Have ye shod any geese lately?

The late Peter Sloan of Bavan, Omeath – a native Gaelic speaker – told many a yarn and most of them true. 

There was a great deal of commerce, in those days and that region, in geese – a creature you’d not see now in a month of Sundays. Aye, you’ll remember the old rhyme ..

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat

Please put a penny in the old man’s hat

If you haven’t got a penny

A ha’penny will do

If you haven’t got a ha’penny

God bless you.

It was the appearance of a white, downy feather on my sofa brought all this to mind – for these poultry were prized then also for their feathers.

Peter recalled walking geese all the way from Cookstown, County Tyrone to the Newry markets.

They had to be ‘shod’ first for the long journey.

No! I’m serious!

Peter explained.

Tar was spilled on to a road and the geese were made to walk in that tar which adhered to their webbed feet. Then they were made to walk over a spillage of sand – which adhered to the tar. That was them shod!


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