16 August 2015 No Comments by The Northern Standard

By Veronica Corr

Monaghan Heritage Week 2015 was introduced in lively fashion on Thursday evening last, August 6th, with an event called ‘Pull the Flax for Laragh Linen,’ the brainchild of Laragh Heritage Community Group.

This project was chosen by Monaghan County Council as the platform to launch Heritage Week locally and the event was officiated by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys.

A field beside the Meeting House on the N2 was the highly-visible location where the flax was grown and it was the first time in over fifty years the crop was sown in the county.

The launch appeared to have universal appeal as a great crowd of young and older people gathered to try their hand at harvesting this traditional crop.

Incidentally, the reason the crop harvesting was chosen to launch Heritage Week is because flax/linen is part of Laragh’s industrial history.

This fact dovetailed beautifully with this year’s Heritage Week theme: “From mill to forge, from mind to hand — discovering Ireland’s Industrial past,” which the Heritage Minister made reference to in her speech.

Shirley Clerkin, Heritage Officer with Monaghan County Council kicked things off by inviting people to have a go at pulling the flax themselves.

The public was also encouraged to have a go at braiding rushes to tie around the flax before it was stooked (stood on end). There were experienced people on hand to demonstrate both pulling and stooking.

Shirley explained that flax is meant to be pulled a month after it flowered, and that’s precisely what Laragh Heritage did.

The flax started flowering on July 8th and Laragh Heritage Secretary Paula McCaul paid a very touching tribute to Martin Daly, a founding member of Laragh Heritage Community Group, who died that very day.

Before Paula led everyone present in a minute’s silence she said that Martin had sent down the sunshine on the day of his passing. With tears in her eyes Paula described her late friend as “invaluable” and as being “the essence of sense.”

Budding photographer Evelyn McCaul, Paula’s daughter, had a lovely postcard for sale featuring the delicate blue flax flower.

Renowned biologist, environmental consultant, radio and television presenter, author and educator Éanna Ní Lamhna was present at the launch. The Louth woman was extremely personable and warm.

Éanna said that when she was young there was a linen factory in Drogheda. Linen was very expensive then, and it still is, she observed.

Fortunately however, her mother had the inside…


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