The Mysterious Eggs
This year the last weekend before Lent brought snow on the mountain. We went walking on Sunday, along the bóthairín, where the rutted mud crunched underfoot, and on the beach, where the wind and the hailstones cut like knives. And when we came back, there on the windowsill was a mysterious box of eggs.
No note, and no indication of who had left them. Just eggs left by a neighbour, which often happens round here. Proper new-laid eggs, grubby and unequal in size, from which a tiny, downy feather may flutter when you open the box.
|The box was a supermarket one, but that's often the way.|
Today is Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The fire is still needed in the evenings, but a bunch of daffodils, carried up from Jack's, fills the house with scent.
Pancakes aren't traditionally eaten in Corca Dhuibhne on Shrove Tuesday. Instead, people cooked a big meal of whatever they had in the house the night before Lent started, in preparation for the six weeks of fasting and abstinence before Easter. But tonight, the pancakes added to the scent of our daffodils, filling the house with the aromas of nutmeg, lemons and frying apples.
When Jack was young, Catholic weddings didn’t take place during Lent, so this was often a popular day for wedding, sometimes with the match being made the previous Sunday. A bride married on Shrove Tuesday had to take care to move all her belongings to her new home by midnight. Otherwise, she had to continue to live with her parents until Easter – even if her husband’s home was only across the road.
Round these parts, there was much mockery of unmarried men. Neighbours would threaten to round them up and send them off to the island of Skellig Mór where, traditionally, Lent began later and marriages could still be made.The oldest bachelor was supposed to captain the boat.
No one remembers boats actually being sent off to the Skellig, though. Instead, after the horseplay, everyone went home to the fire and the huge meal.
We ate our pancakes with lemon and the fried apples, and there was a scatter of nutmeg in the batter mix, which definitely isn't traditional.
The happenstance of a timely gift left by a neighbour definitely is, though.
Dingle And Its Hinterland: People, Places & Heritage is currently available for pre-order from online outlets.
|Publication Date April 18 2017|