Last Monday, I attended the fair day in Kenmare for the first time in well over 25 years. My father was keen to bring my daughter, Fallon, and so we decided to make it a family day out. That is one of the many lovely things about having young children: they give you the best excuse to re-visit your own childhood haunts and traditions and to see them again through their eyes.
As kids, we spent much of our holidays at our grandparents’ dairy farm and B&B in south Kerry, and the fair day – or “the 15th of August” as most people referred to it – was the highlight of our summer.
Pocket money earned setting tables and dusting skirting boards for our grandmother in the guesthouse was put aside to splurge at the stalls that lined Main Street and Henry Street. Though on one occasion, myself and my sister turned up to trade ourselves – illegally I’m sure – landing into town with a box of mackerel that we had caught fishing with our cousins and a hastily made cardboard sign.
As far as I recall, some American tourists – obviously taking us for street urchins – eventually took pity on the two tiny wastrels before them and bought the fish. That was the beginning and end of my entrepreneurship. Michael O’Leary was never going to lose a night’s sleep over me anyway.
I was reminded of my brief stint as a child-fishmonger as I read Amii’s article this week on her “Catch and Cook” experience at Howth Castle cookery school. Though her efforts in fishing, filleting and cooking her catch were obviously a lot more successful – and appetising – than mine.
We have plenty to read in this edition. I recently met with Mike Parle and Darcie Mayland of Lost Valley Dairy. The couple – who have a background in opera and restaurant management – began making cheese almost by accident when they bought eight acres in west Cork in 2017; but in the process, have invented a new, native – and award-winning – cheese. Their journey very much reminds me of the back stories of so many of our famous farmhouse cheeses, like Milleens, which Veronica Steele started with a one-horned cow called Brisket in 1978. The rest is history.
In our ongoing summer show series, Niamh Gunn meets Shane Maher of Tullow Agri Show, who explains why he believes it’s important for young people to get involved on show committees.
Author and farmer John Connell shares an extract from his latest book, The Stream of Everything, and we have all your favourite contributors, from Katherine O’Leary to Neven.
Enjoy the read; I’m off to get some fish.