Woke up this morning 8.00 a.m.Early for me but late for some.Mac Kenna ,Iaino ,Ollie and the crew were at it for two hours already.
The burning question.Was it raining.It was.Thursday last the crew met.The weather was bad all week.Like the previous six months.Worst weather ever.Three fine days had flattered to deceive. Livestock were hungry and hay was being imported for the first time ever.The land was sopping.Would the car parking fields support the traffic or would it be a swamp.The owners gave it their blessing .Show on and feck the begrudgers.And the elements.
It rained Saturday and it was raining now on Sunday.The crew could do no more.All in the laps of the Gods.
I lay down and listened with eyes closed.Less bustle than previous years.Jennies starting up and clanking of metal against metal as pens for animals were fashioned from steel gates ,but muted I thought compared to previous years.Some bustle but muted.Not near as much traffic.But a buzz o.k.
Surely the weather would improve.Ninish and a drizzle.
Ate the fry and did a recce.Mass at nine thirty instead of eleven. Fianna Fail are setting up outside the Church for the annual collection.They are not short of neck.Then again the present crew are worse if anything as the mass exodus from this unfortunate country accelerates.Only one independent political seen all day.The main parties know the score and keep away.They are not wanted and they know it.
I don't know how F.F,did but imagine not too well.Literally nobody has a spare bob.Money is as scarce as hen's teeth.
Talking of which the outsider of our house is where the sellers of foul are stalled.Chickens,hens geese ,ducks ,whatever you are having yourself.But nowhere nearly as prolific as in former years.My friend Mark tells me that shifting birds (the feathered variety) is a hard task and he is trying to shift a dog this year.I don't know if he did.Wouldn't be for the want of trying.And no, now is not the time nor the place for comparison with my own efforts in matters of the heart in my youth.The wife would kill me.I am not that brave.
Dessie Coffey is boiling the spuds up on turf fires to make the col cannon.I counted a dozen half hundred bags of spuds.Has his work cut out.And I spot a sign on a donkey's cart telling the Sheik to stuff his oil that we have our turf.We are bog men here.The carbon footprint that our few sods will leave wouldn't harm a mouse.Didn't stop the scrooges in the Government from taxing it though.And I see they have threatened tenants that they will deduct property tax from their wages if they don't rat on the landlords.And will delay repaying the money back to them.Guilty 'till proved innocent.These people have no scruples.
Decent people wouldn't bend so low to pick so little when dirt is so plentiful.Not those that govern us plainly.
Outside the Hall along the river Clady the farriers and the big horses congregate.I spot the biggest bellows I have ever seen.It was sourced in Tara ,made I guess over a century ago and the proud blacksmith is an East European.He is n making a decorative iron rail on an anvil mounted on a square log buttressed with bands of steel.There is a smattering of fine equines,from the Budweiser lads to the best of piebalds.
Later I would hear it announced that the shoeing of the two legged horse would be at 3.00 p.m.I saw no two legged horse and hared back to see what was it all about.What was meant was that two blacksmiths would concurrently shoe two legs of a four legged horse .
In the Hall the I.C.A.are selling tay and suchlike.In the GAA Hall the Camogie ladies do like wise.
There is no charge in the latter instance ,just an expectation that a donation towards breast cancer research will be made in a bucket thus marked.
This is seemingly a continuation of the honouring of the late Maggie Morgan a Camogie Club member who recently succumbed to this scourge and a continuation of the field activities on this theme the previous Saturday.As the founder and president of the Club I am immensely proud of this generosity by our members ,especially our long standing ones who are now coming to the fore,and in awe of the modesty of Club Chairman Tom Byrne who sourced and presented a Memorial Cup in her honour the previous Saturday.Well done on this front and there is no need to be so secretive and modest about such munificence.It is indeed a fine and praiseworthy gesture and deserves to be sung from the heights.
But such modesty is the hallmark of our community as the same Tom is scurrying too and fro in the finest machine we have dropping gates and barriers here and there ,leaving pallets for stages to be fashioned and being generally useful,all under the guidance and benevolent supervision of Head Honchos Sean , Iano and Ollie.
Mary Stanley is selling the most tasteful tarts and home baked ditties you can imagine as Sonny limbers up for the set dancing.
Gus and Olive and Tommy and the Feeney ,Martin and Callaghan families are displaying sheep ,cattle .asses and drays and keeping their feelings over the death of Dinny under control,God help them.
I eye up a jackass belonging to Gus and Ollie.
