Swans in the rushes

Walking with  my sister and her dogs along Aller Drove on Sedgemoor, a hissing noise told us we were drawing too close to swans and cygnets.

‘Did I tell you the tale of the swan and the taxidermist?

My sister looked mystified.

It was on a visit to the Western Front that I sat with friends in a dining room table at a hotel in Cambrai.  A man beside me said he knew that the woman who sat opposite us was from Ringsend in Dublin. He would explain how he remembered.

Driving from his Co Laois farm one morning, he had noticed a swan lying in a field beside the river. Walking across a field to investigate, he discovered the bird had flown into the high tension cables that crossed the land.

It was a fine specimen of a bird and it would be a pity simply to leave it to rot, but he believed that the bird was the property of the State, so to take the bird to a taxidermist would require a permit.

Gathering up the dead swan, he drove to the Garda barracks and explained that he believed that only the President’s office could give permission for him to keep the bird.

The sergeant at the barracks was sceptical about the need for a permit, but made the necessary inquiries and the next day telephoned to say that the swan could be kept.

Finding a taxidermist proved to be a challenge. There was word of one in Castle Street in Dublin. He drove his truck to the city centre but a man who had lived in the area all his life had never heard of anyone there doing such work.

Returning to Laois, disappointed, he heard of there being a taxidermist in Co Clare.

The man in Clare did a wonderful job, the swan was mounted with its wings spread and its neck stretched forward. The return journey with the bird had been made with it on the passenger seat of the truck.

Oncoming motorists were confronted with the sight of a swan that seemed to be flying towards them from inside the cab of a lorry.

‘Anyway,’  said the man, ‘I found out afterwards that there was a taxidermist I could have gone to down in Ringsend. That’s how I remembered you were from Ringsend yourself’.

There was loud laughter around the table.

There was laughter along Aller Drove.  Hopefully, the swans had not heard our conversation.


This entry was posted in Out and about. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Swans in the rushes

  1. james higham says:

    That passed the time pleasantly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *