This gorgeous, leaf-shaped, fused glass platter was inspired by many a long, sunny stroll in Ballynahinch woods.
When my wife Pauline and I first arrived in Connemara, one of our first actions was to get a dog. Sally, as we named her, was a Golden Retriever and she lived to the great age (for her breed) of seventeen years. Frequently when she was young – and, in her later years, as often as her aches and pains allowed – we loved to take Sally for a walk in the grounds of Ballynahinch Castle. Allowed to run, jump and snuffle in the woody leaf cover, the dog’s expression told you she was ecstatic, in her element.
When she was young and sinuous, Sally would get hot and tired with all the exertion. To cool off, she’d dive into the river Owenglen, to swim strongly against the stream. Cool once more, Sal would spring out onto the bank, then shake herself vigorously, to bound off once more, exploring.
While at the same time keeping a watchful eye out for Sally’s antics, we were able to enjoy the leafy shade of the pathways and avenues throughout Ballynahinch woods. The sun (should we be fortunate) would stream through the trees and create dappled patterns on the paths and undergrowth. If it were raining (and it often was) the trees would afford luxurious shelter from the drips – until a great rush of wind would come along and cause a huge shower to fall from on high!
All this time, we maintained an abiding fascination for the incredible variety of leaf shapes to be encountered on such a walk. Every species of tree, shrub, bush, flower and plant imaginable seemed to flourish in the richly carpeted woods at Ballynahinch.
Now that Sally has sadly left us, we still wander from time to time in Ballynahinch woods. Her loss was unbearable at first. But now, some years on, a walk in Ballynahinch woods is accompanied by beautiful memories of our faithful Sal, running and snuffling, diving and swimming, or (as she did later in life) simply strolling along.
Of course, the leaves return, year on year, bursting with new life and energy each springtime, reminding us that this was Sally’s favourite season – and her favourite place, too.