There is method in my madness.I have a mare ass called Tilly .She is bursting with good health and running with our suckler cows.Recently I went down to check on a cow I was expecting to calve at 4.00 in the morning.The cow was calved all right but no sign of the calf.I explored further.Along the ditch stood Tilly with the calf at her bag encouraging the calf to suckle her teats.The cows was distressed but afraid.I intervened and sundered this unnatural alliance,restoring calf to cow.The calf sucked.I turned to go but Tilly claimed possession again kicking the cow.I had forgotten my walking stick and got stuck in the mud and got help.We separated ass from cow.
Were Tilly a woman ,she would have not known man and was clearly broody in the extreme.I determined then to fix her,as you might put it,at the first opportunity.I needed a jackass.Gus wasn't selling but another gentleman was.I purchased.His name is Obama as he was born on the day that Barrack was inaugurated.He has sired two foals already. He is smaller than Tilly but as they say ,a small jockey do have a big whip.
I was since told that the jackass is the symbol of the Democrats and an elephant of the Republicans so Obama is doubly appropriate if this is true.
Anyhow they went on honeymoon last evening and are getting on the best.Tilly seems to be an ardent feminist and I have renamed her Justine Martina Vincent as a tribute to three journalists of some fame who think little if anything of the rights of the unborn vis a vis the mother.Hopefully this won't be the first ass to seek an abortion if she allows Obama to tickle her fancy and if she keeps.There will be great fun naming her foal.No shortage of candidates to choose names from in the political and journalistic spheres should Obama fix Justine Martina Vincent.
The GAA boys are selling bric a brac and running a raffle and there are feck all stalls in the grounds.Nothing on the pitch which is water logged.Proper order.A young fella from the place of the first written rules of hurling is selling hurleys .Prices are keen.I'd say he'd do well.
Our Mags sets up a stall in our gateway.She has written a book for children and illustrated it herself.It is well presented.She has put together a number of knacky items in frames of an Arty slant.I hope she does well .She deserves to as indeed do all the stall holders who are trying might and main to beat this recession.
This is the first year that no butchers lambs are there for sale.Has nobody got suitable lambs hereabouts.Seemingly not.The weather again perhaps.
Mainin 93 years young, is churning butter in a mini churn from pasteurised milk.Brendan is helping her .His wife was very good to me when I was in Navan Hospital.Mainin is of sound memory.I need information from her on events a century ago.She has it. We don't talk nearly enough to our elders.I recently heard it surmised that Collier the Highway man of yesterday was from Bellewstown ,Robinstown.Was he ?A century ago it was known as the town of the high collars.
There was a Battle in Curraghtown during the Civil War.Two men died.The Free Stater died in the house of Smyths of Curraghtown ,the same Smyths who are in partnership with Harrington in the Auctioneering business in Navan.And a neighbour of the Smyths in time gone bye,after defying his two sisters in announcing his engagement reckoned without feminine disapproval and vengeance.They castrated him when he fell asleep.The weaker sex me hole.
I forget the names but a bursary exists to this day to help out newly weds from a trust set up by this unintentional eunuch..Can you just imagine.
He should have practised as advised by the old adage"Love many ,Trust few,Always paddle your own canoe."
At the front of the Church the settled travellers from Navan display their wares.They have resurrected the trade of making the old horse drawn caravans and two are on display and a tin smith displays his wares.A basket weaver weaves his baskets sitting in an edifice like a monk's cell he has fashioned from reeds.Mickey displays his vintage Model 4 Ford .Beside him a vendor of all things equine displays a tub trap in immaculate condition.A few short years ago it would be gone in the blink of an eye.Now even the horsey set seem to be feeling the pinch.Did it sell ?I don't know.
And beside them again are Alison and Anita,two of the finest,who transmogrify the wool of Jacob sheep into cloth via the age old method of spinning wheel and loom,all hand or foot operated.These items are made in Holland.No one in Ireland is making them.Enterprise Ireland please note.
The names of the parts are fascinating.We have bobbins,whorls,flyers,feet treadles,heddles and shuttles,both rigid and flying.Later these ladies had to move to the porch of the Church and abandon their canvas shelter as they were drowned in the downpour.
Announcement."Paddy Keally and Professor Paddy Wall will officially open the Fair this afternoon."
