Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Half Way There

New feature in the nearby village - this splendid stone unveiled
on Sunday.
I was posting last time about the Celtic Festival, 'Lughnasa', the start of the Harvest. This used to be held on the morning of August 1st but inevitably got hi-jacked by the Christian church and now moves with the 'last Sunday in July' and is famous locally for the huge (10,000+) "pilgrimage" hike up local Holy Mountain, Croagh Patrick or "The Reek" (764 m or 2507 feet in old money). Down in Kerry they have the popular 'Puck Fair' which has to do with crowning a wild goat caught for the occasion among all the more usual modern show/fete attractions.

Castlerea's brass band play us in. 
Here, you'll know that archery instructor Con, holds his Lughnasa Celtic Games but for our nearby village of Lough Glynn, a much more local and recent celebration. They chose that Sunday to unveil the new Centenary Garden, memorial to the signatories to the "Proclamation of the Republic". My UK friends may not know this piece of Irish history and, being no historian myself, I would hesitate to describe events here - if you would like to know more then go off and research Easter Rising or 1916 Ireland.

There was a good turn-out of local politicians. On the right is
one of our TDs (=MPs), Michael Fitzmaurice (Independent)
Very (and inadequately) briefly, a huge step in the journey of Ireland from British Colony to Independent State took place at Easter in 1916 when a small band of Irish men and women rose up under arms and took over some bits of Dublin, most famously the GPO building. From the steps in front of the GPO they proclaimed the new State and themselves as the 'provisional government'. Obviously there could be no hope of these few revolutionaries winning this one and the British Military crushed the uprising quickly enough including shelling the GPO with Howitzers.

The CE scheme which Liz helps to administer, gets the credit here
The 'rebels' surrendered and were carted off to jail. It is widely said that most of the country were not involved and thought that all the events far away in Dublin were just the acts of 'poets and dreamers'. Then, however, the Brits made a bad move and executed all 7 signatories to the proclamation plus 9 other leaders. Suddenly those "un-involved" folk were very much involved - these lads (and lasses) might be poets and dreamers but they are OUR poets and dreamers. A huge movement kicked off which put Ireland through dozens of events and stages, a War of Independence and a Civil War and the establishment of the new fledgling state in 1937. There, see! 100 years of very complex Irish history in 2 paragraphs. HUGE apologies to anyone reading this and shaking their heads in disgust and disbelief.

Chivers and Chip are getting curious
Anyway, what ever the case with the following events, this year is the Centenary of that Proclamation and our village did it proud. A marching band from Castlerea played it all in (and stayed around to play the hoisting of the tri-colour and the National Anthem), The MC made a short speech, the beautiful stone was unveiled, an aged Monseigneur did the blessing bit, 2 local school children read out the Proclamation itself, 2 of the 'Tidy Towns' committee ladies hoisted the flag and a local lass sung, very well and unaccompanied, popular local patriotic song "The Woodlands of Lough Glynn". An impressive turn-out lined both sides of the road (at least 200 including 5 local politicians) and clapped, cheered and sung the National Anthem appropriately, before the event broke up for photographs and a goodly spread of refreshments in a marquee set up at one end of the garden. We thoroughly enjoyed the event.

At the "smutty sausages" with Sue. 
Our other main event over that weekend was  a 'Sausage Fest' over at Sue and Rob's. They have a decent sized, powerful meat-grinder and sausage stuffing machine which we have been planning to use shared between us to make sausages and Sue had checked her freezer(s) and found a mountain of pork joints she had forgotten about.

We got quite good at it with time and produced
some quite professional looking 'links'.
If you have never done sausage making then you may not know what a rich vein of 'toilet' humour lurks there what with the need to keep everything wet and slippery, to carefully slide huge lengths of sausage skin up (we used natural gut, rather than the modern 'plastic' stuff) and then to draw full sausages off the end of the filler spout, squeezing the continuous bead of meat into individual sausage lengths. Well, there is if you have that 'naughty school boy' inside you trying to get out. We had a great laugh with it all, almost crying with laughter at some stages. Phnarr phnarr, tish tish. We got the job done though - pushing about 15-20 kg of mix through the two sizes of 'blade', making 2 different mixes (Cumberland and a Lincolnshire with added apple) and stuffing half of each into skins all in about 90 minutes. Teamwork.

Beef is the traditional Lughnasa fare.
We broke for a lovely lunch (Thanks, Sue and Rob!) of baked spuds, salad and (of course) both flavours of sausage, followed by 'Millionaire's Shortbread' and then had a masterclass in goat milking. I struggle with that, being unused to the small teats on a goat (compared to the good 4 hand fulls on a cow! ) but Rob assured us that they were as slow and rubbish as we now are originally. They used to take an hour for each of their 3 goats with the bucket getting sent flying by the animal's hoof, or Sue getting impatient with the goat. They now work as a team with one of them sat either side of the milkee doing just one teat each and taking no more than about 15 minutes per goat. The goats have also learned to love this process and stand co-operatively as long as there are a few bits of fresh carrot in their bucket of grub. They get about 9 litres from the 3 animals (total) per day.

365 Picture - a dog walker in Creevy townland.
But why my 'Half Way There' tag? In this house, July 31st may have been Lughnasa but for Liz and I it marked an important milestone on the 365 photographic project, our photographic record of the village's (and surroundings's) everyday life captured by local photographers. The project had launched on 1st Feb 2016, so 31st July was the half way point. It is going OK but it has, of course, had its ups and downs. Most importantly, we have not missed any days. We have a dozen or more contributors so we now have around 700 pictures. You can see some of these by clicking on the links to 365 "Year so far" from the village website (LisaculInfo.ie) where there are also a couple of thematic albums (Bio-diversity, the Village Play etc) up there on photo sharing website 'Flickr'. My role is as 'backstop' to make sure that there is at least one (preferably 3 plus) shot(s) for every calendar day, so I was delighted to pass the half way marker and start taking August pictures - it feels a bit like the run-in to the end, even though that (31st Jan 2017) is ages away and 700 more pictures.

No comments: