“The kittens never live long down here by the lake. When the Atlantic sweeps in it would put a chill down the spine of a grown man, never mind a little kitten…”
This is just a snippet of a conversation I had with an islander about his cats. Michael is the kind of man who likes to let the world get on with what it has to do. He does not believe in such things as computers, Facebook or even television. His life, to those who live in the outside world, is lonely and difficult; for he lives on an island on his own and with none of the modern technologies we have at our fingertips.
The slow burning range in his sparsely furnished kitchen radiates with heat as from a smouldering volcano. He has a comfortable fireside chair and his table is piled high with books. He is an avid reader of detective novels and spends most of his time reading . He is accompanied in his kitchen by the love of his life. She’s pretty and slender with startling green eyes. She arrived at his door many years ago on a cold winter’s night. He invited her in to warm herself to the fire… She fell in love and never left Michael’s side. They spent many a happy day and night together. Michael had someone to share his hopes, his dreams and his disappointments with, and she never judged him or asked him for anything.
Then Michael started to develop a few health problems and had to leave the island for a serious operation on the mainland. He was gone for a few months and when he returned the love of his life had given birth to a little family. Michael was devastated; his love did not recognise him anymore and was now mother to an unruly brood of her own near his house. Night after night Michael would call to her but she would not come to him. He left his door, and his heart, open for her to return… but she never came. The love of his life went on to establish a dynasty. She gathered waifs and strays, orphans and foundlings, to herself, displaying the same love as Michael showed to her. Through the years Michael saw her family grow while he maintained a lonely guardianship in the background.
Years later, the relationship between Michael and the love of his life started to get better. She is older now and tired. She still comes into his kitchen to warm herself by the fire. All her family join her and Michael loves and cares for them all. His great love still has shiny green eyes but they are beginning to dim with the pain of the passing years and the heavy burden she has borne. Season upon season, year following year, his love has given birth to more and more kittens. Michael does not know how many cats he really has… Maybe 20. Maybe 30. Perhaps even more than that.
Michael is now in his eighties and has only recently built a cat flap in his front door so that his children can enter at will for the food, warmth and comfort they find in this old man’s home. When I last met Michael, his Love was sitting on the fireside chair alongside him. An old man and an elderly lady entwined by the glow of a fire and the passing years of love.
We are going to Cape Clear again for 5 days of intensive trapping. Tom Farrington, vet in Rosscarberry, and Lesley Stinson, registered vet nurse, will arrive on Friday morning’s ferry to neuter and spay the cats. As you know by now this is a very expensive operation. Tom and Lesley have kindly donated their time and expertise to come and help us to create “Ireland’s First ‘Neutered’ Island”. Please help us to raise the funds needed by donating what you can (click here to access our Paypal link designated to the Cape Clear fund or you can visit our donation page for more options). Thanks for your support!
We would like to thank once more Mary O’Driscoll for sponsoring our accommodation on the island in one of the cottages and all the other islanders who are being so helpful: Seamus and the lads from Cape Clear Ferry, Duncan for lending us a car, Fiona for lending us her shed and all the others…