Niall Glynn – The Country Hills
The Country Hills
By Niall Glynn
Every month I would go on my quad and check the livestock on the hills. The month came around. I got up at six o’clock. Me and my friend John got ready and packed our bags and put diesel in the quads. We normally stay up there for five or six days. We were all set to go. I went and got Shep the sheep dog. He is the best sheep dog in the world. I locked the door and set off up the hills. We just put up new fences two years ago. We don’t need water troughs because streams run through the hills.
Myself and John were on our way off with Shep. We reached the first hill. It was the smallest one of the hills the cattle grazed it. All the locals keep Herford Angus and Shorthorn cattle and they keep Lanark and Scottish sheep. We were on the way to the second hill. We saw a mink. John took out Shep and he ran after it and killed it but on his way back Shep slipped and cut his leg. We strapped it up and continued on. We noticed on the way up that there was a hole in the fence. Three hundred sheep broke out. Lucky we built a pen but Shep’s knee was still sore and the land was too wet for the quads so we left the quads and started walking.
It took me and John a while because some of the sheep were lame and the dog was injured. When we got the three hundred sheep in, I got a phone call saying the fair would be starting in four days. It was really cold so I put on an extra coat. When we got the sheep and cattle sorted John went over to start the quads. They wouldn’t start so we pushed them into the old shed on the side of the hill. The night came fast. We went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up at four. It was pitch dark. John woke up at five o’clock. We had nothing to eat only the mink John had shot the other day. We cut him up (after that). My Dad rang me and I told him about the quads. He said he would send a lad up but it would be after the fair. We left our bags at the shed and the dog was fine so we set off. On our way down we saw something in the corner of the hill. It was a donkey. Neither John nor I John could not know where he came from. We said we would bring him and sell him at the fair. We got to the next mountain and all the sheep and cattle had to cross the river. We took a break. We decided to build a bridge because the water was too strong for some of the lambs. We started to build it. We used some of the timber from the old shed. John got the timber and I started to build it. It became too dark so we got our tent up and got the sleeping bags. We decided to go to sleep and continue on in the morning.
We woke up a bit late at six o’clock. When we started to build the bridge we had just finished and my father rang. He said that the mountain we wanted was up for sale and would be sold at the fair. We had two days to have the sheep and cattle down for the fair. We set off straight away after I hung up the phone. We started to move them across and everything went well. We moved them on and I kept them going and John went and opened the gate. Shep and I got them out the gate pretty easily. Shep started barking so I took him off the lead. He took off running down the hill. The sheep didn’t even see him but if they did we would never get them back. We could not see him for about five minutes. We saw something in the distance. It came closer and then John realised it was Shep. He had caught another mink. We knew that we would have something to eat for tea. We continued on the journey. We had about six more mountains left to clear. There was about an hour left before it got dark.
We came to the next mountain. It was starting to get dark. We continued on until we could see nothing. We took out our sleeping bags and set up the tents. I was so tired when I lay dowen I fell asleep straight away. I set my alarm for five o’clock. I woke up at five minutes to five and turned off the alarm. I cut up the mink and I mixed it up with the last of my water. Then I woke up John and we ate. Afterwards we set off. We came to the next mountain. I brought the cattle and John opened the gate. We got them out the gate handily. After that my phone rang. It was my Dad. He asked “how many mountains have you left?” I said “four”. He said to hurry up and he would meet us at the last mountain. We came to the third last mountain with all the rams. We would be letting them out in two weeks. We were moving them on and I noticed the bull was bucking the donkey. John ran down and put a bit of rope over the donkeys head. He brought him up and the dog hopped up on top of him. The donkey didn’t mind him so we left him there. We came to the last hill. My father had the gate open and ran out. My father said “well done” to us. “There is a fry on for ye” he said. We went in and ate. We came out then and sorted them out. It took us a while. We were just finished when it got dark. I asked John to stay the night. He rang his mother and she said he could. I went inside and got my clothes out for tomorrow. I went to bed but I didn’t have to get up until seven o’clock. I went to sleep. I woke at seven and I was so excited. I got dressed and went downstairs. I ate and put on my boots. We walked the livestock down to the fair and put them into pins. There was just about everything at the fair. The auction came for the hill. We bought it and I was so happy. We sold some sheep and cattle and bought some as well. It was a great few days.
St. Patricks National School,
Ballinasloe, Co Galway