Horse & Hound

23 Jan 2012

{As published in Irish Country Living 19.1.12}

Last Wednesday morning started out unremarkably. When I was heading home from my countryside Pilates class, I decided to take a different route, just to add some color to the start of the day. I should have known when I passed two large trailers on the road labeled HORSES that something was afoot, but still getting the hang of things around here, I simply didn’t put two and two together.

Suddenly, I found myself in a cavalcade of slow moving vehicles, all of us inching down the small lane together. I thought it might have been a funeral procession so I remained patient and respectful as I lurched along with the rest.  When there was finally a fork in the road, I turned off thinking I could get home more quickly. This detour is also the pretty narrow lane that cuts through the maize land that our farm grows each season.

Just when I was gaining some time, cars lining either side of the passageway stopped me abruptly. I sat idling, trying to figure out what was going on, when out of nowhere a massive stream of redcoats on horseback with a herd of hunting dogs came trotting across the road only inches from the front of my car.

I immediately rang Richard to let him know what was happening. He and his brother were visiting another farm up the country so he hung up and quickly rang the home farm to alert his father or mother so they could rush down and see what exactly was going on.

I sat in the car as the last of the horses and hounds crossed the road and proceeded to jump the hedge and head into the land on the other side. One man with a scraggly beard stood there holding a burlap bag. He looked to me like he was overseeing the group. At one point, he shot me a curious look.  I looked away, trying not to make eye contact.

I was in shock. I have heard about the hunt, I’ve even seen a group of hunters from afar, but I’ve never been so up close and personal. Despite the stunning beauty of the horses, it was daunting and, to be honest, a bit overwhelming to me. And above all, they were carrying on with their hunt on the farm’s land without permission, which seemed so disrespectful.

Each year, our farm and others post notices in the local newspapers so that the hunt groups know which town lands are private and forbidden to hunt upon. Signs go up everywhere in our community, but still, year after year, the hunt groups show up determined to do as they please.

Soon, both my mother and father-in-law came along, and eventually the road cleared. Roughly an hour after I decided to take that more colourful route, I was finally on my merry way home. I have spent a good bit of time in my life sitting in rush hour traffic, but never of the horse and hound variety!

I leave you with one of our favourite tea time treats, the coffee swiss roll. Nothing fancy, not too sweet, and I don’t think I’ve been in a rural Irish bakery that didn’t have one of these on hand. Here is our local recipe if you want to give it a try.

Coffee Swiss Roll

For the cake:

3 eggs, separated

3 oz plain flour, sifted

3 oz sugar

1tsp baking powder

1 tbsp coffee extract (Irel or Camp works well)

For the Filling:

250g double cream

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp coffee extract

Preheat oven to 180c/350f

Prepare a swiss/jelly roll tin with greased parchment paper

Beat egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until stiff.

Keeping beating and add the egg yolks followed by the sugar until you have a light creamy foam.

Very lightly fold in the flour, not all at once, in 2 or 3 batches.

Gently fold in the coffee and mix together.

Carefully spread into tin.

Bake for 10 – 15 mins until just firm to touch.

Put a clean tea towel on a cooling tray, tip the cake out onto tray, remove parchment paper and use tea towel to roll up cake. Leave to cool completely.

Whisk the cream with sugar and coffee until stiff.

Unroll the cake, spread on the filling and roll up again.

Trim the ends

Dredge with icing or caster sugar.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen

Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012


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14 Responses to “Horse & Hound”

  1. Elmo Collaer says:

    please don’t stop doing blogs i like reading them.

  2. Nessa Robins says:

    Imen this totally frustrates me. How dare anyone think that they have the right to plough through someone else’s land, knocking down mearning and damaging the field. I can’t believe that one would have to go to the trouble of actually posting it in the paper that they can’t access the land. Surely it should be the hunt that should look for the permission. The ignorance of these people is scandalious! I also thought that trespassers could be prosecuted even in such a case. I’ll have to ask around and see can I find out anything more.
    As always your cakes look delicious. 🙂

  3. jd collins says:

    So, did you in-laws have a “chat” with a “redcoat” concerning the trespass? I would be curious to know why they thought they were entitled to hunt your land.

    Love your blog!

  4. Marika says:

    You’ve every right to be mad about this: I would be absolutely enraged, on so many levels–the senseless brutality in the name of sport, the inherent disrespect of the trespassing, ugh! It makes me so mad. I would love to see the issue brought to light. Love the cake 🙂

    • imen says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree as well about the senseless brutality. Maybe it’s me seeing things through a different lens, but I just don’t get it. Which is fine as long as we don’t have to contend with it on our farmland. It’s one thing to hunt game to eat….The cake is yummy, give it a try! xx

  5. Krista says:

    Wow! That would be startling to find that on your land – especially without your permission!! We had someone come on our land uninvited last night and it’s an unsettling feeling. This coffee roll sounds divine! My man has been begging for coffee desserts of late, so I’ll have to make this one. 🙂

    • imen says:

      Hi Krista, the funny thing is that I know that they come every year, I just never experienced it firsthand and in my face. This city girl was shook! The coffee roll is lovely, hope you try it. Thanks for commenting. xx

  6. @nenonumama says:

    I have often thought Ireland would benefit from a right to roam, like in Sweden, but that comes with obligations of respect and sadly, respect is something very much lacking in Irish people, be they graffiti taggers or a local hunt. We have a long way to go in this country to come anywhere close our European neighbours on that issue. My father in law regularly has interlopers hunting hares on his small pocket of land. He likes the hares, despite them eating garden plants on a regular basis!

    • imen says:

      Interesting thought Laura…right to roam and respect. For me, I just see it through such a different lens….can’t understand why trespassing under these circumstances isn’t prosecuted, very odd to me. As far as the actual sport, I don’t get it, seems archaic, but so do many more things of the same nature so that is not really the big issue for me. Going against the wishes of the landowner is disrespectful. At least the cake does take the edge off a bit =)

  7. Theresa says:

    As soon as one of us sees the hunt out we ring around to warn people . We need to get our animals and dogs in and close the gates -still doesnt stop them traipsing where they please .We’ve had them all through our woods and using our pond as a horse swimming pool. We also have to check our Badger Setts regularily as the hunt send people in to block them up with plastic fertiliser bags filled with sand to stop the foxes using them as bolt holes. I get sooooo mad.

    • imen says:

      Wow Theresa! Blocking your badger setts? I would love to get the bottom of why people think they can do this….I MUST be missing something here!???? There were many letters the journal last week good/bad, I know it would be somewhat controversial, but not that kind of response. I am sorry that you experience this year after year as well!

  8. Móna Wise says:

    It is steeped in tradition Imen, this hunting business. We live in the middle of the hunt lands too, and even if we were to deny them access they would still go with the flow and follow the fox. You know, there is that old saying ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’…maybe they would stop in for tea and cakes next year ;0)

    • imen says:

      But, Mona they are not just following the fox….they specifically start the hunt on this land year after year without permission, without even making contact and asking. No thanks, I don’t care to join them or have them for tea.

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