April 26 – May 30, 2024

The fairies at Maytime . ... cont’d from previous page

lected the most beautiful. Some people claimed that fairies had power only over unbaptised children. Up to fifty years ago, in rural West Cork at least, babies were always baptised as soon as possible after birth, usually within two or three days. This possibly reflects a belief in changelings, but, most likely, was done because the Catholic Church claimed that an unbaptised person couldn’t enter Heaven. Mothers used to take good care of their babies to prevent the fairies taking them: they blessed them with Holy Water, lit a candle near the cradle, prayed for their safety, hung a cross over the door. It was believed that a holy crucifix or iron thongs placed across the cradle would keep the fairies away. If a child was taken it was believed that he could be recovered by threatening to burn down the fairy fort. An- other method was to tie a skein of black flax thread around the

left hand, with a black-handled knife well gripped in the right. The thread kept one in contact with the human realm, while the power of the black-handled knife thwarted opposing fairy forces. The thread was tied to a briar outside the door of the fairy fort, and as one entered, the thread would unwind until one reached the kitchen, where the child would be found. Placing a set of bagpipes by the cradle was a sure test to discover whether the child was a fairy. No changeling could resist them and soon fairy music spilled out of the house and into the village, thrilling all who heard it. Boiling egg shells was another way of detection. When a mother boiled egg shells in front of the suspected child, the changeling cackled with laughter in an old man’s voice, at the notion of making dinner from egg shells. To get rid of changelings it was recom- mended to force foxglove tea down his throat and wait until

it burned out its intestines. No matter how hard the punishment of the fairy, the original child always returned unharmed. It was said that no luck would come to a family in which there was a changeling as it drained away all the good fortune of the household. There was, however, a positive feature attached to the changeling which was an aptitude for music. As the changeling grew up it often started to play an instrument, usually the fiddle or pipes, with such skill that all who heard the music were entranced. There are stories about young girls who were wanted as brides for a fairy king, so they appeared to droop and fade and die, but, in reality, had passed into the otherworld of the fair- ies. Sometimes young men were taken away by the fairies, espe- cially if they were handsome, good athletes or good hurlers. They may have been needed to help the fairies in a battle or a hurling match. Lovely women

ly shrivelled up and died within the first two or three years. The changeling was mourned and buried, but if its grave was ever disturbed all that was found was a blackened stick or piece of bog-oak. Although fairies jealously guarded their own songs and tunes, they travelled the world to listen to good mortal made music. Despite the fact that fairy abodes are very happy places with beautiful people and pleasant living, nevertheless, anyone who was allowed to re- turn to mortal life gladly did so. In a story about Caoilte of the Fianna, it is said that he entered a fairy palace at Assaroe, near Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal, where he met his own foster brother and asked him how he liked living in the fairy palace. His brother replied: ‘Whether of meat or of raiment no item is wanting to us here, yet I had rather have the life of those who are worse off on earth than the life I live here’. goods available on supermarket shelves. How can we revitalise and rediscover some of these traditions? One theme of this project that is becoming clear is that food waste is linked to a general erosion of connection and com- munity – yet we long for con- nection, and we want to feel part of our community. Maybe food can be the answer! Can you get together and batch cook with friends, do you have someone in your family that you can ask to teach you a recipe, or

in their prime were taken just for an evening to dance with the wild fairy, King Fionnvarra.

Some were kept for seven years. Changelings did not live long in the mortal world. They usual-

