Country Matters: Nothing to fear as summer weaves its web of life


A collection of Patrick Kavanagh’s poetry – read by prominent figures and the poet himself – has been released by Claddagh Records. He wrote a very lengthy one on Lough Derg or St. Patrick’s Purgatory, but never mentioned mosquitoes, those human-tormenting insects that roam the lake shores.

t Lough Derg, beating the critters is an added penance, I hear. My experience of clouds of gnats and water remains with the small trout runs in North Mayo on August nights and the relief of the long drive ‘home’ to Maughan’s hospitable pub. It seems like it was only yesterday.

Kavanagh’s Pilgrimage is a fascinating documentary about human life, suffering and sad stories, sobs and sore soles, black tea and hard beds. His penitents were from Cavan and Leitrim, and also from Mayo, “from all the thin-faced parishes where hills are perished noses from which peat-water flows”.

There were barbs for some: “Lawyers pray for convenient jobs as county registrars or coroners…. Moms whose daughters are Final Medicals…and wives whose husbands have started drinking.”

He also found those he described as sincere pilgrims who were “the true spirit of Ireland” coming across the black waves to the echo of a bell that “shooed them through the chapel door like hens to roost”.

Summer is a time for insects — like last week’s attention-grabbing wasps and bees, which also sting — and it encompasses arachnophobia, too.

Elsewhere in the world, there are understandable reactions to venomous arthropods like the Australian redback spider and black widow – which can produce multiple widows and widowers annually.

There is also a nasty banana spider from South America that occasionally wreaks havoc on fruit displays in European supermarkets.

Almost every spider is venomous, but the fangs of the native ones are too weak to pierce our thick skins. It is said that the better a spider is at spinning a web, the less likely it is to have a strong bite.

Mosquitoes, midges, harvest bugs and other pesky summer insects can be kept at bay with proper covering without using harsh soaps, shampoos and body sprays.

When a mosquito bites, the human body reacts. Sensitive skin cells contain substances called cytokines that are released to send signals to other cells in the body, which in turn cause blood vessels to swell and widen. The cells release histamine, which activates receptors and causes itching.

And so on and on it goes. I have a long handled clog horn that I found in a Chinese goods store in Portugal that has now developed a useful life as a back scratcher. Country Matters: Nothing to fear as summer weaves its web of life

Fry Electronics Team

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