Lisdoonvarna is a state of mind more than a town of a thousand people in Co Clare. I have never set foot in the place, but sometimes find myself singing its name as part of Brendan Shine’s song, Catch me if you can.
The line goes something like, “And I’m off to Lisdoonvarna at the end of the year, I’m off for the bitta craic, the …” We won’t finish the line as you can’t say anything these days without offending somebody.
Like the Ploughing and the Listowel Races, I assume it is no coincidence that the matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna took place at a time of the year when farmers were somewhat winding down after a busy summer and harvest.
And if you were going to take a break for a few days at all, where better to go than the music and dancing in Listowel or Lisdoon (as it was shortened to around here).
A few days in Listowel was my father’s annual holiday. As young lads, we were never told half the stories of what went on, but I have no doubt calling them wild would be putting it mildly.
What little I could gather comes from seeing the Listowel publican and author, John B Keane, on the Late Late Show.
If you can, look him up on YouTube. His interviews with Gay Byrne will give you a laugh amidst the doom-and-gloom that passes for news these days.
Try to find him telling the story about a group of Cork lads who nearly missed Listowel one year, after they got delayed in Portlaoise, coming back from an All-Ireland in Croke Park the previous Sunday.
But we are all civilised and sensible now, and while this is the Lisdoon time of year, being a part-time farmer means there’s always a few jobs to be done in whatever time you have.
To be fair, having a young family means the wild inclinations are mostly gone out of me. And if I said to herself that I was going away for a few days for music and dancing, then I’d be told in no uncertain terms that Lisdoon or Listowel could keep me.
So, I’ll play it safe and stick to the few jobs that have to be done around the place.
There’s more fencing to be finished. And of course the new shed isn’t ready yet. The last of the fertiliser will be spread between the time I’m writing this and you’re reading it.
Calves and store cattle need to be weighed. And I have a few other bits and pieces written down that will keep me busy too.
I’d weigh the calves anyway to get a sense of how they are doing, and how well I am looking after them, but being in the dairy-beef calf weighing scheme makes this exercise a no-brainer.
At €20 per calf, I’ll get €600 from the scheme in exchange for my data. It will help pay for some of their milk powder, meal, straw, grass, and veterinary costs.
When the man with the scales is in the yard, we’ll weigh the 16- to 18-month-old cattle as well. With that information, I will decide how many I can afford to put into the shed for winter, and how many can be sold as stores (or finished) in the coming weeks to help pay the bills.
Maybe I’m being optimistic but if they go well, then a night away and a Lisdoon state-of-mind is not out of the question yet, as long as I ask herself to come with me, obviously.