The Threshing

ballinglanna 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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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

Dúchas Clonakilty's first lecture for the Autumn promises to be of huge interest to all: Emerging from the Shadow of Tom Crean – The Parish Centre, Clonakilty, Thursday September 28th 8.30pm.

Lecture by Aileen Crean O’Brien & Bill Sheppard

In May 2016, Kerry man Tom Crean, along with Ernest Shackleton and four other crew members, landed the James Caird lifeboat on the rocky isle of South Georgia. The navigation of that small boat, across 1500 km through icy winds and towering seas, is regarded as the greatest ever feat of navigation. They then trekked across the forbidding and inhospitable mountains and glaciers of South Georgia to seek help for the rest of their crew, who were left behind on Elephant Island after their ship, the Endurance, was crushed by the Antarctic ice.

One hundred years later, Crean’s grandaughter, Aileen Crean O’Brien, set off with her sons and partner to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. Join Aileen and Bill to hear of their adventures (and misadventures) on the Southern Ocean and the island of South Georgia.
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7th September, 2017  ·  

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