It’s late August, the sun is relentless, searing heat ,energy-sapping, becoming intolerable for this writer. In the middle of a ten acre field, my task was back-bending toil of pulling the “buachalan buidh” or ragwort (Senecio jacobaea). It’s a lethal poisonous weed to grazing animals and is a particular danger to horses in baled hay long after growth. Sheep will nibble around it. Cattle usually avoid it. In this same field last year I filled about twenty empty fertiliser bags with the weed. this year less than five full bags. Hard work pays off.
Years ago the local Garda might be passing by on his bike and if he spotted that your field was full of ragwort he could prosecute you under a 1936 act. In modern times the farmer can be penalised under his single farm payments that he receives under CAP payments.
The next day the daughter announced she had a few days break from work. So the Lady of the Manor and myself accompanied her on a day out. We decided to go for a hike in Clonbur wood. The day was good, ideal for walking. We did a looped walk of about 8 km. These woods are now managed by Coillte. This was formerly part of the Ashford estate belonging to the Guinness family until 1939. It consists of mixed woodland of different tree species such as beech, ash, hazel, birch, willow, yew and scots pine. The walk-ways through the forest are easy to walk on and occasionally you get different views of Lough Mask and it’s various islands.
On the way home as we were all suffering due to a lack of food, we stopped by a hotel in Cong, we sated our emptiness. Being in Cong brings it all back as this picturesque border village is where it all began for this family that are having a day out. Forty-two years ago almost to the date, the future Lady of the Manor and myself first met, in the “House of Music”. It was a well known dance hall, which is long gone, replaced by some none-descript buildings.
The thought comes to me that it’s important to record these events so the next generation can understand what life was like for us when we first met .