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14 Aug 2022

Trip Through Time: Gathering mushrooms in Dundalk

Looking back at Dundalk's past, with former Democrat editor Peter Kavanagh

Trip Through Time: Gathering mushrooms in Dundalk

The present spell of fine weather has reminded me that one of the greatest pleasures of my school holidays was to go picking blackberries from the hedges in the green fields behind my home which are now covered by housing estates.

It is not yet the full 'Blackberry Season' but it cannot be far off and, by the look of the brambles I see, this season should be one of the finest for such crops for many a year.

Children of the present generation may not be much interested in picking blackberries but, if the present shortages and rising prices continue; many of them might be before long.

The good weather has also reminded me that there was another delicacy to be found in the fields before the blackberries came into full bloom. This was the field mushrooms which used to thrive in warm, moist conditions at this time of year.

With this activity in mind, and slight word of caution to be advised that you are not picking poisonous ones, I would like to give my readers 'a taste' of a poem written by my good friend Noel Sharkey, which he has kindly given permission to be published.

To walk in the fields of morning dew,
With the wetness lying on each buttercup,
And listen with the chosen few
While the birds are tuning up –

And gather mushrooms, the childish pleasure
of finding them profusely arrayed in beds –
All the places where might unearth the
Treasure
Of their little Hiroshima-cloud like heads.

Some near cow-pats or embedded
in high tufts of grass or clumps of clover.
Some with sticks pockmarked and
Threaded
Where maggots had already taken over.

The memories of these childhood walks
Upon these fields of untilled ground –
Gathering in any mushroom stalks
Wherever they might be found.

I would like to remind readers that Noel has donated all his profits from his works to the Birches Alzheimer Day Care Centre, Priorland Road, Dundalk.

He has raised a goodly sum to date and welcomes any assistance that readers may care to forward to the assist the same very worthy charity.

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