A Marvellous Menagerie and a Darling Goat

My childhood home, a rambling rectory, not only housed my family but a marvellous menagerie of creatures. Among our more exotic pets were a pair of chameleons and some tree frogs. The chameleons darted out their long tongues when offered tasty morsels and camouflaged themselves by changing colour to blend in with their surroundings. They and the frogs were eventually given to Dublin zoo, but my mother’s acquisition of unusual fauna continued.

An outside aviary was home to a large variety of exotic finches and ‘Beatle Canaries’, and a glamorously feathered Golden Pheasant lived in the walled garden. We had an impressive collection of pedigree dogs, and frequently puppies, plus the cat Tibbs who had been born in Trinity College, Dublin, and rehomed by one of my brothers.

There were hens, bantams, a tortoise, goldfish and mice and guinea pigs and my mother grew extremely excited when the occasional bat flew into my bedroom because she had a particular fondness for these nocturnal adventurers.

I adored dear Tibbs the cat, who I regarded as my pet, and also began to long for a goat…

Exciting rumours that a goat might be available reached me via Alice who worked for us, and who was also one of my best buddies. After some persuading my parents relented and the goat arrived…a tiny ‘kid’ who was very hungry. He was my responsibility and I called him Bambi. Every morning I got up early and walked down to the creamery to collect fresh milk for him. I was eight or nine and it made me feel important, grown up.

I had a goat and was part of the mysterious and impressive morning routines connected with the creamery. Farmers passed me with their milk churns, some travelling by horse and cart and some by tractor. I held my bucket carefully and watched as it was filled with the creamy liquid. I had to return home quickly because Bambi would be eagerly awaiting his breakfast. He bleated joyfully whenever he saw me. He followed me and gazed up at me adoringly. It had some of the passion of a Mills and Boon romance.

The thing is little goats get bigger. They move on from milk to grass, and anything else that takes their fancy. After a while they grow horns and become rather opinionated and it is sometimes not easy to keep them attached to their tether when they are on a lawn.

It was suggested to me that Bambi might be better off with a woman who kept a herd of goats, he’d have more freedom. I wasn’t impressed by these suggestions but Bambi left anyway. I was no longer a girl with a goat.

A couple of years passed and I had transferred my adoration to a pony called Merrylegs. I was sure Bambi had forgotten me. He probably had loads of other things to think about.

One day Merrylegs and I went riding on a pretty road on a nearby hill. I looked into a huge field, wondering if we could go for a gallop across it, when, in the distance, I saw a small herd of animals. They were too small to be cows.

“Bambi” I found myself shouting, though it seemed silly. “Bambi!” He wouldn’t be there of course, I just felt I had to call.

And then one of the creatures left the herd. He was just a dot in the distance. He was running towards me. Racing. And he was bleating. He was saying hello. It was Bambi! I couldn’t believe it. We greeted each other joyously.

Bambi was okay…and he hadn’t forgotten me.

He was indeed a darling goat.

Warm wishes,


You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Rosemary McAllan (O'Boyle) says:

    Hi Grace, Madeleine said you had become a writer and here I have found you! So lovely to see your photo after all these years and reading you account of the Manse in Knockainy almost brought a tear to my eyes – what fun we had playing at your house, I remember it so well, the garden, my first encounter of Croquet (!), Merrylegs, making rafts on the river with your older brothers and lots more fun. I remember the pugs too and the line of multi sized wellies at the back door for us all to wear! I live in Ayrshire in Scotland and have been in Scotland since 1987, married with one daughter, Ailsa who is 20 and will be getting married next Summer! I am in Ireland from 6th October for about a week or so – coming over by myself to catch up with all the family and I wondered whether you are in Ireland these days?? If so maybe we could meet up? My surname is McAllan and I have a facebook page and I would love to hear from you.

  2. Grace says:

    Dear Rosemary,

    How lovely to hear from you, thank you! So moving to read your great memories of life in, and around, the rectory. We spent many precious hours playing there! Yes, it would be lovely to meet up. Will you be visiting Dublin? Perhaps we could discuss this via message on Facebook. Lots of love and sparkles and fond memories, Grace xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *