48. Nannie’s Fun Facts! (2)

J.M.J.

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          Hello to you!  Nannie here!  I am lovin’ that Finney gives me some space to have a talk with you!  If you remember, last week we spoke of the prayer of Grandmother Tess in the movie, “The Secret of Roan Inish,” and that it was inspired by Peig Sayers who spent most of her life on the Great Blasket Island.  Now…Finney tells us that the prayin’ words, that his Family says, go along these lines…

We eat together and thank God,

For our home on this grand old sod!

We thank Him for our food and drink…

And for each other and we think

Of all that we are grateful for…

And, for our place in Ireland’s lore!

     These words were inspired for me, by a prayer custom my Dad (1904-1995), God rest him, brought to our Family life.  When Dad was growing up in Cobh, in County Cork, in the south of Ireland, he learned prayin’ words that (in Irish, so I am not really sure how to spell what it was I think he taught us all to say — I never saw it in writing!) had four lines.  The first line asked for protection from having a hunger or thirst “on us.”  The next three lines all deal with spiritual protection (according to my limited Irish translational skills!)…from evil, then from the evil within ourselves, and then from the fires of hell.  Interesting it was only the first prayerful line that addressed physical needs.  The other 75% was totally spiritual, and, to me, framed in a deep understanding of the need for and dependence on God for protection from sin…very much including our own sinful natures…no pointing fingers there!

     For our Finney, protecting the gold takes up a lot of his time!  Many people are familiar with the story of the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.  Once again, using the reference of Bairbre McCarthy’s Irish Leprechaun Stories, she tells us that “the leprechaun is the keeper of the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.”  So, you can be sure our Finney is pretty hungry and tired when his day’s work is done…as he so often reminds us!

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     In regard to the story-poems, “Cookin’!” and “Bakin’!”, we see that seaweed, apples, berries, honey, and fresh water are staples for Leprechaun Families!

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Golden Honey!
Golden Honey!

     I find that http://www.libraryireland.com is a wonderful resource for Irish information of all kinds, especially from the older writings.  At this website, we find A Smaller Social History of Ancient Ireland, written by Patrick W. Joyce in 1906.  Dr. Joyce tells us, “”The sea-plant called in Irish duilesc, and in English dillesk, dulse, dulsk, or dilse, growing on sea rocks, was formerly much used as an article of food, that is, as an accompaniment…Dillesk is still used; and you may see it in Dublin hawked about in baskets by women: it is dry, and people eat it in small quantities raw, like salad…The apple (ubhall, pronounced ooal) appears to have been as much cultivated and use in old time as at the present.  Apples, when gathered, were hoarded up to preserve them as long as possible:  they were generally uncooked.”

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Young girl with basket on her back for gathering seaweed.
Young girl with basket on her back for gathering seaweed.  This is a picture that has been in my Family for many years!

Of course, we always have stories about the monks, and, the “libraryireland” website gives us information from An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack… “The rule of St. Alban says: “When they [the monks] sit down at table, let them be brought [served] beets or roots, washed with water, in clean baskets, also apples, beer, and honey from the hive.”

     This website also tells us from Ireland’s Welcome to the Stranger, written in 1847 by A. Nicholson, that “a supper of comfort” had “fresh apples upon the table.”

     At Irishamerica.com, in “Sláinte!  Ireland: It’s the Berries!” by Edythe Preet (Columnist), summer months in Ireland are described as being all about wild strawberry and raspberry patches, blueberries “found growing on heather-covered mountainsides,” with “countless hedgerows along country roads…producing tons of deep purple blackberries!”  Also described is blackberry mousse as “an elegant dessert,” and, blackberry sauce which “can be sweet or savory to complement ice cream and custards, or roast fowl and game.  Combined with apples, blackberries make one of Ireland’s most popular desserts, a rich pastry tart.”  We are also given a hint as to how Finney’s Mum may do her bakin’ and cookin’…”In years past, Irish cooks baked in the all-purpose cast iron black pots that sat atop smoldering turf fires and only diligent watching and turning kept their pies from becoming singed from the fierce heat of the glowing coals.”  And, lastly, choosing only one more culinary thought presented by Edythe, we learn, “At the height of summer when Ireland strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries are all in season at once, these brilliantly hued fruits are frequently combined to make Summer Pudding, one of the world’s most strikingly beautiful and delicious desserts.”

