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,


Photos and Styling by Imen McDonnell 2012

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