The Queen of the Show

I’m 93 years old and still living on my own. Fields of sheep surround my wee cottage up the mountain. I just had yer man move the rams out of the flock of ewes and lambs. My mammy’s shawl warms my shoulders as I sit in the lounge looking out the window at the rams in the west pasture. They’re peaceful, so they are. One slept next to the fence all day. It’s no wonder. They’ve been busy for a fortnight or more. If I looked out the window behind me, I’d see the ewes and lambs in the pasture across the road. Straight ahead is the dresser full it is with trophies I won for my sheep.

Just a lass I was 80 years ago in the year 1936 when I had my first show. My brother Pete was laid up when he run the plow over his own feet. How’d he did it he never said. I think it was the drink. My da said it’s you that’s got to show the sheep this year. They haven’t lifted the ban they put on me the years ago when I showed up falling down drunk and singing Roddy McCorley at the top of my lungs and kissing all the lassies in sight.

To tell the truth, I was kind of put off by having to show the sheep. I’d already entered for cookery and flower arranging. That’s what I wanted to do. My da said for me to put that out of my mind. You going to be Little Bo Peep at the show.

If it’s Little Bo Beep I had to be it’s Little Bo Peep I will be. I sewed myself a Little Bo Peep white dress with blue trim and a bonnet to match. I cleaned and polished the shepherd’s crook the old fella left in the derelict shed. I polished up my lips with bees wax tinted with beet root and rubbed a bit on my cheeks. I dabbed my poor dead ma’s rose water behind my ears, under my arms, and in back of my knees. The old curling iron got a workout as I twisted my tresses in blonde-streaked curls.

I was the only person of the female persuasion who showed sheep that day. In fact, I was the first ever. Seamus McSorley said something about girls not being suited to showing sheep. I said, Where’s the law about that? The other lads laughed. That was the end of it.

Wasn’t I the queen of the show? I never did know if it was the sheep or me that earned the grand prize. I got best in show, all right. The show committee picked me for Little Miss Farmerette, too. My photo was in the Leitrim Observer the next day holding two trophies. Ach, I was famous, so I was.