“Peter Farrell? East Laois Macra? Sure you know that’s Pat and Caroline’s son.”

As time passes, I find that when a person (child) is being honoured for an accolade, it is now the parents I know. This conversation was instigated as Peter Farrell was the deserved winner of the recent Macra na Feirme creative writing competition.

We are delighted to print his short story, After Milking, this week. I sent my congratulations to his parents.

Peter Farrell, who won the short story section of the Macra writing competition.

We get very positive feedback on Reader Writes contributions. These can be the authors’ own story, or a story like Peter’s that will resonate with others. This voice can also be captured by one of our team. Our My Country Living page (MCL) is written in a first-person conversational style (predominantly) by Anne O’Donoghue. And on this page, we do not edit the colloquial language.

At times, this can cause some consternation between which is right; to “correct” the English and lose the voice or to keep the voice and risk the grammar police. I generally err on the side of the voice. One particular MCL had voices raised as we debated the spelling of the word “era”. Or is it “ara” or “errah”?

There appears to be a county difference. With it not being a “real word”, the dictionary was no help. However, when we aim to capture the voice of the subject, if a word peppers the conversation, you can’t very well leave it out.

This week, the MCL voice is that of Cian Walsh who won the Teagasc award at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition with his project on hemp production. This is a young man whose voice, I believe, will be heard in the future, having already addressed the Dáil on this topic.

In recent weeks we have started to put some of these voices out in podcast format too. Anne is your host and you can access them within the articles online. Use the code on the backpage of Irish Country Living if you are not an online subscriber. This week, Tommy Moyles is our guest narrator, giving voice to the aforementioned poignant winning short story by Peter Farrell.

Our acting features editor – Janine – is Canadian and sometimes the type of vernacular we are discussing here goes completely over her head. For example, aside from the Irish terminology regularly voiced in My Country Living, some of our regular commentators’ language can also be confusing to her. In this regard, take a bow, Denny Fitz, GAA aficionado, and Mike Magan for his Tales of Killashee series. Your turn of phrase left Janine at times gazumped but the language is what makes these pieces really special. And many of our readers agree.

With the lockdown now set to continue for some time yet, we have launched another Local Treasures competition. The aim is that our readers share the wonderful amenities within their own 5km. Don’t forget to include some information on what makes your local treasure so special. You can enter by clicking here.

Ann and John Commins inside their 200-year-old sustainably restored cow house on Blackcastle Farm. \ Odhran Ducie

Back in November, I interviewed John and Ann Commins on their Blackcastle Farm in Tipperary for this week’s cover. Ann sadly passed away in January after a long battle with cancer. I hope that I have captured her voice; a voice that was strong and determined. I would like to extend our most sincere condolences to the Commins family on their loss.

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Ach ní dhéanfar dearmad ar an lá, A bhuail Oisín le Niamh