A king by your own fireside


A king by your own fireside

We all have many happy memories of the pre-television days, when on a cold winter evening the whole family would gather around the fire …

Thursday, 14 March 2013
6:35 AM GMT

There is a famous quote by the Spanish writer Miguel Cervantes which goes; You are a king by your own fireside, as much as any king upon his throne. We all have many happy memories of the pre-television days, when on a cold winter evening the whole family would gather around the fire, the parents with the Cork Examiner and the children with their books.

A special treat on Saturday night was the Cork Weekly Examiner with its stories and poems, sometimes with contributions from local writers such as Mary Madame Hickey, Michael Barry and Maurice Geaney. At the time in our house in Cork Road, we had a small wood-burning stove; it had an enamel front with a four inch pipe coming out of the top of it and it was here that I loved to read my books, Treasure Island, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and all about the adventures of William Brown and his band of Outlaws, I still read all these books to this day, they have never lost their magic.

The fire would be down to its last glowing embers, before the sleepy eyes began to close. What is it that attracts us to our fire, is it some instinct that lies embedded in us from the past?. When I was very small, I would be sent to my granny’s house in the country for a week every Summer, she had a big open fireplace, I used to love to spin the fire-wheel and see the flames go shooting up the chimney.

To this day I can still remember the sweet smell of burning furze, these would be cut from the haggard and left to dry, they made excellent fuel, which brings me to the question, what is the best wood to burn on an open fire? Perhaps the answer can be found in the lines of the following poem;


Beechwood fires are bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year,

Chestnuts only good they say,

If for logs ’tis laid away,

Make a fire of elder tree,

Death within your house will be,

But Ash new or ash old,

Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast

Blaze up bright and do not last,

It is by the Irish said,

Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.

Elm wood burns like a

churchyard mould,

E’en the very flames are cold

But ash green or Ash brown

Is fit for a queen with golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,

Fills your eyes and makes you choke,

Apple wood will scent your room

Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom

Oaken logs, if dry and old

keep away the winter’s cold

But ash wet or ash dry

A king shall warm his slippers by.

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