Our Paddy is ninety years young and the definitive local historian.His son John is following in his footsteps and is putting the final touches to a book on Dundery G.A.A. Club ,a job of work in being for some time because of the loss of the century old minute book of the Club.He has interviewed all the key people in the Club,including myself and our history is in his hands.Professor Paddy was a close friend of Dinny Feeney and gave a eulogy at his funeral which displayed the closeness of their friendship and his shock at his tragic death.
Dinny's father Tom is in private conversation with Mairtin Melett..Dinny died tragically,Mairtin's son in a traffic accident.Mairtin found Dinny.These men suffered un natural trauma.God help them.
As the morning Angelus tolls there are few punters around.The maors are stewarding the maors and any stallholder who steps out of line is lit upon .Too many stewards too little to do.
I nod to Mick Mingue and Iiam O Farrell of the GAA Club.These close buddies are scoping the horizons for punters ,worried perhaps that if they don't materialise the sponsorship of the Club will be affected.They could be spotters for a hit man waiting to finger the as yet absent target.
The River Rescue people pull up in their motorised column and their troops disembark .
The bands start up and the show is on the road.The singer asks the Almighty to turn off the tap.
I seek shelter in my home.All thirteen grandchildren are there with their parents.Aisling,Cormack,Ciaran,Niamh,Tom,Sarah,Kate,Ciara ,Senan,Padraic,Emily ,Liam and Chloe are present and correct.Liam is in period dress,with a country cap on his 7 month old head and would go on to win a prize in the bonny baby contest.Our special child Ciaran is overwhelmed by the noise.Myaha and Ellie join them.
I grab some shut eye.
An hour later I awake.My good friend Breeda Mc Kenna drops in for a cuppa.We chew the cud.A Camogie and Farmers Mart fanatic,she is a breath of fresh air to converse with.We share a hatred of the ever enveloping and smothering bureaucracy increasingly paralysing Ireland.We are not alone.
At three I venture with the man bag and a few bob into Geraghty's field.The Country Band is in full flight."Sweet Caroline"is belting out.And the chorus of the fiddler who took on the Devil has the toes tapping.There is a crowd.They are sopping but hey you only get wet the once and once saturated don't get any wetter.
The set dancers are at it in Geraghty's hay shed.Clever divils are under shelter.Place is packed as they give it diddy to the tunes of a deadly box man,whose music has the toes of even the most cynical tapping the beat .There are rows of small straw bales lined up for people to rest on and Henry and Carmel are wathcing them closely to stop distressed traders from swiping them to place atop the mud in front of their stalls.
The main "gateway" through the field is a swamp kept navigable by scattered scraws of straw.Food stalls and toy stalls galore and whirly gigs of all sorts and description.all there but no where as many as last year,never mind in the inaugural years before the bubbles burst. You have to admire the determination of the punters as they have a go on the attractions at two Euro a go.But then they have good rain gear,which the recession has made affordable.
Only one stall there selling tools and such like.I buy a chain for the tractor and the stallholder can easily afford the fifteen minutes haggling time the sale takes.It is a sign of the times that the numbers selling these items have almost vanished. And no sigh of the pickpockets either.They are the new wealthy
It lashes down and the Scout's tent advertises shelter and food.I am drowned and return home for shelter.
The crowd swells to decent proportions and the day spins out.Most locals turn out but some,especially those with small kids took off elsewhere as they hadn't the wherewithal to afford even the reasonable prices charged for entertainment.
The six o clock Angelus tolls and the tired livestock and punters head for the hills.At 6.15 on the button the sun peeks through for the first time.I kid you not.
At 7.00 the Black Crow does flag man for a tractor collecting gates and barriers and the clean up begins.Those with any go left in them head for a pint or to Trim for the official opening of the Pitch where Meath face Louth in a challenge.
The Pubs are the silver lining in these clouds.The determination of the Government to close them is twarthed for the time being.
I join the lads for a few sociables later.Current and sole holder of the Timmy Kennedy Cup for football excellence,T.J.Garry drops in for a jar and a chat.He came home from Australia out of the blue to surprise his Ma,Momica for her fiftieth birthday a week ago.He is in horses order and as mad about football as always.A nice guy he returns there this week to meet his brothers ,cousins and friends living and working there,including Tomas,the son of Mairtin earlier mentioned .
We badly miss the hundreds of economic emigrants from this Parish in Australia and America and all over the world who we missed so much today as we do every day. We pray that the gob shites who got us here and keep us down get their just deserts,.The sooner the better.
Given the weather and the economic climate the Fair Committee did the very best they could.Fair dues.