Sep 08 2009

Published by at 8:13 pm under News


When we were young my Dad would take a gang of us kids for a walk up along the Royal Canal at Cabra West to pick blackberries. We had a couple of brown earthenware jars around the house that came with us and a few empty milk bottles with a piece of twine tied around the neck. We would hang a bottle around our neck so as to leave our hands free to pick the blackberries.  The older ones carried the jars. This activity would generally take place after dinner on Sunday. Some of our little pals might tag along with a bottle of their own. Off we would head up Killala Road, along Fassaugh Avenue and turn right up over Broombridge Road. As soon as we arrived at the foot of the bridge spanning the canal we’d all race as fast as we could to be first over the bridge.  The shouts and screams from us kids would echo all over the area. From the top of the bridge I could see my Dad strolling along with a cigarette in one hand and my younger sister in the other. My father would always warn us not to pick the berries nearest the ground because the Devil spits on them. We were allowed to eat the first few that we picked but the rest had to go into the bottles or jars for the Ma’ to make jam with. I could never figure out why the biggest and juiciest berries were always up out of reach of us little ones. Everyone would be shouting at the Da’ to get a big belly buster that  they could see right up at the very top of the blackberry bush. No matter how careful I was those nasty thorns always managed to stick into my little hands and fingers. Sometimes we would climb over a fence and get into one of the fields that ran alongside the canal pathway and like a swarm of locust we’d clean off every blackberry in sight. All of us would end up with red hands and a red mark all around our mouths from the juice of the berries. One time in a field close to the Cabra Baths my father spotted a crab apple tree. That too was stripped bare of all its fruit to be included in the jam. By the time we’d finally reach home each and everyone of us would be exhausted and hungry. My mother would greet us at the door with a warm smile and the aroma of freshly baked bread. Straightaway she’d beging washing the blackberries and peeling the crab apples and in no time at all the house would fill up with the beautiful smell of homemade jam. At six o’ clock the tea was poured out and the table ladened down with feshly cut bread and jam that was still hot from the stove. Those were the days alright when homemade bread and jam were a feast fit for a king.

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