The Irish Harp

by ericavanhorn

29 December Friday


In 1993, we made a letterpress concertina of this statement for our Coracle residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In 1998, we laminated some of the leftover pages of text that had never been folded. We put grommets and strings on them. We called them Tree Ties. Today I spent some time down by the stream pulling pieces of ivy off the tree so that I could expose the Tree Tie a bit. I do not remember how long it has been attached to that tree. It is in pretty good shape.


27 December Wednesday

There is a lot of moss everywhere. I am not sure if it is because of the mild weather or if it is in spite of the mild weather. The luminous green glows and makes us pay attention to things which we might miss.


26 December Tuesday

We walked up Middlequarter and along the old track which is more like a riverbed than a path. It would have been wise for me to take a walking stick. The rocks were slippery with moss and wet leaves.  We managed to do most of the walk before the rain started up again. The path is lined with holly on both sides.  The sharp edges of the holly scratched at us as moved through them. When we dropped down to the place where the narrow path becomes a farm track we passed Des Dillon’s cottage. As always, I admired his green gate.


24 December Sunday

Every year Anthony makes a Christmas tree from tyres. Anthony runs the motor factors and tyre place in the village. Everyone with a car or a truck or a tractor goes to Anthony for new tyres and for repairs to flat tyres. He is as happy to fix a wheelbarrow tyre as he is to do a bicycle tyre. He has a lot of old tyres. Every year his tyre tree is a little bit different from the year before. The tree is built on top on some pallets and held on with a big yellow strap. It might even be the same tree each year with just slightly different treatment. This year he layered green leaves between each tyre. Every year the tree appears as a surprise.

23 December Saturday

There was a piece in the news about some youths wrecking a church. They went in and smashed things up. The church was in an isolated spot out west somewhere. No one heard them or saw them. They broke every window and most of the benches. They set a few things on fire. They did not appear to have stolen anything. They just destroyed the place. People have been discussing it.  Jimmie was very saddened by it. He did not like the disrespect nor the irreverence. He despaired about the waste. He shook his head again and again. In a quiet voice, he said, “It is the problem for kids today. They are trying to have fun but they do not know how.”

22 December Friday

The weather is all wrong. It is unseasonably mild after a period of deep hard cold. There are daffodils pushing up from the ground. Some are already showing three inches of green. Lilacs and currant bushes have buds. The apple trees have buds and one even has a few blossoms. Roses are showing new growth. None of this is right. There are two snowdrops in bloom. They are also early but at least they are only a few weeks early. They are not as early as everything else. I heard on the radio that a daffodil grower down in Wexford has multiple fields of daffodils in full bloom. He is deeply upset. There is no market for daffodils in December. He said he is a ruined man.

21 December Thursday

The pressure is on. People stop one another to ask if everything is done. These are the Pre-Christmas things to be done. It is not only the things like the tree and decorations and the wreath for the door and the gifts and the turkey. It is all the other things which demand attention before the day. It is all the things to do before the Great Christmas Shut Down. Even though things do not shut down as completely as they once did, people act like the stores and the banks and the Post Office will never open again, and there will never be enough in the house to get through the ten days of the Shut Down. There are so many things which MUST be done before the holiday. I always feel like people are adding completely unnecessary things to the Must Do list just to increase the sense of panic. Every year I try to take note of all of the Important Things and every year I learn about some more things. A list might be the best way for me to keep track of the demands, even though I shall not be doing these things myself.  I shall no doubt forget some things:

  1. The graves of the deceased must be cleaned and either fresh flowers or an evergreen remembrance wreath should be placed on  the grave. This is especially important for the recently deceased.
  2.  The dog, if you have a dog, must be washed and groomed at the dog groomer.
  3.  The car must be washed.
  4.  The car should be filled to the top with petrol or diesel before Christmas Day.
  5.  A haircut is essential.
  6.  A supply of coal or turf must be bought and ready.
  7.  The firewood supply must be stacked and ready.
  8.  Teeth must be cleaned by the dental hygienist.
  9.  The windows of the house must be washed inside and out.