Dolcorsllwyn Fabio and the fable of the humble farmer

Tuesday, 21 February, 2012

The Irish expression “to put on the poor mouth” (an béal bocht a chur ort), refers to the practice, often associated with small farmers, of inflating life’s hardships to evoke compassion, charity, the restraint of creditors and the generosity of state agencies. An Béal Bocht (The Poor Mouth) is a surreal, hilarious and mesmerizing novel by Brian O’Nolan aka Flann O’Brien, published in 1941 under the pseudonym Myles na gCopaleen, which depicts the squalid poverty that results from Ireland’s persistent “sky-crucifyings” (torrential rain). The Welsh and the English have not managed to produce art of a similar kind, perhaps due to lack of hammering rain, but their farmers resemble their Irish counterparts in that their avarice for EU subsidies knows no limits.

The fable of the humble farmer, pitted in a constant struggle with the elements in an effort to eke out a subsistence livelihood, took a bit of a knock at the weekend when Dolcorsllwyn Fabio, a bull owned by Glyn Vaughan of Machynlleth sold for a record 120,000gns (£126,000) to Alan Jenkinson of Penrith during the Harrison & Hetherington cattle sale at Carlisle in Wales. The three-hour sale saw more than £1 million worth of top quality bulls changing hands, so the next time you meet a farmer putting on the poor mouth, tell him the tale of Dolcorsllwyn Fabio.

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