Wednesday, February 15, 2017

NO kidding − a goat called Rosie has been crowned Queen of the Slieve Blooms!

Judges were on the horns of a difficult dilemma, as sleek contestants clashed for the coveted title. In the end, her amazing performance on a mountain runway saw the winner coming up roses to take the Imbolc Goat 2017 tiara.

The honour of crowning Rosie at the Slieve Bloom Imbolc Festival went to Mick Dowling, who has a wealth of local knowledge about the tradition of selecting a goat as ‘Queen of the Mountain’.

Mick explains: “It is a very hardy animal able to live on any type of ground. They’d be able to find a bit of grass from ten miles away.” 

The contestants were led on a short hike up Spink Hill, where they were welcomed by Slieve Bloom Association (SBA) vice-chairperson Leo Brophy, who began the milking demonstration. Rosie’s rich milk and docile demeanour scooped the magnificent faux-diamond encrusted tiara, embellished with tasteful pink fluff that perfectly complemented her creamy complexion.

This is the fifth successive year that the SBA has hosted the revived festival, which was held in Cadamstown on Sunday 5 February. One of four Celtic seasonal festivals, Imbolc marks the beginning of spring and is associated with many customs. In the Slieve Blooms, it has traditionally been associated with the milking of goats.

Mick points out that, long ago, people travelled long distances to get to the festival. It was a major social gathering that the SBA is continuing to emulate, as people came to the event from all over the midlands.

On the descent from Spink Hill, the gathering stopped off at the Giant’s Grave in Co Laois, close to the Offaly border. A passage tomb made from conglomerate stone − the same type of stone found on Spink Hill, where the goats are milked − was a burial place for Blahma. Although not a giant or large in stature, Blahma was a great leader in battle and the Slieve Bloom Mountains are named after him.

The SBA thanked all who attended or brought their goats, especially Declan O’Farrell, newly-crowned Queen Rosie, Mick Dowling for his informative talks, Coillte and Johnny Rigney, Carol Nolan and Dempsey’s pub.

The next association meeting will be held in the Green School, Rosenallis at 8.30pm on Thursday 16 February. The next festival, the Bealtaine ‘May Bush’ Festival, will be held on Sunday 30 April in Rosenallis. New members are always welcome.

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By Carmel Hayes
Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

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