Saturday, June 20, 2009

Traditional Haymaking Festival


Tomorrow Sunday 21st June sees the annual Scurlogstown Olympiad’s Traditional Haymaking Festival taking place in Trim’s Porchfields in a most picturesque setting along the banks of the Boyne with a great view across the river to Trim Castle. The event features as usual a packed programme which includes the National Scythe-Cutting competition.

There are also some dramatic events - Trim Drama Group will perform a scene from the 'The Plough And The Stars' by Sean O’Casey following their successful runs in Trim and Navan and Boyne Writers Group member Paddy Smith has scripted and directed a re-enactment/ drama/ pageant about farmer Dan O’Hara and a group of travellers. I don't wish to give away the plot but it appears that Dan's daughter, Nancy, may take a fancy to one of the travellers.

There will also be a poetry house at the festival under the stewardship of Meath Writers' Circle leader, Trim poet Tommy Murray. Poets and those interested in poetry are invited to drop in and read their work or just listen.

More details of the packed programme here on the website and here in the Meath Chronicle.

There has been some comment about the poster above especially about the hayfork. It has four prongs and my memory is that a hayfork or pitchfork should have only two. However you have to be careful, the exact make up of farm implements in the past could be very localised with different style used in different regions.

The fork in the poster I would call a graipe and we would have used it for cleaning out manure but not for hay. Our pitchforks had two prongs and had to be light and easily handled. Notice that the "pitchfork" in the illustration here has five prongs.

Heaney captures it well when he writes in The Pitchfork:

Of all implements, the pitchfork was the one
That came near to an imagined perfection . . .

It felt like a javelin, accurate and light.

(Seeing Things)

By the way how many prongs in the pitchfork in Grant Wood's 1930 painting American Gothic? Answer here.


2 comments:

BarbaraS said...

I would call it a graipe too, and used for what you say.

A pitchfork, however, has a longer shaft than the graipe, which is very useful when you're trying to pitch the hay right up on the top of the cart or lorrybed. :)

Michael Farry said...

That's right Barbara. I think they have a sheaf tossing competition at the festival and I'm sure that's done with a two pronged pitchfork.