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     No wonder Finney’s Mum does such great work in her “kitchen!”

     Just a couple more fun facts (hope you don’t say you need a nap, like Finney does!)                There is a place in Co. Cork , not too far from Cobh, where my Dad (me Dad!) was born and raised, and Blarney (only down the road a bit), called Ballyhooly.  It is west of Lismore (yes, the same name as the beautiful Waterford crystal pattern!), and it is on road N72 heading west toward Mallow.  It is located in what is called the valley of the Blackwater, according to Dr. Joyce [as told by Rev. J. F. Lynch (www.corkpastandpresent.ie)], who tells us it was renowned for its apples and cider, and who explains Ballyhooly  as town of the apple-ford, being from Irish Baile atha ubhla, and says that the place is named Atha-ubhla, or ford of the apples, in Book of Lismore [medieval manuscript — one of “The Ancient Books of Ireland – 1480, (Michael Slavin)].

     In Note From Nannie with Finney’s “Bakin’!” story, it was mentioned that “Apples have been grown in Ireland for at least 3,000 years…and that…St. Patrick is said to have planted a number of apple trees in Ireland, including one…close to where Armagh is now situated.  Early monastic records tell us that the monks were given apples with their meals, specially at festival time.” (Georgina Campbell’s Ireland – http://www.ireland-guide.com)  As to why Armagh might be significant, we learn at http://www.discoverireland.com, that “In 445, Patrick established the Seat of Armagh as the centre of Christian learning in Ireland.  A monastery church and an archbishop’s house were built here.  This was probably another challenging gesture to the druidic order at Navan Fort.  The ancient Ulster capital, this had been the royal seat of the Kings of Ulster.  By building his most important church close to the symbol of pagan royalty, Armagh became the most important town in Ireland.  The only clergy entitled to spread the Christian faith were taught in the abbey in Armagh.”

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The places we have mentioned are marked on this map of Ireland.
The places we have mentioned are marked on this map of Ireland.

 

     Well, phew…as Finney would say…all that yakkin’ has made me so tired and hungry!

I am so happy you stopped by to visit Finney and me!  Thank you!

As Finney would say…

I, Finney, think it’s time for bed!

I’m going to lay down my head,

And hope to have sweet dreams tonight,

And sleep peacefully in Grace-light.

I hope the same for you this night…

And safely wake in morning light!

I am so glad we talked today!

God bless you is what I do say!

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47. Bakin’!

J.M.J.

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Hello, my Friend!  Hello today!

I hope you are in a good way!

No matter rain, no matter shine,

I always hope your day is fine!

We last talked of me Mum as cook,

And dryin’ seaweed on a hook…

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‘Tis now we’ll talk of her sweet treats;

We’ll talk about her bakin’ feats!

A grand something Mum loves to make

Is her amazin’ apple bake!

She’ll ask me to go out to see

If our fine and grand apple tree

Has dropped some apples we can use…

Some apples, “Tree”, won’t mind to lose!

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Sometimes it’s fun to shake them free.

This, sometimes, is okay with Tree.

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Sometimes I have help from Pronshi;

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And sometimes Pronshi and Dáithí!

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And when Mum makes this dee-lish dish…

Could tempt someone to a fourth wish!*

And in the air must be sweet smell,

‘Cause though no one did, to him, tell,

Dear Uncle Obie finds his way

To visit our home on this day,

When Mum does make her apple bake,

He is ready, for some, to take!

