Sunday Independent

It's the cat's whiskers and the organic milk won't get your goat

EVEN as far back as 1982, there weren't many 18-year-olds who regarded it as a cracking career move to enter holy orders. It was with some surprise therefore to my family and indeed myself, that I entered the priesthood in rural Ireland with seven other strange blokes.

I assumed on entering this semi-enclosed order that beatification could not be far off - at least no further than a week away.

I was proved entirely correct in this assertion when on day two, an old lady came up to me in the sacristy and bowing her head, kissed my hand.

For a chap who had secured one point in his Leaving Cert a week earlier and was now wearing a brown habit, this was something of a turnaround and surely a Bishopric could only be a novena away.

And better things got. Soon we learnt that the simple vows of chastity, poverty and obedience actually only really meant obedience. You only had to look at the state of the eight novices to realise that chastity was never going to be a serious problem for any of us.

The vow of poverty was luckily a broad church too. Securing material requests on demand, from cars to spanking new turbo priest sandals, did not apparently mean we were breaking our promise of poverty.

No, ours was a poverty of spirit which, as I commented to our mechanic when picking up the Saab up from its service, was handy enough.

Obedience was a different matter. Only those who have entered the priesthood will really get this. When you are in the priesthood, you will frequently be challenged by a series of desultory and entirely pointless commands.

For example, a seemingly uncomplicated matter like suggesting a hymn for Mass on a Sunday could well be met with such a look of righteous indignation from one of the paid-up friars as to make you wonder if you hadn't actually just queried the resurrection .

Nor would I describe myself as a disobedient sort of a chap. Historically my mother would have begged to differ, and when in school, she would always threaten me with removal to boarding school for even my most minor explosive offences.

The particular school was in Westmeath and since those days I have driven through this county faster then the speed of light for fear a giant holy man will grab me and put me up the front of the class in some prison doubling up as a school.

Lately however my therapist says I am coming on a treat, and now I can saunter through the county

'Some homes hide behind the curtains when they see you coming. Catstone Lodge and Farm however wraps its arms around you, gives you a great big kiss, and asks can it be your friend. ' without so much as breaking out in a small sweat. For the rest of the population, of course, Westmeath has and always will be a special place. Uisneach Hill is known as the centre of Ireland, and about five miles from this spot beside the village of Ballymore lies Catstone Lodge and Farm, now up for sale through that most blue blooded of auctioneers Ganly Walters. The renovation of this property has been superb. The main house has two extensions on either side with separate entrances, containing en suite apartments with living area, open fireplaces, luxurious bathrooms and kitchenettes. The reconstruction of the whole building is carried out in old style stone walls, patterned old slating, pitch pine and oak beams from architectural salvages. All the windows are teak and double glazed. The main house includes two bedrooms and a garden room, while the first apartment boasts a wooden floor, beamed ceiling, part exposed stone wall, brick fireplace with handcrafted copperhood and a hand painted fitted pine wardrobe. The second apartment is similar and while the cottage has the usual bedroom livingroom/kitchen features etc, it also has a mezzanine area with wooden floor, velux window and storage room which would be perfect for an office or small second bedroom. The draw of Catstone to many will be that it is a working organic farm specialising in goats milk. Amongst other things, there is a 12-bay shed and a hay barn, and also a modern 12-unit milking parlour specially for goats. On the farm there is a work shop with large windows to north, formally used as an artist's studio. There is also an old restored stone outhouse beside Catstone lodge which houses a utility room and another storage room. Another small shed with two windows could be used for garden tools etc. There is also another old stone cottage can easily be restored into a two-storey house with two bedrooms. There is a patio area to the back of the property leading to a well kept lawn surrounded by shrubs and flower beds, original stone wall, and mature trees. This is an easy care garden with a small greenhouse. Some homes hide behind the curtains when they see you coming. Others extend a nervous hand, while still others will invite you in the parlour. Catstone Lodge & Farm however wraps its arms around you, gives you a great big kiss, and asks can it be your friend. After a viewing you will know that this particular hand of friendship can never be rejected. Now if you will excuse me, after my earlier comments I'm off to hear confession - my own that is. For further information, contact Harriet Grant of Ganly Walters on 01 662 3255

John O'Keeffe

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?