It was the day after Con Houlihan died when Katie Taylor won Olympic gold and a silver trout was caught in the local river. That same day, some special hay was saved and a start was made on the delayed harvest. As the coming of the trout proves, matters can always change for the better...
There’s a river, well, most of the time it’s more a stream, running adjacent to a certain beloved bit of land. Water seems to sprawl from it in every direction for miles. And, Ireland being as she is, there’s always a decent level of water in it. Surrounding it, the land is divided between grassland and tillage.
Even though hedgerows are in some places as scarce as the blackberries that used to grow on them, plenty of wildlife still abounds in the area. Rabbits take possibly a bigger shining to the hay than the cattle and sheep that will end up eating it! They’re not averse to a bit of grain seemingly either. Though with the latter, the often face stiff competition from foxes and deer. Attempts to curtail the impact of these visitors often leads to much humour and hilarity while enjoying a quiet pint in Brady’s!
Anyway, while the animal life already mentioned has often been encountered, due mostly to my brother’s avid interest in such things, fish never really came up on the agenda. Apart from one time he went on a fishing trip to Ballinrobe in Mayo years ago. Funny thing, though maybe not surprisingly, once The Old Man And The Sea was encountered, my knowledge of and interest in fish developed a bit more. Far more of them are known by name and plenty of them are eaten now as well for a variety of reasons!
For all that, I was never sure what the numbers – or varieties – of fish close to home were. An aficionado of angling matters once imparted the view that too much rain drives the fish too far underwater from the perspective of a fisherman. Whether this is true or not is not known but recent events would appear to add credence to the theory.
It’s said in some places that whoever oversees things in the great control tower up above never closes one door but opens another. If it’s true that fish don’t even like the rain it’d be tough to see truth in that theory. But events over an emotional – and in a strange way fitting – few days, might have saved the reputation of that viewpoint.
Con Houlihan’s passing caused profound sadness to a vast swathe of people. It was definitely the end of an era. His last published sports column strongly praised Katie Taylor. The day after Ireland’s greatest wordsmith was laid to rest, Taylor’s coronation as the marvellously talented, inspirational sportsperson and young lady she is was taking place in London.
It was an occasion Con would have produced a masterpiece from. Indeed, one sensed that he was getting a piece ready in the pressroom above. It was a day too good to be down to coincidence. Not just in a sporting sense either. That latter statement was made for reasons very close to home and takes our tale back to the river.
On the day Katie was mining gold on the streets of London I saw another wonderful sight - a keen angler nabbed a rainbow trout on part of the said stretch of water. It was the first time your columnist ever heard of albacore (reading Con informed one that it was another word for trout) – or any species of fish being apprehended thence. It was in keeping with what was a brilliant spell and it wasn’t hard to imagine the Kerryman making one brilliant piece out of everything that went on at the time.
Now, it tends – in some spots at least – to be the cause of some hilarity, curiosity and, sadly, derision, that yours truly is interested in and passionate about farming. The reason is simple – my brother worked on a farm when I was growing up, so I was surrounded by machinery, cattle and the like and fell in love with it all.
What it also did was allow for the beginning of a treasured friendship with the Clarke family that I hope will endure forever. One thing that will definitely always be the case is that getting out observing agricultural activity is a priceless form of therapy for the occupant of this seat.
The following statement applies to all facets of life this year but surely most especially to farmers – weather conditions have been depressing. And left things difficult, and costly. The appearance of the trout was the sign of a turn for the better. Sun came out to match the glow of events in a boxing ring not too far away.
All of which meant that a certain special bit of hay got made up and a start was made at the harvest. Things are running approximately three weeks later than last year. But as the coming of the trout proves, matters can always change for the better. Hopefully many and varying adventures will be had before the year’s out.
Evening falls... as the last of the hay is baled on Clarke's farm near Dunboyne...