Our dear Uncle Obie!
         Our dear Uncle Obie!

But he helps, too, to do the work,

In order that he’ll have the perk

Of eating well from Mum’s fine bake…

She’ll surely give him some to take!

I’ll gather, then, the apples that

Will easily fit inside my hat!

But, wait! That’s just when they’re still green…

When apples are smaller, I mean!

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But they will grow…get big and red!

Just like the hair I’ve on my head!

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And if, too big, the apples are,

I’ll pile them somewhere near, not far,

And then I’ll bring them, one by one,

For Mum…for bakin’…till she’s done!

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Mum’s always glad to see I’ve some,

To give to her, when home I come!

And then, the apples she will take

To make that fine, grand apple bake!

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She’ll lightly pour some honey…sweet…

Right on the apples for this treat!

‘Tis rich and mellow…tasty-fine…

It’s like the sun with golden shine!

Golden Honey!
                  Golden Honey!

And then she’ll sprinkle mystery flakes…

Of course, on top, these flakes she shakes!

By now, you’ve  guessed Mum shakes the flakes

That are from seaweed plants she breaks,

So she can make them into flakes

That, on some food, she always shakes!

But not for everything she makes…

Sometimes the seaweed flakes, she takes!

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By now, we all must have the aches,

From speakin’ of those shakin’ flakes…:)

Now, back to that sweet apple dish,

That Mum will bake that’s so dee-lish!

A nice fine helping goes down well,

And we don’t mind, of it, to tell!

We also love Mum’s yummy tarts…

To bake them Mum will use her smarts!

Some different berries Mum will use,

The best she finds is what she’ll choose!

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Some red…some blue…Me Mum will mix….

She’s really got some bakin’ tricks!

She’ll put some honey in the pot…

She’ll put enough….just not a lot!

Some nice brook water, then she’ll add…

When Mum makes this, we’re all so glad!

She’ll mix the berries, tart and sweet…

Warmed by the fire, for this treat.

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Warm and melty…this berry bake…

Sweet and tasty, I sure will take

What Mum does give me, maybe more…

You know I am so thankful for!

Me Mum and Dad…they always try

To do good things as days  go by!

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I am a happy Leprechaun!

And, in a flash, I will be gone,

But not until I’ve had my treat…

Mum’s apple dish or berries —  sweet!

I’m happy you stopped by today!

To read together, in this way!

We’ve  spent some time in quiet fun…

To think about when day is done!

So long for now, but wait and see,

You never know where I might be!

I’m sort of close and sort of far,

In some ways like an evening star…

Sometimes you see it bright and clear,

But other times it seems not near!

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But one thing you can know will be,

I may be near…You just don’t see!

I will watch out for you in ways,

That help keep you safe, for all days!

I hope that we are always Friends…

Enjoying blessings that God sends.

To laugh and play when work is done…

That’s my idea of grand great fun!

I hope your day is peaceful-fine,

With air that’s soft with Heaven’s shine…

And gives to you at least one breeze,

To come your way, your cares, to ease…

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I Finney, Leprechaun, do say.

God bless you each and every day!

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Note From Nannie!

“Apples have been grown in Ireland for at least 3,000 years.  Indeed, St. Patrick is said to have planted a number of apple trees in Ireland, including one…close to where Armagh is now situated.  Early monastic records tell us that the monks were given apples with their meals, specially at festival time.” (Georgina Campbell’s Ireland – http://www.ireland-guide.com)

*A fun story associated with Leprechauns is the granting of three wishes, with the hope of tricking a person into making a fourth wish which would cause the forfeit of the three legitimate wishes!  The movie, Darby O’Gill and the Little People has a very funny account of just such a situation…King Brian of the Leprechauns felt he was very clever in this regard!  🙂

If you go to the footnote link, you will find a question about this story for younger readers!

God bless you and thank you for stopping by to visit Finney and me!