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Thursday 27 April 2017

Friendly goats wanted for milking at Spink Hill

Joe O’Shea pictured with 'Suzie' the goat who was crowed the Slieve Bloom’s ‘Queen of the Mountain’ at the Bracket Stones on Spink Hill during last year’s Imbolc Festival oin County Offaly.
Joe O’Shea pictured with 'Suzie' the goat who was crowed the Slieve Bloom’s ‘Queen of the Mountain’ at the Bracket Stones on Spink Hill during last year’s Imbolc Festival oin County Offaly.
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

A bunch of nanny goats are set to ensure a prosperous harvest comes to the midlands this spring.

As part of the revival of Imbolc - a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring - a group of friendly goats will be milked on the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

The ancient custom was brought back to life by the Slieve Bloom Association five years ago and organisers are calling on farmers to get in touch if they own a social goat that would like to take part.

"In our part of the country the custom associated with Imbolc was celebrated by the milking of a goat, in other parts of the country they light fires on hills," said organiser Barry Keegan.

"It used to be just one goat, crowned the nanny goat, but this year we have a call out looking for up to five milky nanny goats that are sociable and happy around people," he said.

The goats will be milked on the mountains iconic "Bracket Stones" - a rock formation left behind from glaciers.

"The goats will be milked there and it's supposed to bring a good omen and prosperity for the harvest to come," said Barry.

Organisers say the idea behind restoring the tradition, which is one of the four Celtic seasonal festivals, was about bringing local rural communities in the heartlands together.

Other seasonal festivals include: Bealtane, Lughnasadh and Samhain.

One exceptional member will be named the Slieve Bloom's 'Queen of the Mountain'.

"Last year a goat called Suzie was crowned with the prestigious honour and the association is now searching for a successor."

"At the Bracket Stones people will hear old stories and fables about the history of the area and the traditions of the Celtic Festival of Imbolc."

"It is a family friendly event and spectators will have the opportunity to watch or take part in the milking of the goat on Spink Hill. A lucky few may even get the chance to churn the milk," said Barry.

Afterwards, the new Imbolc Goat will be crowned and adorned with silky ribbons and garlands.

Imbolc Festival 2017 or 'Milking of the Goat' Festival will take place on Sunday February 5. The meeting point is Cadamstown car park, County Offaly, leaving at 2pm sharp for the Bracket Stones on Spink Hill.

If you have a milking goat and would like to participate, the Slieve Bloom Association would love to hear from you. You can contact the association at info@slievebloomassociation.com or call 085 737 6745 / 087 206 1673. Find further information on www.SlieveBloomAssociation.com on Facebook or on Twitter @Slieve_Bloom.

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