Ag Bailiú Sméara Dúbha

Fadó Fadó in September, when we went back to school after the long summer holidays the second Irish essay we got to write was: "Ag Bailiú Sméara Dúbha" - picking blackberries. (The first one was "Mo Laethanta Saoire"!


Everyone picked blackberries in those days. We made jam or blackberry pie - assuming that any of the blackberries made it back to the house! Even a small kid could pick a couple of pounds in an hour or two. But if there ever were to be a weigh-in most of the blackberries would be in the child rather than in the Tupperware containers handed out by Maimí agus Daidí.


Ochón Ochón, however, it's a bit of a lost art nowadays given that the Celtic Tiger means that no one has the time to stand and stare or pick blackberries. And of course everyone can afford to buy shop jam. But it's not really the same is it?

Blackberry and Apple Jam

Take 900g (2lb) blackberries and 325g (12oz) green (peeled and cored) apples, 150ml (¼pt) water and 1.35kg (3lb) sugar or slightly less sugar if you like your jam more tart. Remove the insects from the blackberries, wash and drain. Bring the ingredients to the boil and boil hard in a suitably sized saucepan for 15 to 20 minutes. Then simmer and test small portions on a saucer for setting in a cool place - it's ready when a skin begins to form. Pour into sterilised jam jars. If you prefer seedless you can strain the mix through a muslin bag to give blackberry jelly.




Of course any Sméara Dúbha essay worth its salt had to end up with the author being chased by a bull.

And then there was always elderberry wine............!




Photos taken in early September near Castlebar


More photos of Castlebar and County Mayo in the West of Ireland
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