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by Grainne Rowland
Long ago in Ireland lived a boy named Taggart. He went to Druid school. But he never studied the differences between plants. He wouldn't learn the secrets of Nature. He only wanted to play ball. His teachers were becoming very impatient with Taggart.
So Taggart ran away. For two long days, he wandered in the dark forest. Because he hadn't learned about Nature, he didn't know which foods he could eat. Hungry and tired, Taggart finally went to sleep in the opening of a small cave.
When he awoke in the morning, a short person was looking at him. This small creature had long dark hair and blue eyes. His lips looked like a raspberry. He wore a blue tunic with a green sash and stood in violet velvet shoes.
There was a red feather in his blue hat. The small person looked at Taggart and smiled.
"Come with me. I will take you to a place where you won't have to go to school."
Taggart giggled with glee and followed the good person. They went through the cave for a long way. Finally, Taggart saw a dim light ahead of him. The light became brighter and brighter.
When they came out of the cave, Taggart saw a beautiful world. The trees were covered with silver leaves and ripe fruit. The flowers were of every color, and some colors Taggart had never seen. Hundreds of the good people were playing games with golden balls. Some were riding on Irish wolfhounds. Others were eating wonderful foods and drinking colorful drinks. Taggart looked around but he saw no one studying.
Taggart's guide took him to the king of the country. The king welcomed Taggart, and told him he could play as he pleased in the good people's country.
So Taggart played and played. His favorite game was "Throw and Run" with the golden balls. He tossed the balls and raced with his new friends every day.
But one day Taggart started to miss his mother. So the good people guided him through the cave to his home.
Taggart's mother was so happy to see him! She cried and hugged him! She cooked all his favorite foods. Taggart had to tell her about all his adventures.
Taggart's mother was very interested in the golden balls. She asked him to bring one of the balls when next he visited. Taggart agreed.
After many weeks back in the land of the good people, Taggart again asked to return home. This time, the good people gave Taggart a magic light to guide him through the cave. Taggart slipped a golden ball into his pocket and started off.
As he stepped out of the cave into his world, Taggart heard a loud roar behind him. Before he could reach his mother's house, he was knocked down. The magic light fell out of his hand. His pocket was torn off and the golden ball was taken back from him. Taggart heard the good people yell, "Thief! Thief!" He felt them hit him with blades of grass. Then they were gone.
From that day on, Taggart could never again find the cave that led back to the good people's land. He gave up searching for it. Instead, Taggart went back to school and studied hard. Taggart's teachers gave him prizes for his excellent work. His mother was proud of him. Taggart grew up to be responsible and hard-working. But he never saw the good people again!
Note: Do you suppose if Taggart had asked permission to show a golden ball to his mother, the good people whould have said yes?
An Arch Druid in his judicial habit - artist unknown, from Barewalls Photos & Prints
From Google images
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Wed, Jan 3, 2018
FOTA Wildlife Park
Only 10,000 cheetahs remain in their natural habitat and Fota Wildlife Park in Co. Cork, Ireland, is the world's leading breeder of this endangered species. Fota is among the most modern wildlife parks in Europe. It was opened in 1983 and has more than 70 species living in natural open surroundings with no obvious barriers. Only the cheetahs are behind fences.
Another species which is being saved from extinction at Fota is the white tailed sea eagle. It disappeared from Ireland in the early 1900's, but is now being bred at the park and re-introduced to the wild in Co. Kerry.
Fota is open to the public in the summer and is very popular with Irish families, as well as tourists.
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"No man ever wore a cravat as nice, as his own child's arm around his neck."
- Irish Proverb