With Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist
Look out for haws, the red berries of the whitethorn loved by birds, such as fieldfare, thrush and migrating redwing, as well as small mammals.
In folklore, whitethorn was associated with magic. To interfere with lone fairy thorn trees, trees growing on ringforts or other archaeological features was very unlucky. Boughs laden with haws are found on whitethorn trees which have been allowed to grow into mature trees, both within treeline hedges or on individual whitethorn trees growing within topped hedges. Having treeline or escaped hedges with mature whitethorn trees and retaining individual thorn trees within topped hedges are both essential for our native Irish biodiversity.
It’s Christmas cake season, and if you haven’t already started, well now is the time to do so. I love making my Christmas cakes from mid to late October and aging them in a cool, dark place until December when it’s time to add the marizpan and decorate.
There is nothing like a well-aged, homemade Christmas cake to give as a gift around the holidays.
So, how do you age your cakes? I was taught a long time ago to use muslin, or cheesecloth. Once the cakes are baked and cooled, soak your muslin in rum, brandy or whiskey – whichever alcohol you use for your cakes (I like rum). This is slightly messy so use a tray to catch any excess liquid. Lay out the soaked muslin on the tray, then wrap the cake up in the soaked cloth. Then, wrap the cake in a layer of cling film followed by tightly wrapping in foil.
Leave the cakes in a cold, dark place until you’re ready to decorate.
“Interestingly, 51% of people say it [carbon] is personally important to them; 53% say there’s too many different messages relating to carbon footprint and emissions; yet 52% have no idea what their carbon footprint should be.”
There’s something incredibly romantic about arriving in a bustling station when it’s dark, finding your couchette (compartment) and settling in for a journey that crosses borders, countries and timelines while you’re asleep.” travel writer Caroline Hennessy.
The Man Who Never Slipped Up
The man who never slipped up, was brought to church today.
All his life, he did things right, never faltered along the way.
He never lost his temper, he never told a lie,
Not even just a tiny one to sometimes just get by.
He never once was jealous, of the grass that he could see,
In his neighbour’s plot, though a greener spot, it often seemed to be.
He never once was indiscreet; he never stole a kiss,
He never ventured down that street to someone else’s Miss.
He never thought of robbing, n’or murder in the first.
Not even when against the wall and things were at their worst.
He never once was racist, not even in his mind,
He never once was sexist, not ever once unkind.
He never tapped the chapel plate pretending it was cash,
He never swung an acid tongue to give a friend a lash.
He never thought that God had died, and left us on our own,
His faith it never faltered once, he never felt alone.
He never cried with hopelessness, he never once was sad,
Happy as the day was long, no deed he did was bad,
Every deed was always done for someone else’s gain,
He never put himself ahead of someone else’s pain.
That mystery man who never fell, was buried here this morn’.
...He’s buried deep within our hearts, he hasn’t yet been born.
Michael Creagh, author. For information on his poems, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Maria Moynihan speaks with artisan candle maker Anna Naessens, who owns and operates A.N. Candle Co.