Category Archives: City Girl

Buona Domenica

It’s been one of those weeks in Hearthill, everyone from the tetchy toddler, sick older brother, cranky mommy and patient farmer need a dose of tender loving care.  And so, administrating the dose, I refer as always back to the Italians in praise of all things bright and beautiful. They do it all so well; abundance, style, living, delight.  As an Italophile I try to bring a touch of La Dolce Vita into our home as often as I can moreso to remedy any lack of lustre that the Spring might impose. Just for today, Indulge me……

The Italians take the ordinary and translate it into the exquisite on a daily basis but more so on La Domenica, Sunday. It starts on Friday evening, down the little sidestreets, at the clink of the espresso cup on saucer after the obligatory fix of caffeine coming home from work, on collection of pastries for weekend treats, you begin to hear the echo of ‘Buona Domenica’ in big cities and small villages alike throughout Italy. ‘Buona Domenica’, ‘Have a Wonderful Sunday’ and even though it’s Friday, that Sunday moment is brought forward to signal the beginning of something special at the end of a week’s hard work.

Here, in Hearthill, Sunday is the day when the wellies are abandoned, fresh coffee is brewed, hot French toast is placed alongside the Sunday newspapers. There is normally a walk on a local beach, a leisurely chat with neighbours, delayed milking. It is a day for homemade pasta, fresh herbs, bambini covered in tomato ragu, leisurely dinner time. As with all good things alas, the moment when the milk machine is fixed onto the udder arrives and the familiar thrup, thrup, thrup of the milk machine comes echoing from the parlour signaling the end of a lovely Sunday and the beginning of a new week of work on the farm.

Buona Domenica….

Mother’s Day

The first day I realized I could do this mothering bit was on Mother’s day, 2009. Philip was six weeks old. I had him dressed up in his finery, placed him in his red pram and ventured the Listowel Farmer’s Market which has since become a weekly treat for young Brosnan boys.  First it was Philip, now Daniel and I wonder who will be next to join our merry jaunt?

On that Mother’s day, some five years ago, I didn’t want conversation; it was a test. Could I get him out in the world and keep him safe? Trepidation. I was weak. If someone looked in the pram, I held my breathe for their judgment. Was he tiny? Cold? Please, just say handsome. I was missing my own mother acutely having just moved to the countryside and therefore felt very uncertain as I took tiny steps into this unknown world of motherhood practically blindfolded. So after hearing some praise, I bought some daffodils to place on my pram. A picture of peace, daffodils to remember the day.

I decided Philip might like to treat me for Mother’s day so we went to the Listowel Arms Hotel. Looking for reassurance, I asked the lady at reception if I could feed him. As only another mother who spots a nervous first timer can, she leads me to an inviting foyer with black and white chequered tiles and dainty tea setting. I feed my handsome little boy and tuck him under my arm lovingly while I finish my first cup of ‘civilized’ coffee since giving birth.  Philip stares up at me in awe while we share a peaceful moment in the warm foyer.

It was a little step for woman and baby but a giant step for this first time mother. The ladies in the Arms know us now and I have it timed. These days, I waddle to the counter with young Daniel, order a coffee, some scones and half a glass of milk (so as not to spill!). The natives smile at my jam-smeared son’s face and we flick through the pages of his latest ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ comic. I know I need to finish my coffee by the last story.  I do so in order to maintain some semblance of civilization in this busy mothering life.

The boys, as gentlemen in training(!), somehow know that this is a big deal to their quaint mother and oblige more often than not to humour me for the quarter of an hour it takes to have that coffee before running wildly, as is right, back into their world.  Somehow along the way, my young trainees have guided me, though not always gently, along this mothering route and I smile at the memory of the terrified young mother who had just discovered the delight of a stolen moment of calm with a young son.

Happy Mother’s Day to you who are, loves or remembers a beloved mother.

My First Trip to Hearthill

When first invited to visit Hearthill, I saw it in it’s worst light. It was one of those drab and dark days that only us Irish know how to do so well. So, weather wise, I was under no illusions. It was bleak and it looked lonely. What’s more, farming smells are even more pungent in bad weather and the dampness added little to my farmer’s efforts to coax me out of my comfortable city existence.

By this stage, however, I knew that I was going to spend my life with my lovely farmer. He had, after all told me at the end of our first date that he would think of me while milking the cows.   I’ve realised since then that a dairy farmer couldn’t pay a girl a higher accolade. Dairy time equals thinking time.

On that faithful day, some ten years ago, I stood on the roadside of the farm and nodded, I might have uttered a ‘very nice’ not wanting to commit but knowing, as he did, that this was a deal breaker.  The pessimist and city girl in me wanted to run back to my car and get back to ‘civilisation’ as fast as the wheels would carry me but the optimist and country girl in me decided to roll up her sleeves and imagine how our life would be.  Thinking ‘right, how will I make the most of it, how will I design a life that works for us?’

Eventually, when the question arose, I chose my farmer. It didn’t take long for Hearthill to become home, it has been my consistent friend even on the days when I’ve felt worn by the challenge of this completely new life.  It has played its’ part in helping me to make the best of the everyday, in gloomy days as well as glorious.

A Quick Run to the Village…

The labour ward is filling up, with two cows currently occupying the stalls, it’s a busy day in Hearthill. Our Chief Gynocologist came in to grab forty winks (long night in the labour ward too) and I decided to run to the village for supplies. Here is what I love most about the village.

  1. I get the local gossip. I have little or no interest generally in gossip but other peoples’s fortune/misfortune is currency in rural Ireland! (I’m sure there will be more of that anon – stay tuned).
  2. People in the village love my children too. They know where Philip got his name and knew the Philip that came before him. They’re interested in how they’re growing and it feels somehow like they have a vested interest in my boys.  In the words of Hilary Clinton, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
  3. I grew up in the city and didn’t know many people. Here, I’m the Corkwoman. A quick trip to the village means a guarenteed chat for this naturally chatty girl.  My escape means I get to chat to other adults(!) about any subject under the sun, once we’ve dispensed with the obligatory weather talk that is.
  4. I feel part of a community, that I am among friends and know where there is a network of  support nearby should the need arise.

People often ask me ‘How do you like it around these parts?’ While there is much that I miss of my life as a city girl and there are the days when living in a rural community is trying,  honestly, I can often reply; ‘I like it very much.’

Back in Hearthill, our farmer, despite being pounced upon by two small boys during my absense, needs awakening.  He’s back out into this lovely March day to care for the two cows bellowing in the haggard. Another fine Spring day.