The Threshing

Posted on: 6th October, 2014

Category: Arts & Entertainment

Contributor: West Cork People

Well-known West Cork writer and historian Diarmuid Kingston is the author of the widely acclaimed book ‘Beleaguered, A History of the RIC in the War of Independence’, the first edition of which has been sold out. He also writes poetry and some of his poems such as ‘The Gathering’ have been published in places as far apart as the US and Australia. He hopes to publish his first composition of poetry entitled ‘Poetry, Prose and Verse’ before the end of 2014. He holds an M.A (Hons) in Local History from UCC.

Diarmuid Kingston

Diarmuid Kingston

This reflective verse is a true account of my first time being on a thresher at twelve years of age, in the late fifties. It was owned by brothers Con and Patsy Coakley from Ballinglanna, Ring, Clonakilty.

‘Keep those sheaves coming’ – his voice carrying above the whirring whine of the speeding drum as he loosened the sheaves and plunged them head first into the narrow nerving chasm where golden grains were flailed clean segregated from chaff and straw.

Con – the feeder man – in command of the eight foot high floor of the Ransomes forty eight inch mill,  his status affirmed by his central position in the box behind the drum.

An uncut sheaf disappears down into the spinning abyss – a loud bark followed by a groan, as the mill struggles to ingest the intrusion, then a low-pitched receding moan,  as it slows, slowly, agonisingly, to a stop.

The long driving belt from the Fordson Major lies curled up like a limp snake on the grass, cast off its driving pulley by the shock of impact.

‘What happened, what’s wrong’,  the question asked as if they didn’t know and they glad of the respite for a few minutes. ‘Ah, the belt is off, the young lad let down a whole sheaf ’. Time for a mug or glass  from the keg, for the pioneer, a mineral or red lemonade.

‘Tis  mighty  gear altogether’, the neighbour said, ‘twill make short work of the haggard, if we can do without stops, we should be through before the dark’.

Men in open-necked shirts with rolled-up sleeves grasping long-handled two pronged pikes stand silhouetted, picturesquely framed against the azure sky of the crisp September morning. Round towered stacks of oats and barley stand sentry-like at each side of the threshing mill awaiting denouement.

Sheaves piked forward with pin-point accuracy onto the floor of the thresher. Each sheaf correctly turned, the heads of grain facing forward. ‘Neallie  is the most important man in the haggard’, said my father, ‘he will keep going all day long at that same pace’.

The steady stroke, a half turn and the lift, a flick of the wrists, the sheaf flies off the shiny prongs like a stone from a catapult, landing  on the boards at the sheaf-cutters outside hand. A move replicated  this day, many days, thousands of times over. This man could swop his pike for a pair of oars or a camán any other day.

I was told get up on the thresher when the usual sheaf cutter had to go to a relatives funeral. ‘That knife you have there would not cut butter, here, try this one, it would slice the devil’. The difference apparent straight away, no need for pressure on  the handle, just a light touch to sever the sisal.

The whole sheaf escapade  now receding into the hazy autumn evening. Dusk creeping in allayed to tiredness, then a sharp nick and a spurt of blood. ‘Show me that’,  says he, with a concern unfeigned, ‘ah, the blood makes it look a lot worse than it is, we are nearly finished anyway, you can get the dog to lick it’.

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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
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