Our ancestors moved in around 1792 and made their way from Dublin to Longford as each lock was built. Sionnach, our family name, and Sionna, his wife, were the first red foxes in the area and by 1817, when the canal was fully operational, they were in every square mile of it. I have my earth on the far bank near Ferns lock. It’s the 17th lock on the canal and looks across to Agher on one side and Enfield on the other. I love the wanderings I can have here, so much to see and do. I live near Berite the badger and Susie his wife and they’re kind and gentle with us all. They know we’re about as they sniff the air and give a happy hello. We have a family of otters who live up the road from us. They live on the Rye river at Collinstown and are regular callers to the royal. Mr. Otter, Bert, has told me that he loves the journey up to us and he has made many new friends along the way. We’ve noticed that the peacock butterfly and the holly blue are back and have settled in well. They dance over the holly and meadowsweet and have welcomed some new butterflies that are settling down around the banks. I heard the teacher from the Gaelscoil telling the children that they’re called marsh fritillary. They can be noisy at times but a look from father fox settles them down. I’ve never felt the need to move inland. There is so much here to keep me happy and occupied. I’ve become great friends with Pavel who came here from Poland and who sits at night fishing. He whistles gently. When he sees us on the far bank, he serenades us with a few words of a love song. His rod is a twelve float that he casts and let’s sit gently in the water. He sometimes throws a bit of bait over the water to me. Tonight, it was a sweetcorn and bread paste. He knows this is one of my favourites and he always laughs when he sees me looking to soak up every last crumb of it. The fish are so lucky. They get this heavenly gift from Pavel and then after he catches them, he lets them go straight back in. Tonight, he caught a carp and it must have been about 4 kgs. He took a photograph of it and I heard him say to Paddy, as he passed by on his evening stroll, that he’ll ‘post it on his page’. I don’t know what that means, but I hope he got the cubs playing behind him. I think I’d love to be on his page and everyone to see how good looking we are here on the canal. I prefer to sleep during the day as I’m really a night animal. Mam always told me to not call myself a ‘night owl’ as she said I was getting ‘the species mixed up’. I know I’m not an owl as I can’t fly but I have to tell you that I have tried, to fly that is, especially when I hear the bats that swish in and out of the canal at night. They go with such speed and sometimes overstep the mark and swoosh straight into the Shaw bridge. I overheard the lead bat telling them to ‘tune their radar in’. Aren’t we lucky to be able to share this lovely place with one another? Here’s home. Beautiful, friendly and welcoming.
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