By Jim Gammons

Rural Ireland in the 1950s was, to borrow L.P. Hartley’s phrase, a foreign country, in the sense that “they do things differently there”. They made hay; they never heard of silage. They shaved and went to Confession on a Saturday night. They took it easy on a Sunday unless the weather was broken, and the hay was down.
My first real job brought me to rural Leitrim in 1953.

I drove a small car around the highways and byways which had rising clouds of dust as it was dry, at least early on in the summer.

Traffic hazards were coming across a cow unexpectedly on a sharp bend, or the panicky squawks of a hen disturbed dust-bathing in a dried out pothole. If there was any impact, feathers flew, and a shocked housewife had to be mollified.

Away from this intrusive stranger and his car, everything else was peace and quiet. The fragrance of newly mown hay floated from the fields. A pheasant squawked in the distance. The cuckoo was gone at that stage, but the corncrakes ‘sang’ way into the night. Lakes twinkled everywhere, and the pike and perch relaxed, as everyone with a rod was making hay.

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