When I was a boy in the fifties in Ireland, only the well-heeled pillars of society had motor cars. The ordinary peasant’s mode of transport was the ‘High Nellie’ bicycle or the pony and trap. We were a hardy and weather-beaten lot, and a bit of frost, snow, or a force eight gale never stopped us.
The bicycle was my father’s bridge to the outside world, and the pony and trap kept my mother mobile, independent, and sane. The journeys were often long, the terrain rough and bone-shaking, but nobody complained – they reached their destinations and came home safe.
When recalling our growing-up in that primitive Ireland, it dawned on me how important the pony and trap was to my mother and indeed to all of us. Isolated at the end of a long bog-side lane, miles from everywhere, our very existence depended on that little pony – to my mother, he was a life-saver.
Trying to cope with the trials and tribulations of rearing a large family on meager resources was hard enough, but also caring for a cantankerous old mother-in-law was a recipe for utter despair. Many a time it was the little pony that came to her rescue when in the heat of a battle of words with Granny, she would shout out to us in the yard: “Yoke the Pony” We did, we went somewhere – anywhere – and on our return the war would be over and peace would prevail – until the next time.
That’s where I got the title, and to me, it says a lot.