Tuesday 15 May 2018

Repeal the 8th

Gorse to our North glowing in the morning
Any Irish person of around Elizabeth's age will tell you a similar story of the Irish education system's attempts to teach them all the Irish language. Irish schooling is famously identical throughout the land. There is only one 'examinations board' so every child from Cork to Donegal and from Galway to Dublin learns exactly the same syllabus from the same books and takes identical exams on identical dates and at the same times.

Apple Blossom
In the case of the Irish language which was taught very badly, in a dry and dusty fashion, 'by rote' and using some dire text books, this meant that those same people all have the same memories of hating having to learn Irish which they saw as a dead language and of no relevance to their 'modern'  70s and 80s lives. The main target of this loathing was a story of the life of one 'Peig Sayers' who lived a life of poverty, cold, damp and outright misery on a then almost uninhabited (and now uninhabited) lump of rock off the West coast, called Blasket Island.

More blossom
Elizabeth has shared many memories of having to read 'Peig' with many people she has met over the years since. It is like we Brits remembering how "bad" school dinners were. I have since read the book myself (in English, of course) and I can see what they mean.

That keyhole bed all restored and ready for use again.
Peig herself was allegedly quite a wonderful lady, a gripping and entertaining story teller much called upon locally for evening socials. She was old and blind by the time she came to 'tell all' and I have been told that the telling would have been well spiced up and peppered with 'naughty' bits, racy asides, dodgy anecdotes and other fun. Sadly she dictated it to a stodgy brother who wrote it all down but then only submitted a very clean, wholesome version for publication.

Hostas by the pond. The rather odd perspective because we are
looking down at a blue sky reflected in the water. 
Worse, says Elizabeth, was that Peig lived through all the "interesting" bits of recent Irish history including the Land War, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War, the establishment of the Irish Free State AND the establishment, finally, of the Republic of Ireland WITHOUT MENTIONING ANY OF THEM. How, asks Elizabeth, did her 'story' ever become the Education Dept's choice of the best possible book in Irish about those times?

'Repeal the 8th' voting paperwork
But hey, Peig Schmeg. Where am I going with all this? Only here. Heaven forbid anyone is reading this in a hundred more years time and researching how life was for a newly arrived smallholder trying to get his head round Irish ways, and wondering how I failed to mention that the country went through two really traumatic, historic events at the time. In May 2015 there was a Referendum aimed (successfully) at changing the Constitution to allow same-sex marriage and this month there is to be another on a thorny abortion issue currently enshrined in the 8th Amendment of the document. .

Guinea Fowl
If you want to know what it is all about, then much has been discussed and printed on the subject and it would be quite wrong of me to pretend to be unbiased or knowledgeable. Suffice to say it is a deeply entrenched issue which has split the country and not on political party lines - it has divided families and friends and made people question long-held views. A lot of the divisions are (according to polling) between  young and old, city folk and rural dwellers, male and female, religious and not and rich and poor. Probably enough said on this one. The vote is on May 25th. Anxious moments as we wait for the day and the count.

Sometimes this is all you get when a duck is taken. Some flat
grass by the fence and a few feathers.
Meanwhile, I am sad to report that our fox came back and quietly took our final female duck. This happened at about 8:30 pm by which time the Guineas were tucked up in bed, so did not raise an alarm shout. Only when I went to shepherd home the ducks, did I spot the loss, and then, when I went searching I found the tell-tale flattened grass and a few feathers by the fence. We now have just 2 adult drakes, so no eggs for the moment, but we have 3 ducklings doing very well in the nursery and 12 eggs in the incubator. We'll be back.

Chinese style pork ribs. 
I have moved the fox trap down to that place on the fence and baited it but we've had that thing 2 months now and all it has ever caught is chickens and cats. I do not hold out much hope. Worse, I was out walking the dogs today and got chatting to old friend of the blog, Mike the Cows, who was fixing a fence down the road. He'd been topping off (mowing) rushes in a field down there and had 'flushed out' a group of 3 adult foxes with his noise and clatter. Also, he knew of a fox earth with a vixen and cubs "just below" a near neighbour's house. 4 adult foxes and some cubs, all within a mile of the place!

I'm amazed we are doing as well as we are. Till next time, then.

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