A few weeks ago I introduced you to Anne Driscoll, an American living in Ireland who loves to share her Irish evolution through her writing and books.
Anne has graciously agreed to send me monthly updates on her shenanigans and adventures which I’m delighted to share with you today.
And so, without further ado, let me hand you over to Anne…..
Cowsitting In Ireland:
It’s exactly three years and eight months since I first arrived in Ireland and in the last month I helped cow-sit eight cows for ten days, met a foal, saw a calf be born and now have five donkey friends who come running whenever they see me coming.
I brought a bucket of feed down to the field where the cows we were caring for graze and discovered, to my horror, that the feed the Irishman had left in the trough the day before was still there. I tried to call him. Several times. I texted him. “I’m worried about the cows. They didn’t eat their feed yesterday. What if they are hurt or lost?”
We had been cowsitting for exactly one day
and already we lost the cows!!!???!?
What is cow protocol in these sorts of circumstances?
Do I put on my wellies and go looking for them?
Ask the neighbors if they’ve seen them?
Call the cow owner and ‘fess up?
I decided to do none of the above and sat in the car hoping they might show up. They didn’t.
I talked to the Irishman. He said they’d be fine. I wasn’t so sure. He said we’d look for them later. I felt a terrible sense of cow guilt.
The next day the Irishman asked our neighbor if he’d seen the missing cows and he said he had. The Irishman asked how far back the land goes and the neighbor said “until the next land.”
Then the Irishman said the cows hadn’t eaten the feed we left for them. Our neighbor said they’d eat when they were hungry enough.
We then went to the field and spied the cows. I started calling them, “Come on cows.” They weren’t budging.
I asked the Irishman, “How do you call cows?”
He said, “Let me try them on the cell. What’s their number?”
The Irishman walked out into the field and got them moving to where their feed was, calling them in some language I don’t understand, but apparently the cows did.
Cow Poop Lessons:
The next day, my daughter Facetimed me during her visit with my mom and sister while I happened to be about to feed the cows. I showed them on Facetime the view of the bay, the trough full of feed and the genuine cow poop everywhere.
My mother said with great authority that they used to burn cow poop for fuel in Ireland and my daughter asked me if that was true.
I didn’t know so I asked the Irishman and he said my mother was right and then offered to send her some.
A Good Friday Pilgrimage to Mamean Mountain:
We went to Clifden and passed a thin white-haired man cutting turf by hand in the bogs using a sleán – Irish for spade – as they have for hundreds of years.
On Good Friday, we took friends to climb Mamean Mountain – thought to be the last place St. Patrick visited – where the priest was leading the stations of the cross.
There were a couple of hundred people who made the hour-long climb to the top while a group of volunteer mountain rescuers sat at the foot of the mount.
The small church at the summit was open and inside was a tiny altar made of Connemara marble with matching Connemara marble candlesticks.
I also found out that a horse in our village had given birth to a foal on Good Friday and that it had been named Jesus Christ.
Easter Reunions And Wise Old Words:
Over the Easter weekend, we went to the local pub for a drink and the fire was going and it was lovely.
There were 10 men lined up at the bar. I only knew one. When we left the Irishman bumped into someone he had worked with in England 40 years ago.
He told the Irishman, “I will never forget what you said….
‘You never have to worry about
getting lost twice in the same place
if you don’t get lost on the first place.’
The Irishman wondered, “Why would he remember that for 40 years?” “He must have thought you were wise beyond your years,” I said.
I made boxty. There is an old Irish rhyme that goes,
“Boxty on the griddle.
Boxty on the pan.
If you can’t make boxty,
you’ll never get a man.”
Maybe that’s been my problem.
In the same day, I saw a story in the Galway paper about Connemara Bog Week a festival celebrating the bogs; I watched a video on Facebook encouraging people to do fundraisers for the Lifeboat Fund by organizing Wellie Walks or a Wear Your Wellies to Work Day; and I witnessed the men coming into the pier bringing in baskets of oysters from their boats.
It’s funny how when you ask people here how they are, they don’t say good. They say not too bad. As if saying you’re good is bragging or having notions.
Spring is a harbinger of new beginnings. And also the gateway for the arrival of lambs, foals, calves and kids. In my time here, I have gotten to know much more livestock than I ever imagined I would.
Now in addition to stacking turf or starting a fire in the range, my burgeoning skill set includes befriending donkeys and feeding cows. Not exactly resume builders but important and enjoyable nonetheless.
Many thanks to Anne for sharing your Irish tales with us here. I’m already looking forward to next month’s installment in her Irish adventures.
If you enjoyed this blog post, check out Anne Driscoll’s mini-memoir series, beginning with Irish You Were Here: My Year of Matchmaking Festivals, Fairy Forts and Mugging My Mugger in Ireland.
Irish You Were Here is for both the armchair traveler and active adventurer, the dreamers and the daredevils, the writers, poets and storytellers, and all the activists out there lead by their passions.
This is an Ireland you won’t read about in tour guides and it’s one you won’t soon forget. It’s for everyone who is Irish and for anyone who wished they were.
You can find Irish You Were Here at Amazon Kindle here.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)