Born Free Lived Free Virus Free

On arising each morning these days those are the ifrst words to be uttered by me without fail,
whether statement, quesiton, prayer or mantra ifts my mental bill I’m not too sure but that’s how it
is for me. As a senior ciitzen living alone cocooning in lockdown no one hears if I talk to myself so I’m
responsible for ifnding ways of keeping my sanity unitl this terrible scourge is over. Luckily there is a
garden and orchard to tend to, also some spring cleaning has been done and the squeeze box has
been taken out of its case some evenings but a lot of itme has been spent on relfeciton and
memories of my youth.
The river Slaney is a waterway that springs to mind otfen as it lfows through my family’s land in
Kilcarry Co Carlow. My father Pat Kelly had ifshing rights on two small stretches of the river and I
remember him taking me on the carrier of his bike on occasion up the car-road drive to the country
residence of Major Booth at Rainsfort Lodge (I think) near Bunclody as he went to pay the rent
annually, as far as I can remember Mrs Manning Robertson of Hunitngton Castle Clonegal uitlised
the ifshing rights then.
During the summer months we took our cows to ifelds near the river atfer the evening milking and
collected them before the morning milking atfer which they stayed in pastures nearer to the farm
yard in order to facilitate access to drinking water and open shelter sheds for when the gad lfy
decided to attack. This plan of aciton had always been successful through the years unitl one
morning when it was itme to collect the cows for milking and there they were gone! It transpired
that the gadlfy had arrived there ifrst and in their terror to escape this pest they had galloped
through three or four ifelds, broke the fences a small wood and the inch, as well as crossing the
Slaney before resitng in ifelds in another part of the parish.
As the river was in lfood that day it was necessary for my father to round them up on horseback and
try to encourage them to cross the river again with the help of his sheepdog Watch (Watch swam
the river behind the horse). The only other opiton was to embark on a three mile journey by road in
order to get them back from Kildavin in itme for the morning milking and calf feeding.
Another annual event on the Slaney was taking sheep lfocks to be washed before the shearing
season each May, in our locality the safest place for this dangerous operaiton was at
Doyle’s/Carroll’s inch, right opposite Judge T C Kingsmill Moore’s property. My father always asked
my brother and I to help him to keep the sheep together and be ready to block open entrances as
we took our sheep to the river for this washing session as well as keeping ours separated from other
lfocks that might have reached the washing place before we did. While on this journey Pat Kelly
would cut a blackthorn sitck from a hedge with his penknife and whittled away at some moitf or
other on it as he told us yarns of days gone by. He told us that Kingsmill Moore’s used to be Kelly’s
Woollen Factory long ago and that customers could supply their own wool, the machinery was
worked by water power, so we marvelled at the wheel as it turned away sitll.