A collection of Patrick Kavanagh’s poems — read by celebrities and the poet himself — has been released by Claddagh Records. He wrote a very long book about Loch Derg, or St. Patrick’s Purgatory, but never mentioned the midges, the human-tormenting insects that envelop the shores of the lake.

Loch Derg, I heard that slapping the creatures is an additional need for repentance. My experience of midges and water clouds remains with the relief of the long drive ‘home’ to Morgan’s hospitable pub on an August night when small trout run in North Mayo. It seems like it was just yesterday.

The Cabana Pilgrimage is a gripping documentary of human life, hardships and sad stories, sobs and sore soles, teas and hard beds. His repentance flowed from Cavan and Leitrim, and from Mayo, too, “from every thin-faced parish where the hills were dead noses,” peat waters.

Some had thorns. A mother whose daughter is Final Medicine…and a wife whose husband has started drinking.

He also listened to Bell’s echoes, “the true spirit of Ireland,” the sincere pilgrim arriving over the black waves and being “driven out of the chapel door like a roosting chicken.” .

Summer is bug season, which includes stinging hornets and bees, which caught our attention last week, but also arachnophobia.

Elsewhere in the world, there are natural reactions to venomous arthropods such as the Australian redback spider and black widow.

There’s also the pesky banana spider, which hails from South America and occasionally wreaks havoc around fruit displays in European supermarkets.

Almost all spiders are poisonous, but the fangs of local spiders are too weak to penetrate thick skin. It is said that the better a spider can build a web, the harder it is to bite.

Midges, mosquitoes, harvest bugs, and other pesky summer insects can be kept at bay with proper coverage without the use of irritating soaps, shampoos, and body sprays.

When a midge bites, the human body reacts. Cells in sensitive skin contain substances called cytokines, which are released to signal other body cells to cause blood vessels to swell and dilate. Cells release histamine, activating receptors and causing itching.

And so on and so on. I have a wooden shoehorn with a long handle that I found in a Chinese general store in Portugal.

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