My Other Garden – The Brindled Cow

While out cycling today I came upon a grounded cow. It was either dead or very close to it. Coincidentally, a cycling friend who is very interested in Irish folklore brought my attention to The Riabhach Days. Here’s an account written by a young schoolboy from County Mayo:

The three last days of March are called The Riabhach Days. Those three days are the coldest days in the year. Once there was an old cow and when April came she thought she did not need to stay in at night so she stayed out at night. April borrowed three days from March and those days came very bad and at the end of the three days the cow was dead.

There are versions of this story throughout England and Scotland. Indeed there’s a Spanish version too…

A shepherd promised March a lamb if he would temper the winds to suit the shepherd’s flocks. After his request was granted, the shepherd refused to deliver the payment. In revenge, March borrowed three days from April, in which fiercer winds than ever blew to punish the deceiver.

Irish Independent

Today was much colder than previous days and it seems that northerly air is set to dominate our weather as we move in to April. I must close the glasshouse.

Reference in Wikipedia: In the Irish Calendar The Old Cows Days/The Days of the Brindled Cow are the last days of March and the first three days of April; in Irish: Laethanta na Bó Riabhaí.

My Other Garden

It’s not summer yet, but the Summer Bike is out. It has been cleaned, serviced, stroked lovingly and is now ready for road. The weather has been very good all week, and today was exceptional, so good, in fact, that I cycled twice.

After breakfast, Marion and I cycled with friends towards Kilmacthomas at a gentle leisurely pace. I abandoned them mid spin to be home for an appointment as they enjoyed coffee in warm sunshine.

After lunch, I cycled a few little hills, starting with Ballymarket. Then, with ever so slightly increasing difficulty there’s Stradbally Cove, Ballvooney, Ballydwan, Tankardstown, Kilmurrin, Dunabrattin and Annstown. Here, I dismounted, munched a bar, sipped and stretched, before cycling each hill in reverse. A super day to be alive!

At Dunabrattin there’s a wonderful sculpture called Fire, Ice and Sea. It depicts the forces that shaped this UNESCO Copper Coast Geopark. I took some time to read the small print. It seems that many millions of years before I started cycling, Ireland was near the equator.

Today’s cycling was all about taking in the splendour of my locality. On a fine day, there’s no better place.

At a smaller level, primroses are everywhere, the wild garlic is appearing in shady corners and the scent of the furze is just overwhelming.

I’ll be back to my small garden tomorrow.

Tailwind Heaven

Back in pre-Covid times I’d have completed a 200km day out before Valentine’s Day.

Last Saturday would have been a good day for the garden, but instead I hopped on the rothar. Marion and I were booked into Ferrycarrig Hotel in Wexford and I spotted a good weather forecast for cycling. The wind was my friend as it strengthened behind me. Cyclists generally hate wind but this time it was my friend, as my journey was one way.

Just over 100km in just under 4 hours, followed by a snooze, a gorgeous meal in good company and a few Guinness. We put the world right again.

Last year, with all the stop-start of restrictions I didn’t complete my first 100km spin until June! Back in pre-Covid times I’d have completed a 200km day out before Valentine’s Day. Not sure that my left knee is up to that any longer. My other one would be fine.

It’s good to be back in the garden. Things are stirring.


O, I do like to cycle my bicycle. (To the tune of… O, I do like to be beside the seaside.)

My usual escape to my Other Garden brings me past Glenshelane. Today, I chose to stop and stare for a short while. My mountain bike is being serviced and I’ll be looking forward to exploring this area very soon.

Unbelievably, on my journey I spotted many cattle already out in the fields. The weather has been very dry and ploughing has started.

More importantly, I was able to layer down. Instead of three upper body layers, two were enough. I even cycled without overshoes. What is the world coming to?

As Gaeilge, Glenn Siothlain means Glen of the fairies.