In the Summer of 1958, on a visit to Ireland, I haunted the two kilometre stretch of country road that ran from Moolum to the village of Kilmacow. It was an adventurous route for a ten year old.
Blackberry bushes were my favourite target as my siblings and I would go armed with one gallon cans to reap the bountiful harvest that grew on each side of the road. The cans would be overflowing on our return.
I travelled along that road with my great aunt Kate in her assen cart to deliver bread and eggs to the neighbours. Leaving early in the morning and returning late in the afternoon.
I tried to steer Blackman the donkey, along that route, riding him bareback, but invariably failed as he was more interested in grazing on the hedgerows at the side of the road. Donkeys can be very stubborn.
Every morning, the farmer up on Moolum Rock, would stop by my great aunt’s house with his horse and cart and give me a ride to the creamery in the village of Kilmacow. There was always a long line of horses and carts awaiting their turn to empty their churns of milk into the creameries containers. I usually stood in line holding the horses bridle, steadying him, while the farmer wandered off to speak with the other farmers.
I would walk down that road to the pump to fill two buckets with water and struggle back trying not to spill the contents.
It was a happy and glorious road to travel for a carefree ten year old.
Fifty years later, in the Summer of 2008, I walked down that same road and nearly died a hundred times from careless drivers. The road, as most country roads in Ireland, are very narrow and have many blind corners and bends. Past practice was for drivers to honk a number of times when they reached a bend in the road to make other users of the road aware of an approaching vehicle. This safety measure is no longer practiced and causes great risk to hikers.
My mother used to walk this road a number of times every day, but became fearful of the inconsiderate drivers and stopped walking this route. The last time she went for a walk along this road she had to throw herself sideways into a ditch to stop being run over. She was eighty. She lay in the ditch with a broken collar bone trying to get to her feet and exit the ditch. Despite her discomfort, she felt embarrassed and kept calling herself an old fool, hoping that no other traveller would pass by and see her predicament.
Two different slices of life, from two different eras. I liked the earlier slice better…..or was that because I was ten years old. Anyway. Thanks for reading. Its been a slice.