An Irish sojourn for Jo Foster

The Yorkshire Post's Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.
The Yorkshire Post's Country Week columnist Jo Foster. Picture by Tony Johnson.
Have your say

I’m on a high after recently returning from a few days away in Ireland mixing work with pleasure. It feels like I’ve lived a lifetime since I was last over in the Emerald Isle, so much has happened in the last seven months.

I landed at Dublin with a full list of people to visit so I hired a car, turned up the music and set off southwards to the beautiful Wicklow countryside. It was a warm clear morning; the country roads were virtually empty barring the odd tractor.

I wasn’t in a rush, it was good to be away. I stopped to breathe in the spectacular view. Spring had splashed the valley with every shade of green on her palate and scattered it with golden sunshine. I felt relaxed and truly happy for the first time in months.

I love being on my own but sometimes the loneliness catches me off guard. Like opening the flood gates, memories pour out with all their pain and I am suddenly bent over double, unable to breath. It feels like I am swamped in a swirling pit of heartache.

Then moments later, like water evaporating in the sun, the feeling vanishes. I can breathe and be my happy self again. The mind has its own way of coping I guess.

I arrived at my friend Paddy’s yard mid-morning to find every-thing a hive of activity. We were all going to Punchestown races later in the day but there was time enough to watch a few ‘lots’ work, catch up with the lads, inspect some horses I had come to buy and visit the new foals before sitting down to enjoy breakfast at a local café. I grabbed a shower and we dashed off to Punchestown.

I last set foot on the course 21 years ago as a young, eager and naïve girl full of big dreams and driving determination. Little did I realise then what a crazy and exciting journey lay ahead.

At the races I bumped in to half of Yorkshire, most of whom were getting stuck in to the Guinness.

The festival, which draws to a close the Irish National Hunt season, is incredibly popular with the English who make up 70 per cent of the overall crowd. The day seemed to pass in a flash. I sat in the owners’ and trainers’ bar with a fresh glass of the dark stuff thrust in to my hand every few minutes by random strangers. I have a pocket full of telephone numbers offered with a “call in when yar passin” or “I’ve just da horse ya need…”

In the evening we ventured to a nearby restaurant with some of Paddy’s fun owners and his brother Rory, a mastermind at breeding show jumpers and telling an entertaining story with a cheeky glint in his eye. That evening my head barely hit the pillow before I fell sound asleep…