ENVIRONMENT : Making a difference

Waste Not, Want Not: Food heritage and pickles T his month the ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ team has been checking in with delicious pickles; we had Kore- an-style ‘fridge-drawer’ pickles, orange peels made into a kind of lime pickle and so many others tion-themed workshops with Caitlin on board, so stay tuned. Find your food roots Last week, in collaboration Houlihan’s bakery used to make Chester cake – a mix of all the leftover loaves bound together again with dried fruit, iced

family, and also the day we had time to prepare for the week. In roasting a joint of beef or lamb we weren’t just thinking about Sunday dinner, we were think- ing about Monday and Tuesday and beyond. Leftovers were not really considered leftovers but preparation and time saving for the week ahead! It’s interesting to think about how many of these ‘leftover’ meals are now made from scratch – or even sold individually packaged as ready meals. By losing these traditions of food preparation the dishes have been discon- nected from the solutions they originally offered. Soup, stew, casseroles, these are all meals that can absorb and transform leftovers – think of all that potential lurking in the back of your fridge! We heard that in Clonakilty,

local partners to see how the project is going: meeting with retailers, hotels, restaurants, schools and community groups ahead of our ‘farm to fork’ gathering. On April 25, food waste champions from across all sectors will have gathered to share plans and ideas to move this food waste reduction into its next phase – action: We want to get as many people as possible in our community reassessing the way they consume food – to avoid waste. The UN released its annual report last month and a staggering 1.3 trillion euros worth of food was binned in 2022 – with associated emis- sions estimated at five times that of the aviation industry – at a time when 800 million people were going hungry. This is no small issue, but this project aims to discover fun, engaging and enriching ways to create meaningful, lasting change by improving our relationship with food – within our community, businesses and households. Join us! On Saturday April 13, we collaborated with Caitlin Ruth, author of ‘Funky’, who hosted a live demonstration and tasting at O’Donovan’s Hotel in Clon- akilty to show us how we could make the most of what we have by pickling. The workshop was buzzing. Caitlin showed us how to see the potential of foods that may have been previously tossed by turning them into

– even learning how to make our own red wine vinegar from the last dregs of wine you might otherwise put down the sink. My favourite of the day might have been the chard stem pickle she made with Turmeric. Thanks to Caitlin, who has given us permission to share it here. Pickled Chard stems (also works well with cauli- flower leaves) Take your washed chard stems, slice as thinly as possible, and push into an appropriately sized sterilised jar. Next, pour white wine vinegar or other white vinegar two-thirds of the way up the jar, then top with water. Holding the chard stems back with a spoon, pour off the liquid into a small saucepan. Add sea salt and sugar to taste – Caitlin recommends double the amount of sugar to salt (so if you use one tsp salt, try two tsp sugar). Add a small spoon of turmeric, a garlic clove or two, some yellow mustard seeds and bring to the boil. Pour the boiling brine over the chard stems in the jar, cover, let cool, and refrigerate for up to a month. (Top tip from Caitlin – If you use cauliflower leaves make sure to slice very thinly and crossways ‘against the grain’ or else it can be a bit stringy) There will be more where that came from as we develop plans for further food waste reduc-

with the new Clonakilty’s Wom- en’s shed, we hosted a mid-day workshop and brainstorming session around ‘Rediscovering Traditions’, exchanging ideas and remembering ways of ‘be- ing’ that have been lost over the years. One thing that came up sever- al times was the family tradition of ‘Roast on Sunday, Shepherd’s pie on Monday’. We spoke about how Shepherd’s pie, along with so many dishes from other cultures have been born out of a desire to minimise food waste – aka necessity (think Arancini balls from risotto or fried rice from leftover). Sunday was the day of rest, the day we had time to cook a big meal for the

and made into something new. Given that last month we were reflecting on bread being one of the most wasted foods in the home, isn’t it wild that we have lost this tradition? There was talk of breadcrumbs, of stuffing, of bread and butter pudding and of other traditional foods that have fallen out of favour in light of all the new packaged

could you teach your grandchild how to make tea brack? I remember vividly the day my grandmother taught me how to make pastry. It was near the end of her life, she was having a rare good day, and for some reason we found ourselves in my mother’s kitchen,

making a pie (no surprise really as I loved her pies). I remember her teaching me how the dough was supposed to look when you had the flour-to-butter ratio right (should look like breadcrumbs) and how soft it was meant to feel when it was ready (a baby’s bottom!). No measurements, just eyes, hands and connection. I would love to hear any stories you might have or recipes that you think need to be passed on. For more information and to connect with this project visit wastenotwantnot

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