There was a story in the news last year that has stayed with me for its tragedy and cruelty… not just for those who lost their lives but for the one who was left behind. The names have been changed.
Kate had inherited a farm in County Cork from her family and lived there with her husband, Padraig and two grown sons, Michael and Sean. The family didn’t work the farm themselves but leased the land out to local farmers. The two sons had attended university and were working in their respective careers in nearby towns. Kate was experiencing a health issue and needed to have an operation from which she would need time to recover. She had recently made her will, just in case.
There were signs that things weren’t too good at home. Rather than come back to the farm after the surgery, Kate elected to stay with friends along with her older son Michael, who would nurse her back to health. When, finally she was well enough to come home, she and Michael returned to the farm where Padraig and Sean were waiting. After dinner and a bit of television, Kate went to bed early.
In the early morning, with the sun just coming up, Kate awoke to the sound of gunshots. Terrified, she ran from the room and found Michael in his bed, covered in blood. Neither Padraig nor Sean were in the house. In a panic, she fled to her nearest neighbor who called the police. When they arrived, they found Michael dead and began to search the farm for the two missing men.
They found Padraig and Sean in one of the fields. Both men were dead and a shotgun lay between them. A lengthy note was found on the body of Sean. In it he detailed the anger that he and his father felt at the favoritism Kate showed to her older son. They knew what she had written in her will. She had left the farm to Michael. It was never clear who shot whom, but the father and son had formed a murder suicide pact. And the note said, they had agreed to let Kate live so that she would live out her life in suffering over the loss of her beloved Michael.
In this strange and twisted tale, two men got their revenge but they paid in the most extreme and pointless way. Sparing a life just to provoke and prolong suffering and grief. And now, nobody gets the farm.
Let me begin by saying de gustibus non disputandum est —in matters of taste there can be no dispute. However, I am puzzled by the way the Irish make their burgers.
The beef in this country is the freshest, most delicious I have ever tasted in my life. [apologies vegetarians] When I cook it at home I always marvel at the difference between this beef and the offering in the States. It is light years better. Despite this superior quality meat, I have been regularly surprised by the Irish burger. Every restaurant, with the exception of fast food establishments, makes their burgers with fillings. As in, bread crumbs, egg, seasonings and possibly other ingredients like chopped onion or chilies. To me this is meatloaf or a meatball like you would make to go with spaghetti, not a burger!
I was confused when a friend asked me what I put in my burgers. “What do you mean?” I said. “Nothing! A little salt and freshly ground pepper on the outside and then throw it on the grill!“ I have even seen my friends post social media pics of their ‘burger recipes’. Photos of a bunch of stuff going into the food processor that will be added to the ground beef [beef mince as its called here] and then fried or grilled on the barbecue. And it looks like a huge production for what should be the simplest and most tasty of sandwiches. Pinterest, I discovered, is loaded with ‘burger recipes’. This is astonishing! What’s my burger recipe? Meat. End of story.
Maybe I am the oddball… maybe its just a regional Pennsylvania thing? I doubt it though. I can’t remember ever having a meatloaf style burger in a restaurant outside Ireland. However, as I said in the beginning, tastes are personal. So if that’s how you like your burgers Ireland, who am I to complain? I’ll just have to remember when I go a restaurant, that what I get on the bun is not going to be what I am accustomed to. Or, you know, just order the fish and chips!
Ireland has given me lovely scenes to paint. I’ve had to rely on photos since we’ve been under a 5km [3 mile] limit on travel since December. But now we are free to move about so I hope to get to see more of my adopted country this summer. Here are some of my latest pieces —the only creative things I’ve indulged in during the last few months.