Category Archives: Irish country diary

Cheese sandwiches in the fairy fields

Coast1  A walk down to the
fairy fields at the end of the Cahermacrusheen boreen where we have a grand
picnic of cheese sandwiches and Tayto crisps and a flask of tea. The sea is
still and the Aran Isles look very close. Most of the land around North Doolin is
parched and the grass dry and brownish as if this was August rather than early
April. But here, on the way to the rocks at the edge of the Burren, the turf is
thick and wet like black gold and little patches of intense green burst out
from beneath the stones.

The kids do a cow
attracting dance that achieves its objective, expect these are bullocks not
cows. On the way back we see a thorn tree decorated with ribbons, materials,
toys, holy water and candles. Next to this is the dry stone wall part of which is
made up of massive horizontal stones, which I have a feeling had once been the lost
Cahermacrusheen dolmen.

Forgotten Small Towns of the Midlands

Driving across Ireland from Dublin to Co. Clare at high speed yesterday I thought, as we flashed by yet another turn-off to a small town, how the Irish driving experience has changed for the worse. No longer is it a slowish procession through interesting main streets with bars, hardware shops and town halls. No longer does one get stuck behind a tractor and start looking at the landscape and buildings and hedgerow flowers.  Where once a driver would talk about the changing scenery and the stories of his journey, now people boast how quickly they did the drive. In some ways it’s a manifestation of our need for instant gratification, wanting to get to a destination as quickly as possible. The midlands then become just an annoying interlude from Tourist Zone A to Tourist Zone B.

Eventually we turned off at Loughrea and sat and ate cheese and ham sandwiches in an old churchyard while the kids played and suddenly I knew where I was once more. Then we continued on to Croughwell on the old road and time stopped speeding past so quickly. I lost the temptation to be permanently overtaking and we became part of a lovely slow convoy behind a lorry, pootling along at a more authentic 50 miles an hour.

The Wind Bucket

We keep a big dirty plastic cement bucket in our back garden to tell us which way the wind is blowing. If it’s up near the gas tank we know it’s a westerly. If it ends up at the edge of the gorse then that means cold northerlies. My father in law is away for a couple of weeks. When he gets back I know the first thing he’ll say is “Where is my big dirty plastic cement bucket?” and I’ll point to the centre of a mass of gorse bushes and shout “Northerlies!”
I’ve taken to thinking that each wind has a different accent. South westerly is a Corkman and northerly a strong Ulster voice. “There will be NO playing in the garden today!” says the Rev. North Wind.

Leeds United/Seasonal headache

It’s Sunday. Which means the wind has changed from south westerly to a freezing, biting North wind. It’s like mid-December. The family of hares has wisely decided to move to warmer climes. Even the blackbird has moved down from his electricity pole and can be seen scrabbling around on the lawn shouting “Where’s the fecking summer gone?” The icy blasts coincided with the onset of one of my seasonal headaches, after which I cannot move for up to three hours. Then again it might have been minor depression brought by falling for the old trick of thinking my team (Leeds United) might actually win a competitive knock-out game. The Championship Playoff Final was a dreary affair and Leeds basically rolled over and let Watford tickle their tummies for half an hour or so, then went to sleep. They need some pace in midfield. I heard myself shouting that to the rest of the family. “I said, they need some pace in midfield!” They all carried on ignoring me. Luckily my heart is now covered in protective scar tissue when it comes to football and I recovered from the drubbing quite quickly this time. But this TV is already showing signs of being unlucky. Maybe I’ll watch the World Cup up in my father in law’s spare bedroom.

The compost bin lid incident

Yesterday morning the lid of the compost bin disappeared. The big plank of wood that keeps it in place was lying on the ground next to the compost bin, but there was no sign of the lid. I immediately suspected corrupt anti-recycling faeries, perhaps in the pay of big agri-business. Or maybe it was faeries who were after something in the compost bin, such as rhubarb leaves and coffee grounds. Or maybe they wanted to use the lid as a little boat so they could sail over to the Aran Isles.

“Or maybe you didn’t put the lid on properly and it’s blown away.” said my wife.

I eventually found the compost bin lid at the bottom of a large gorse bush a few yards away. The mystery deepens.