Dear Diary

Capes and bees

A chara, – I enjoyed Sean Savage’s letter (March 20th), prompted by Frank McNally Irishman’s Diary (“Prefixes and postscripts – Frank McNally on American superlatives, souperism, and St Patrick’s Week hangovers”, March 18th), about the use of the hession fertiliser bag as an “improvised winter weather cape” in the fields. I can still picture my father wearing such a cape, made rather from a “hundredweight” potato bag (in east Down), with one bottom corner punched into the other, giving it the appearance of some masonic regalia. The Irish word cídeog meets the description perfectly. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.


Sir, – Beekeepers will be familiar with the term “super” as they add an additional storey to their hives during the summer moths, intended to provide space for more storage cells for liquid honey. A “queen excluder” prevents unwanted additional juvenile queens being laid among the honeycomb.

Using “super” as an abbreviation of the word “supernumerary” or “additional” arose also in the days of manned lighthouses, when trainee lighthouse keepers were described as supernumerary assistant keepers (SAKs), and were additional to principal and assistant keepers. – Yours, etc


Ballymore Eustace,

Co Kildare.