Monthly Archives: April 2016

Weekly photo Challenge – Abstract

It was Joel Sternfeld’s quote which inspired me to try this photograph in black and white.

Black and white is abstract; color is not. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world.


Posted as part of this week’s weekly photo challenge – Abstract where Ben Huberman asks us to find something new and mysterious in something familiar.


Happy Earth Day

Today the 22nd April is EARTH DAY. If you only do one thing for the environment this year leave some wildflowers in you garden for some pollinators. If you don’t have any flowers, buy some seeds and plant some. If you don’t have a garden buy a window box or pot and do the same.

It will add a sparkle to your life! My 5 year old just asked why the bee was all sparkly – I explained that it was the pollen on it!

Bumblebee on dandelion

Bumblebee on dandelion

April Flowers

The garden is starting to show a bit of colour and when the sun shines it certainly warms the heart. One of my spring favourites are the fruit tree blossoms which are just beginning. The plum blossom has a particular delicate, sweet smell which I wish  I could share.

Plum blossom

Plum blossom

The lollipop primula where a gift from my sister a couple of years ago. The daffodils are nearly over but the pale ones are still looking  good. The pansies are the first pansies I have successfully grown from seed!

Of course there are wildflowers too. Though the wood sorrel is currently growing in a pot where it seeded itself. I love daisies and of course dandelions are great for early pollinators.

Frogswell Garden – revisited

We visited our friend Celia’s Frogswell Garden again over the Easter. Her garden is a true inspiration. It is a woodland garden packed full of spring flowers. Hellebores are her particular specialty, but there are also many varieties of Narcissi, as well as tulip and much more. Despite the rain I took quite a few photos. Here are a few of the better ones.

Celia is having and open afternoon in aid of Mayo Mountain Rescue  on Saturday, April 23, 2016 to 3.30 pm to 5:30 pm

In search of Murtagh

For those of you who haven’t read my ‘about’ page you may wonder why I choose to call the blog Murtagh’s Meadow. Basically the field in which our house was built was always know by our family as Murtagh’s Meadow – named by the man who used to own it. Living on a farm it is always useful to have names on fields. So for example, as a child if my father said “bring the cows back to ‘Murtagh’s Meadow’ or the ‘Far Field’, or the ‘Barley Field’ you would always know exactly where he meant.

Murtagh's Meadow when it was still a meadow

Murtagh’s Meadow when it was still a meadow

Today the census enumerator arrived with our census form for the latest Irish Census which will take place on the 24th April. Each household gets a form and fills in some basic details of their household on that evening – like name, age, occupation etc.

My son, who is 8, was interested so we read through the form and I explained as best I could about the process. Then we went online to visit the National Archives Census pages. This fascinating resource has complete records of the Irish 1901 and 1911 Census, as well as some earlier records. As an exercise we decided to look up our own townland and see if we could recognize any family names from the 1911 census. And indeed we could.

But the most fascinating finding was that of Michael Murtagh, aged 60. He lived with his widowed sister, Mary Gallagher (53), and four of her six children; Bridget (25), Ellen (20), Patrick (15) and Thomas (12). Michael’s occupation was “farmer”.

With one success under my belt I decided to dig a bit deeper and look at the 1901 census. And here things get a little bit confusing. There is indeed a Michael Murtagh listed. But his age is down as 42 (which wouldn’t add up). He lives in a house where the head is listed as Margaret Murtagh (80 years) and he is listed as her step-son. Other people listed in the house include Margaret’s daughter Mary Gallagher (listed as 43 which would suggest that she is the same Mary as in the 1911 census!).  Some of the children are also listed and again the names and ages match up, but strangely they are listed as being nieces and nephews to Margaret though I would have thought they were grandchildren. Because many of the adults were unable to read or write census enumerators would have completed the forms in earlier censuses and I wonder if a mistake may have been made here. I think it probably was the same Michael. Chances are that it could have been Margaret Murtagh’s field and/or her husband’s (she is listed as widowed) before her.

It is all quite fascinating. I am sure when the Murtagh and Gallagher families filled out those census forms over one hundred years ago they would never have imagined that anyone would be looking at digital copies of them today. We have no idea what the future holds for us. Today there are no Murtagh’s or Gallagher’s living in our townland, but now that I have started digging i may ask some of our other neighbours what they know of these families.

April – Garden Update

It’s been a while since I did a garden update. Spare time these days is spent either in the greenhouse or the polytunnel as outside the ground is still too wet to do much with.

It’s exciting to see things germinating in the greenhouse. Here is just a sample.

We are enjoying some salad crops from the greenhouse and the overwintered spinach is also coming on nicely.

In the polytunnel, the broad beans set last November are flowering and we are enjoying some broccoli sprouts from broccoli that over wintered. Purslane seeds itself all over the tunnel so what we don’t eat, I try digging in as green manure or feed to the chickens. The over-wintered leaf beat is a great addition to stews and stir-frys.