on school uniform to stop the competition and keep the focus on the ceremony, which is a good idea. But it is also good for a child to have a day that is about them. They are special, maybe spoilt, but they have a clear signal from their family and community that they are cherished, and that is hugely important for a child.
The joviality of the weekend was blown away by the story emerging of child abuse in the area. Snippets of ghastly information filtered through over a couple of days. Anyone in authority was tight lipped and kept a stony cold silence, terrified to invade privacy or make false accusations.
I was at a hen weekend, the bride’s sister had originally planned that we rented a cottage in the Doonbeg five-star resort, but reality and the recession bit and everything slowly down-scaled to a house borrowed off her cousin in Carron, County Clare.
There was a bit of initiative needed to make up for the tight budget and we started with a treasure hunt across the Burren, counting gates and searching in graveyards for clues. On our quest we visited the famous dolmen at Poulnabroune and Caherconnell Stone ring fort. The area is heaving with fascinating stone-age archaeological sites.
It was a great ice breaker as we didn’t all know each other and fun too with extra points for number of different animals photographed along the way. There was a costume designer on my team and it was good to hear that the film industry seems to be thriving in the barren economic pastures. Her current project is for the RTE web series ‘Storyland’ – a competition for new drama. The mockumentary she is working on ‘The Outlaw Concy Ryan’, filmed in Limerick, is through to the next stage and will raise a smile. (www.rte.ie/storyland )
We caught a few sessions, Stillwater blues in Flatelys, some trad in the back room in Tullys and set dancing at the Pier head.
The new café was open and we got our first spin this year in the boat, a timber curach my husband finished restoring last year.