Sweat and spuds or luck and leprechauns?


Mounding potatoes at Knocknaheeny Community Garden. The food center is open to all and is volunteer-based. Photo Maria Kalaitzandanokes

Caitlyn McGuire

CORK – Ireland: As I mound the potatoes in Knocknaheeny Community Garden, I can’t help but picture myself as a potato farmer in the 1800’s.

Callused hands, tense shoulders, sore back: there had to be a better way.

While many would say tough luck, a man by the name of Jamie O’Rourke refused to put up with it.

A Story of Irish Folklore:

O’Rourke was the laziest man in all of Ireland, he avoided any type of labor like it was the plague. He especially took great effort in avoiding anything evolving around growing potatoes.

His wife was sick of his nonsense, and was forced to work up all the potatoes just to ensure there was food on the table for her and her good-for-nothing husband. Her hard work caught up with her, and she became ill.

Jamie grew worried, if his wife was bed-ridden then who would manage the potatoes? No potatoes, no food. He took to the church to pray for a cure. On his journey to the church, he came across a leprechaun. Jamie snatched the leprechaun and demanded for his pot of gold. The leprechaun convinced Jamie that what he truly needed was a magic potato seed.

Jamie, once he got home, planted the seed and when he awoke he saw the largest potato ever. The potato was so massive that it lifted the garden shed and the corner of the house as it grew.

O’Rourke, with a little help from the luck of the Irish, brought food to his family and his entire village, without barely lifting a finger.

As I sit here with crackling shoulders and tender hands from work at Knocknaheeny, I can say that maybe Jamie had the right idea. I suppose, however, until I see a leprechaun that there’s no way around grasping a shovel and working potatoes.


New potato at Knocknaheeny Community Garden. Photo by Caitlyn McGuire



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Filed under MU School of Journalism, Science ad Agricultual Journalism

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