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Country Matters: Sickle cuts on the long acre where now the chainsaw reigns supreme

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SET-PIECE TALES: Mary Byrne whose book, Plugging the Causal Breach, is published by Regal House

SET-PIECE TALES: Mary Byrne whose book, Plugging the Causal Breach, is published by Regal House

SET-PIECE TALES: Mary Byrne whose book, Plugging the Causal Breach, is published by Regal House

The winding roads of rural Normandy were reminiscent of Ireland and meandered between thick hedgerows, easing around bends to reveal new sights and pleasant people.

An older woman was on her knees, a folded sack beneath, wielding a sickle in the grass of a 'long acre' alongside a small house. Cut, gather, cut, gather - all with a careful rhythmic action. Each tuft of grass was important and valued.

In Ireland, even then, this verge would be deeply scored by tyres and muddied with the detritus of speeding wheels.