August is going to be a busy month at Cabragh Wetlands, with several events looming to fill gaps in your holiday calendar. With the summer moving forward towards harvest it is time to celebrate the old Celtic festival of Lughnasa, when the first crops were gathered and great feasts held.
Niall Mac Coitir’s wonderful book on the myths and folklore of Irish Trees points out that July used to be viewed as the hungry month, when available food had to be eked out until the first of the new crops were available in August. Communal celebrations were then held with fairs, sports and gatherings for feasts by rivers and on hills, with holly being particularly celebrated because of its toughness and suitability for chariots and spears which would have been at the centre of competition and fun.
We cannot promise you spear-chucking competitions or a feast of mediaeval proportions, but there will be a celebration of Lughnasa at Cabragh Wetlands on Tuesday 8th August at 8.30 pm, when a teabag and a token mouthful will be ritually offered to all who attend.
It’s time to start planning a costume for a Fancy Dress Show at Cabragh Wetlands Open Day on Sunday August 28th) when we expect another good turnout of creativity from the children. Raffle tickets will soon be on sale, with great prizes of tickets for the All-Ireland final, a Digital Camera and Dinner for Two at the Mitchell House Restaurant. Don’t miss your chance to get one of these wonderful prizes; last year two Thurles folk only got to see Tipp’s triumph because they invested a few euros in the Cabragh Raffle – it could be you in 2011. Pencil the date into your diary and come out to the Wetlands on the 28th.
Heritage Week is also fast approaching, and on Saturday 20th August there will be a thought-provoking event at Cabragh, with a talk at 3.00pm that will challenge the way you look at Nature and introduce some of the more radical ideas of Green Thinking. After a refreshment break there will a guided walk around the Wetlands.
There was a fascinating discussion at Cabragh last week about local food production, with Tipperary farmers and food producers, allotment holders, farmers’ market stallholders and Thurles Chamber of Commerce all very actively involved. Discussion was centred on the upcoming Tipperary Fayre on August 21St, when Friar Street will be closed and a street market held. The Fayre will focus on local food production and tourism, with the Art and Craft communities also providing stalls. The message from the meeting was that in a sane world there would be a far greater emphasis on supporting local producers and shops that stock locally-sourced products. Farmers’ Markets play a great and necessary role, but the Thurles Chamber was asked to look at the possibility of supporting market-type retail outlets that are open most days of the week, increasing the ability of people to buy and sell at a time that suits their family and business.
Participants convincingly challenged the widely held belief that food grown on a small scale and sold through a local market is inevitably more expensive than supermarket produce. Often this has been transported hundreds, even thousands, of miles at great expense, with resulting environmental damage, carbon costs and loss of taste and nutritional quality because the produce has been picked far too early. Of course this is a complex issue, but needs all our attention. We need to focus again on fresh, seasonal food and encourage people to consider ideas of local self-sufficiency in most items. At a time when East Africa is facing its worst famine in 50 years, with millions threatened with starvation and babies dying in distressing numbers, why are we importing food from that part of the world which we could grow ourselves?
If you want to take part in the Tipperary Fayre, contact Clodagh Duggan on 086 7737691. There is a lot for you to get involved with over the next few weeks.