…mists and mellow fruitfulness is now upon us. The garden and kitchen garden are starting to bed down for winter and we have the prospect of strimming the wildflowers and grasses in both of our orchards. We’ve had to purchase a Husqvarna Brush Cutter for this little exercise, as the grass trimmers we already have were simply not designed for this type of work – in fact, I nearly burnt out one of them trying! The ground needs to be cleared of last season’s growth and doing so also gives us the chance to plant out more wildflowers for next season. I have borage and ragged robin plants (grown from seed) as well as poppy seeds and other wildflowers of mixed varieties to sow. All the wildflowers are important to attract pollinators (we now have 2 beehives). Last Saturday we had a market at the Commemoration Hall in Lorrha, but honey was in short supply. Concern over the declining bee population continues… The grass grows remarkably well (if only the vegetables would grow as quickly!!), and we’ve also had to purchase a Husqvarna lawn mower. This particular model has a self-drive feature, but if you are not careful you can end up doing a sprint behind it! Great piece of kit.
September was a busy month. Firstly, I was saddened to hear of the death of my vocal coach, Professor Desirée Talbot of the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. She was not only a mentor and friend with a keen sense of humour, but also a leading light in the South African operatic world. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam – may she rest in peace.
My new publisher, Tigh Hattie Press (THP) has released the second edition of One of Our Own – MARTIN O’MEARA VC. This remarkable Irishman came from my local area, went to Australia before the First World War, joined the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in saving the wounded during the fighting around Mouquet Farm in 1916. His life headed towards its close with an ironic twist, considering that he had survived the horrors of the trenches. The book is available through Amazon as an eBook or print-on-demand format. Please check it out. We still have hopes that his VC will visit Lorrha for a single day before it returns home to the West Australian Army Museum in Perth. All of my books thus far will be rendered to the same formats over the coming months.
I have also finished writing my recollections of a career as a schoolteacher, which is now in the proofing stage. I was given several mementos from my class at the end of the year in which I retired. One in particular has a very special place in my affections. It is a keyring, cut from wood, in the shape of an apple. The simple inscription on it reads Mr F, Thank you for helping me grow. What more can you say? So the provisional title of the book is Did I Make A Difference?
Not that we do much travelling – there is more than enough going on at home to keep us busy – but the car was due a service. Our nearest SEAT dealer is located in Tipperary Town, which is an hour and a half’s drive from us, each way. Still, it was a bright sunny day and all went well. On the way home we detoured to a place called Soloheadbeg, which is just a bend in a country lane, near a quarry. On 21st January 1919, two officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary, in the company of two council workers, were escorting a shipment of gelignite destined for the quarry. They were ambushed by a group of Irish Volunteers (Irish Republican Army), the two RIC men were killed and their firearms and the gelignite stolen. This event is regarded as the start of the Irish War of Independence. The spot is quite unremarkable, given its significance in Irish history.
Another sadness this month was the disappearance of Oscar, the cat from next door. He was a farm moggie who had a traumatic kittenhood. Anyway, he adopted us quite early on – probably because we made a fuss of him and – more importantly – fed him. Next door was fine with this arrangement. Anyway, he just vanished. This winter we shall miss his muddy paws on the glass of the garden door as he does his early morning stretching exercises.
And that was September, that was. I hope you are keeping safe and well, as we all do our bit to get the better of the COVID-19 threat.