A Stroll Along The Frolic Road

I walked, heading South West, on the little road that ran along the edge of Bunduff lake in North Sligo. It is one of those lanes with a spine of grass running down the middle. Locally, the road is called “The Frolic”. No one knows why it is called that. Perhaps a hark back to days long ago, when young lads and lassies cavorted or frolicked in the area. That would be a romantic origin of the name. It is one of those heavenly roads that exudes peace and tranquillity, especially on a glorious summers evening. All the original houses along the road now stand empty and in most cases dilapidated and falling down. The first house I passed brought back memories of me calling there to collect York cabbage plants. These were brought home and set in our garden by my father. Next house along now has crumbling walls. I never saw this house with a roof on but I do recall the occupant, a man with twine tying up his overcoat. When the roof came in on his house, he lived in a tar barrel with straw or hay as his bed, He lived that way until his death. Behind his house was an old souterrain, some say was an escape tunnel from troubled times in Ireland. I visited it once, but was scared away by the appearance of a stoat who hissed at me. I carry on and see where the next house stood. It has now been converted into a cow byre. I remember once delivering buttermilk to the old lady who lived in that house. I was rewarded with a very blue moulded “penny” cake, which I managed to take away with me and throw into the water, for the delectation of one of the several eels that lived in the lake. Opposite all these houses there is a marshy ground full of bulrush and iris but from opposite the cow byre the open lake begins and lake waters lap up close to the road. The lake side of the road is now hedged by blackthorn and dotted here and there by red and purple fuchsia. Also along this bank are swathes of orange montbretia.
I carry on and come to the next house which still retains a resemblance of a property that could be easily occupied. Opposite this house, a gap allowed the people of the house get to the lake, no doubt to collect water as there was no public water supply along the road. From this point on the lake commands the view on the righthand side while land, that up to this point, was fairly decent arable land, now transforms gradually into fern and rush covered marsh, dotted with small dry islands of rocky ground. The lake and the land side of theFrolic road are now on one level. During the winter months the lake rises and floods the road rendering it impassable. On this walk I was able to carry on and see the tall bulrush again form a border on the lake edge. As a child, I enjoyed taking the brown top of the bulrush and shred it to reveal the white cotton type inside. My earliest memory of the lake was from December/January 1962/1963. The big freeze during those months brought record low temperatures to Ireland. Bunduff lake was frozen over and all the local people came to the lake and enjoyed using it as a skating rink. I was brought there by my cousin and still retain happy memories of that time today.