Sunday, April 01, 2012

Myxomatosis


My previous post sort of linked the Titanic and Ballyhaunis. The Titanic got me thinking about Father Browne and I went to his site to check out some of his photographs.

He seems to have had a great grá for the old steam trains, a sign of a powerful intellect and great aesthetic judgement.

The above photo brought me up short. It is typical of a view I had many times when I was young and on my way from Dublin to Ballyhaunis. It is listed as being "the new diesel in 1953". These cars were unusual in that you could go right up to the front of the passenger section and, through the glass panel, get the same view as the driver.

This was very exciting for a young lad; apart from the view, you could watch the driver driving and effectively learn how to drive the train yourself. The view itself was marvellous. Much of the country was single track; this meant that sections were controlled by the staff system which added another interesting element to the journey.

But the view was not all plain sailing. The rabbits were all dying of myxomatosis and the view of them dragging themselves along, including onto the track to be mowed down by the train, was disgusting.

Rabbit meat which, like today's chicken, had been freely available and reasonably priced, just vanished off the butchers' shelves. Prior to the spread of myxomatosis the rabbits lived a better and more healthy life than the poor battery chickens of today. In all, a sad, sad story.

If you're interested, you can read about the demise of the Ballyhaunis signal box here. Gone the way of the rabbits it is, never to come back.

On a slightly brighter note regarding the chickens, I roasted a free range chicken the other day and you could actually pull the wishbone. Must have been very free range. Up to now, and unlike in the distant past (when I was young), the wishbones, and all the other bones, even in purportedly free range chickens, were coming apart in the oven. Doesn't bear thinking about.

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