The man Jones

‘The man Jones he lived up in an old stone cabin by the copper mines at Gortavellig. You’ll only have been there when its summer and the sun has been shining and even then there can be a tough wind that blows in from the sea. But you be there in the winter and although you may be a hundred foot up from the bottom of the cliffs the sea will still get there it hits so hard. The wind it comes in, it has nowhere else to go and it can be bleak up there and hard. You need a particular mind to stay there for long when its dark and the wind is up. The old mines, the holes in the rock Christ it can howl through there and the noise it makes can be heard for good miles round.’

‘Jones, he scrapped out some ground from the rocks and grew his potatos and greens. You know the pond there. The miners they built it up from lumps of rock and plugged it with moss and a hundred years it has been there. Filled with rain mostly but you could hardly call it fresh water given what gets blown in from the sea but it is enough to live on I guess. But you know how salt water will send a man mad. I’m not saying it was enough to send him mad but the spume and foam that blows up there would weaken the mind. Feck you’d need a weak mind to live there.’

‘You can’t see it now but he had a tidy piece of ground. And in the summer he would walk back from there to Bantry on a Friday for the market. He’d not much to sell but they say he’d set himself down with a bag of leeks or onions and he’d sell enough for the day.’

‘Now I know its a long walk but you can do it in a day you get off early and be ready to get back late. The road down the northside well its always been there and it runs straight if you let it down by the sea.’

‘But what he had up there was goats. He got two of them on a Friday, the market in Bantry, and he walked them back that night. And goats being goats soon he had a small number of them up there. They say he talked to them and he had a path to take them down to the rocks at low tide so they could eat at the seaweed. A goat will eat at anything if you let it. He drank their milk and made a bit of cheese and every year he would sell some of the young goats at market.’

‘The cheese he’d wrap in small leaves he found in the hills and he’d let it go old and hard in some small cut he had in the rocks there. It’d break your teeth my grandfather said but it kept Jones going when there wasn’t much else to be eaten.’

‘Have you ever eaten goat now. I heard they eat it places but not often here. He said they had them at home where he came from in Wales. Now my grandfather said you never ate anything as good as those goats. It was the legs that were best. They had to be cooked slow but get it right they were the best piece of meat he ever had.’

‘There’s goats up on the top by Seefin still if you look quickly enough and I reckon they still eat at the seaweed. Now some there’s been they’ve tried to follow the path Jones took them down  to the sea but he hid it up well. I say we should leave well alone and Jones’ goats can carry on as they are.’

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