Anyone who has lost a parent will surely attest that it’s often the smallest things, the minute alterations that have to take place in the wake thereof which wallop the hardest. Having lost my da only three months ago, a plethora of examples could’ve been furnished here. However, though it might seem trivial, re-arranging my mode of transport has actually been a very raw emotional experience.
Not only as I’d spent a large part of the last 14 years in the silver VW Transporter meaning it was a familiar sight at nearly every GAA pitch and racecourse in the county and plenty around the country too. More than that though, Every farmer in the close and medium locality knew the silver bullet as well from years of the boss being docked outside our own yard doing the few bits that got him through his day.
Thus, at least trying to keep up those few bits up myself has been a very chastening task on the mind here. That said, while it could never be inferred that there was an upside to the situation, having upgraded the wheels recently, it has almost bequeathed a sense of adventure. As my lovely and eternally patient other half Susie seems more willing to bring yours truly to places the senior man could never be persuaded to venture.
Yes, that has included getting back to a few club games, race meetings will soon be back on the agenda while I’ve also had several days on new harvest chasing adventures, but perhaps it’s the sojourns outside of my comfort zone that have actually delivered greatest mirth. To spots such as The Range in Maynooth or Airfield Estate or Fairyhouse Sunday Market or indeed the Clanard Court Hotel in Athy for a poignant and belated celebration for mother’s 80th birthday.
However, as far as new adventures go, last night I do believe the jackpot was resoundingly hit. What was a considerable hunger was cut down to size after a splendid evening was whiled away in what is an iconic local ale house – The Hatchet Inn. This rural hidden gem has had many incarnations over the years and though I’d never frequented the renowned local hostelry previously, my da and uncle Billy would’ve been fairly regular visitors when the world was a different and perhaps better place.
Anyway, I can tell you that while Tuesday may have been my maiden swing at The Hatchet, it absolutely will not be my last. From the perspective of a disabled patron, I could not speak highly enough of the premises itself or – even more so – the magnificent, attentive and understanding staff. On arrival at the Barstown, Dunboyne establishment, the first noticeable thing was the completely flat entrance from the carpark to the lounge and the width of corridors and doorways.
Being in a wheelchair, it’s second nature to look for things which, to another patron wouldn’t cause an eyelid to be batted. In terms of eating out, the height and width of the tables take priority over most other issues. On that score, the O’Shea family and their team deserve the utmost commendation. Now, something like this is utterly subjective as not only is every disability different there’s no such thing as a universal wheelchair either. So I can only comment in view of my own circumstances. On that score however, The Hatchet was as good as this writer has come across in a very long time.
That, mind you, would only divulge a modicum of the story. One of the things about eating out of which yours truly is most concious is dining on stuff that stuff which won’t make a mess and/or cause a scene. Often that means passing up the desired cuisine. No such worries here though.
When we arrived, having been situated at our table, after a perusal of the extensive menu, it was fantastic to be able to go for the Soup of the Day because the excellent floor staff very kindly put it into my travel mug. Not only that, but when it came to the main course, an inquiry came from the chef as to whether anything could be done to make negotiation of same. And, true to their word, when the suggestion was proposed it was done to a tee.
Which brings me nicely to the grub itself. The carrot, parsnip and coconut milk soup was well worth bringing the soup mug along for. And again, major kudos to The Hachet staff when it came to the main course.
On most occasions when eating out, beef dishes tend to be avoided due to the difficulty there can be in physically eating the meat. Through no fault of the product or those who prepared same, it must quickly be added. Simply another odd quirk of living with my disability.
However, there were no such concerns here, as what I can only describe as an 8oz lump of beefy Heaven – though described as a burger – arrived out, minus bun and already cut up for me, with pepper sauce and all the trimmings of delectable steak disguised as a burger.
Though it might seem unlikely, even after all of the preceding, what really topped off the evening for yours truly was literally the ‘style’ of the premises. Allow me to explain. For reasons which I’ve never even been able to design myself, I’ve sometimes been happier in the company of the older generation than my own age group, in the pub at least. An old head on young-ish shoulders.
Especially when it comes to farming and country customs and sporting events of yore. The ploughing with horses, cocking of hay and the reaper and binder for the harvest. In that sense, to me at least, The Hatchet represented the quintessential country pub. Feelings only heightened by some of the decor photographed above. And that was only some of the snaps taken, see @this_disabled_life on Instagram for more.
The hope now would be that the charity Tractor Run which had become a popular and well supported annual event in the locality until Covid-19 imposed chaos on the world will return some day soon. This writer certainly will.