Rural Rhymes

The Teak Unit

(After John F. Deane’s Shelf Life)

By Mary Ellen Hayward

It loomed in the corner

where the Singer Sewing machine

had once clattered out new clothes from old.

Bought after a visit to Claudy cousins who

were famous for keeping up with the times.

In the bottom, a scaffolding of everyday delph,

a gold painted coffee set, much admired, never used.

A speckled teapot housed a tangled web of

rolled-gold chains, beads, broaches, miraculous medals,

mother’s engagement ring.

In the middle, a circus of remedies:

Snowfire for chilblains, Iodine — brown, brutal,

a rub for ringworm, mixed by a seventh son,

a blue crown-topped, Blessed Virgin-shaped bottle of Lourdes water,

chalk-like medicine, for father’s bad stomach.

Two drawers housed church envelopes,

official forms for drainage schemes.

Labels for potato seed exports — King Edwards, Aran Victors.

Playing cards, Checkers. Scrabble, Ludo.

Green Shield stamps, letters from Maggie.

The top shelves crammed full of books:

an English dictionary, its red cloth cover frayed,

soft and butter stained. Old school textbooks,

Shakespeare, Dickens, First Aid in English

and past editions of Old Moore’s Almanac.

Dry, warm floury new potatoes swimming with lakes of melting, yellow, Irish butter with a liberal seasoning of salt and pepper is as close to culinary nirvana as one can get in this world

Folklore: the secret pleasure of new potatoes

Tweet of the Week

Home management tip

Always have vinegar in your kitchen cupboard, whether it’s for chips or stings!

One of the nastiest things that can happen to a small child is to get a sting from a bee or a wasp or other insect.

Once a sting penetrates the skin, the venom starts to sting and cause irritation and sometimes swelling.

Try not to panic and to keep the person who has received the sting calm. If there is an allergic reaction, do get to a doctor without delay. Never catch a sting to pull it out as you will inject more venom into the person.

Instead use a needle or credit card to knock away the sting. Wash the area with soap and water. Dry it and apply vinegar to the sting spot using a tissue soaked in vinegar. Ice is also a good option to dull the pain.

Some people say that vinegar is good for a bee sting and bread-soda for a wasp sting as the bee sting is acidic and the wasp sting alkaline.

Unfortunately, the make-up of stings is more complex than that. Vinegar usually reduces the discomfort caused by most stings.

Number of the week

€970 million

What the government has committed to spending on childcare by 2028. Read more Childcare in Ireland

Growing wild

With Dr Catherine Keena, Teagasc countryside management specialist

Look out for honeysuckle, also called woodbine, a climber that winds its way clockwise around trees and twines through hedges. It can embrace a tree tightly, leaving a permanent spiral grove.

Scarcely noticed until flowering, clusters of trumpet shaped flowers, red in bud becoming red, pink, golden, yellow or cream, with prominent stamens and stigma, evoke a powerful sweet scent in the evenings, when moths are on the wing.

These include elephant hawkmoth, convolvulus hawkmoth, privet hawkmoth and silver Y.

Following pollination, flowers turn to orange. A symbol of beauty and summertime, also of strength and slow inexorable power, binding tightly as it matures - part of our native Irish biodiversity.