Picture of the week

Silage inspectors: Katelyn and Dervla Desmond with their dog Sparky checking out the silage to see if it ready for picking up in Newcestown, Co Cork.

Rural Rhymes

Turf cutting with my father part 2

By Trevor Johnston

As I look back.

I see him still.

Carving lumps of black gold

His wife stands calmly

On the lowest floor.

Lifting the sodden lumps

Onto the wooden flat bottomed barrow

I stood patiently behind

The splintered shafts.

Soon the barrow would be full

And I would wheel it carefully

Across the moss

To be unloaded by young

Nimble hands.

Their work now begun.

There would be no more


Dragon flies and butterflies

Across the broad expanse

I wheeled the barrow

Back to the bog hole

And the cutting chores resumed.

Down past the first two floors

To the rich black turf

Nature’s caviar of the bog.

Morning rolled into dusk

No chatter.

Too tired to even

Move our lips.

We massaged our tired sun burnt limbs

And aching backs

We would eat well,

Sleep well.

Knowing that our honest toils

Would warm the Winter nights.

I dream of those days

Of honest toil.

A tear streams down my cheek

As I stand and ponder at the now

Broken body of my father

Who can no longer

Lift a spoon

Never mind a sleán.

Growing Wild with Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc countryside management specialist

Whitethorn flower

Look out for whitethorn with white flowers on green palmate or lobed leaves. The May blossom – often featuring in photos of the first silage cutting and photos of the Irish countryside – is synonymous with our farmed landscape.

Known as whitethorn by farmers and rural people, it is also called hawthorn – which is why all trees and plants have an official Latin name.

A mature whitethorn is one of the loveliest of trees, but seldom allowed grow into the magnificent tree it can become. Supporting 62 larger Irish moth species – it is part of our native Irish biodiversity.

Katherine's home management tip:

Neutral, light colours are all the rage and it is difficult to keep paintwork clean from the wear and tear marks of everyday life. It is particularly so when toddlers and small children are about with sticky fingers.

A good trick is to apply a coat of water based varnish over the new paint. Do wait a few days to make sure the paint is completely dry. Go up about a metre high with the varnish, fading it out gradually.

A good paint brush is necessary to be able to apply a light coat of varnish. You will be able to wipe it clean with ease. It will last for years. If you want to paint over it at any stage, give it a good wash with sugar soap and off you go again.

Quote of the week

We only have today and nobody knows what tomorrow will throw at us. That’s the way I look at life, and if there’s a bad day, it only lasts 24 hours and it usually never lasts that long. You have to break it down. So that’s my resilience – Mairéad O’Sullivan, on living with cancer

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