Life and Death on the Farm Atop the Hill: A Story of an Irish Cailleach | S.2 Ep.8
There’s a long, strange tradition in Irish mythology and folklore in which a powerful man tries to steal a valuable cow from an old woman (cailleach). Maybe it’s not so strange… It’s just one more example of how independent older women are considered a threat to the status quo.
Marisa Goudy tells the story of Mona, the Cailleach who lived upon a hill that bore her name (Cnoc na Móna/Knocknamona). The original tale, found in a footnote in an 1860 publication of the Ossianic Society, a translation of a medieval Irish manuscript called the Imtheacht na Tromdhaimhe, includes few details. Marisa’s version imagines a new ending for tale that originally ends in a wise woman’s murder and the slaughter of a sacred cow.
Lee Rankin is a farmer and founder of Apple Hill Farm, a successful and award-winning first-generation farm in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. She is an advocate for farmers through her leadership and involvement at a local and state level. She speaks, teaches and consults frequently as a first-generation woman farmer on the topic of alpacas, entrepreneurship, and the benefits of diversifying your farm portfolio through agritourism.
Lee is the author of Cookin' Up a Storm, The Life and Recipes of Annie Johnson now in its second edition. She is currently looking for a home for her memoir, Farm Family, the story of her journey of starting Apple Hill Farm as a solo Mom.
- The power of being a woman with animals and land. In Lee’s experience where the majority of farmers are men, she’s so aware of the feminine expression of her farming, including a spiritual, sacred sense of “knowing.”
- Choosing when to preserve and when to innovate, as storytellers and as famers.
- Preserving the Randall Lineback breed of cattle; there are only 1000 across the US.
- Lee’s story of moving to what would become her alpaca farm in Appalachia with her one year-old son and a golden retriever.
- Stories of animal rescues, and also of animal passages.
- A powerful reframe on death and how this story could have ended as the original version did, with the death of Mona and the cow. Our desire to sanitize the death parts and give everyone a happy ending.
- This episode pairs so well with Laura Murphy’s story of the goddess Boinn who was closely associated with cattle and the concept of imbas forosnai, the inspiration that illuminates. (S.2 Ep.7).
Music at the start of the show is by Beth Sweeney and Billy Hardy, a Celtic Fiddle and multi-instrumental duo based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The traditional Irish reel we play at the start of the show is called "The College Groves." billyandbeth.com
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