Sunday 21 January 2018

Happy return to swallowdale

Brian Farrell rejoices in the arrival of a young swallow that is nesting in its former birthplace, Brian's hen shed

ALL IS FORGIVEN: Seeing swallows. Photo: Brian Farrell
ALL IS FORGIVEN: Seeing swallows. Photo: Brian Farrell

Brian Farrell

'And what time of the day do you think this is?" I found myself shouting at the sky. "Think you can come sailing in here, on a wing and a prayer, three sheets to the wind? Your cousins were in Cootehall a week ago. I saw them in Elphin and Heapstown and Corrigeenroe, three days ago, with my own two eyes.

"Corrigeeeeeenroe! For God's sake."

But then I remembered: sure, he's only young. And, chances are, that's the truth. Chances are, his parents who nested in our hen shed last year didn't make it back.

Because the parents, who were also born here, would have to survive four hazardous 60,000-mile journeys to return with last year's brood.

About 60pc of the youngsters don't survive their first trip to South Africa from Ireland at all.

So the brat who now has a great failte for himself above my head, who will cheer up our yard and drive our cats mad, is likely a young male from last year's brood coming back to the home place where his parents settled down and started a family.

Maybe he did stop off in Carrick-on-Shannon last weekend for his stag party but, now that he's here, he's doing up the old nest and turning it back into the snug home where he himself was born.

So all is forgiven, my young fainleog and look, we'll leave the door of the hen shed open a bit later tonight, because chances are, you might not return again.

Sunday Independent

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