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By Midge Lyndee
Book Review 

Yee Haw! Giddyup!

The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment

 

March 2, 2024



It's time again for green beer, Irish butter and corned beef with cabbage, or for non-meat eaters, maybe a lovely veggie platter of potatoes, cabbage and carrots garnished with parsley and pearl onions.

Yes, St. Patrick's Day has arrived. The wearing of the green comes with leprechauns and perhaps a sprinkling of fairies. Or maybe cowboys.

I did cover Irish cowboys a few years back, but as with many good books, revisiting with a new eye brings a fresh perspective.

The Irish cowboy was real, called both a buachaill bo' or bouchanier. In the mid-1600s a group of Irish immigrant men were gathered for an American cattle drive from Springfield, Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts in order to prevent starvation during that winter. The Irish, a major supplier of beef to nearby countries for over 500 years, knew their stuff. They rode horses with ease and could expertly cajole a group of cows to criss-cross through sprawling miles of ravines and rolling hills.

Indeed, some of these Irish cowboys did branch off into different pursuits using their riding skills. They turned their eyes to other goals like bank robbing (Emmit Dalton of the Dalton gang) and escaping to the wild, wild west like Billy the Kid (born to an Irish immigrant mother in the New York City East Side slums). Billy did his best to keep focus on the "wild."

Writers like Louis L'Amour and Zane Gray, both of mixed Irish heritage, preserved the spirit of early cowboys in stories from Appalachia to the thousand plus miles of plains, deserts and mountains reaching the Pacific Ocean. Huge spreading landscapes were certainly ripe for adventure. As the land of opportunity it provided cowboys possibilities for their dreams. Recently D.W. Ulsterman chose to write about that kind of Irish cowboy. The kind of man with a dream, a dream to own his land under the open skies of Montana. To raise a family, crops, cattle and horses. Then hand the land down with pride, from generation to generation.

In "The Irish Cowboy" Hap Wilkes inherited his family land. In the process, it became both a blessing and a curse in this ever changing and complicated world, growing corporate greed and government power in the mix. But nothing is more powerful in the life of a cowboy or any man than the power of the heart. As an old wizened fellow, whose skin appeared tough as leather and body broken and bent but tough as nails, Hap was forced to face the decisions his younger self had made. Decisions that created heartache and nightmares instead of the fulfillment of dreams.

The reader meets Hap on his land with his old mare Peanut and his dog named Dog. There is a thriving herd of wild horses safely tucked away in the nearby hills. Then suddenly, the spotted desert lizard that comes under the heading of endangered species is suspected to be cohabiting in the same area. Land management arrives. Unexpected relatives arrive. The sheriff and Homeland Security arrive. They come in cars and helicopters, some with big guns and demands. For a man alone most of his later years, will Hap suddenly find himself a community? How far will corporate greed go? Which side will the government choose, between the corporation or the man? And the greatest question of all, where does integrity and honor stand, especially within the code of the now American cowboy?

Did you grow up playing cowboy or cowgirl with a pair of chaps and boots and a holster at your hip? Did you wear your wide brim hat with pride and try to lasso the chairs, your siblings and everything in sight? Cowboys weren't all dangerous. Most believed in standing by their word, making honorable honest choices and living by a code that engrained itself into the American psyche. Then, corporations were deemed "people." That did throw a wrench into the mix and has confused many issues since.

When reading "The Irish Cowboy" the depth of humanity becomes the issue in everything. In right from wrong, greed versus protection, love versus regret. In reality we all live our lives as cowboys every day. We just need to figure out what kind of cowboy we really are.

Good Books.

Good reading.

*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.

 
 

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