Pedal Power only in the Sunny South East.

IMG_1753.JPGDetermined to cycle part of the Dungarvan- Waterford Greenway before returning to school, I arrived in Dungarvan this morning with two friends to an overcast sky, threatening rain and other dire offerings. The look of the sky was so bad that it prompted Nora to remark, somewhat sourly, that swimming goggles might prove to be of more benefit on the route than the sun glasses we wore, somewhat rakishly, on the crown of our heads, to effect a rather bohemian demeanour.
Emerging from a hearty breakfast at Meade’s Cafe in the square, well, there wasn’t any point in foregoing food because of some misplaced notion that real athletes set off on 25 kilometre cycling trips with only granola and natural yogurt in their stomachs. We’ve never set much store in the well-loved catholic belief of penance and fasting, so there wasn’t much chance of the three of us suffering from hunger pangs en route. We are inclined to lean more towards an army marches on its stomach school of philosophy really.
We were amazed, even suspicious, to be greeted by sunshine and a warm breeze as we stood in the square, among all the food stalls: it very evidently being market day in the town. Still, we persisted with our plan of hiring bikes and pedalling the 22 kilometres to Kilmacthomas village. It was wonderful to see so many people, adults and children cycling, walking, running, (ok, there were some who did seem to be on the verge of expiring but even they were putting a brave face on it, it being such a sunny day and all) Fair play to them.

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The view was wonderful, for the first five or six kilometres, we had the sea beside us, choppy with white spray dashing off the rocks. We passed Clonea Strand, though we stayed wedged in our saddles, as we had this superstitious belief that if we once dismounted, we mightn’t be able to persuade our limbs to climb back up again.
There was a long tunnel, dark, moisture laden, lit only by faint bulbs along the way. It was black and rather sinister and I was thankful when we were back into the sunshine again. We passed under another tunnel, of trees this time, cool, dappled sunlight peeping through the branches which met in the middle. I was so busy here, admiring the beauty of nature and wondering if I’d chance writing a poem on it, that I only narrowly avoided falling off the greenway altogether and tumbling into the ditch ten feet below.
By this time, we’d begun to believe that we’d actually manage to complete the 22 kilometres without mishap, so we detached ourselves from the saddles to take a break at the old pub, near Durrow. Mahony’s has been plying its trade since the 1860s and the three of us were so intoxicated by the combination of fresh air and the quaintness of the pub that we went mad altogether, treating ourselves to a yogurt and bottle of water, with Nora losing the run of herself completely and demolishing two Curley Wurlies – in addition to the yogurt and the water.

 

Nora and myself take a short breakIMG_1748.JPGBack on the bikes again, it was just over an hour to the old kilmacthomas railway station. We were feeling inordinately pleased with ourselves and maybe, in retrospect, that was the problem. Haven’t we all been reared with the old adage: pride comes before a fall?Whatever, it was here, as we were on the home straight that we had, what could euphemistically be called ‘the incident ‘ – though we did manage, thankfully, to survive to tell the tale.

Well obviously, you’re rceading me, aren’t you?

To be continued

 

The Dungarvan -Waterford Greenway was opened by Simon Coveney TD on March 25th this year.

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The Magic that is Goleen

Goleen is a little village, westwards from Schull, that one travels through on the way to The Mizen. It is where I will settle for part of the year, when I am fortunate enough to win the lotto, write a best seller or maybe come into an unexpected legacy, from a hitherto unknown relative in America. Whatever, it is in this small unpretentious village, that I’ll buy a small unpretentious house and glide seamlessly into my golden years.

Goleen Village

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Goleen was built in the nineteenth century at a crossroads, where there was a cattle fair. And every house along both sides of the street began life as shops. For many years, I visited the village regularly, a month in the summer, some weekends here and there, and at other school holiday times throughout the year. Whenever I could, I headed for Goleen.

Glorious hedgerows on the walks around Goleen

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There are wonderful walks around Goleen, none of which is very far from the sight and sound of the sea. On one, you climb up the narrow road, hedgerows lush with exuberant, orange montbretia and the fuchsia everywhere one looks, until cresting the rise, quite unexpectedly, the sea appears in your line of vision and you are breathless, not because of the climb, but at the sheer beauty of the vast expanse of blue – inviting and sparkling in front of you.

Once, I walked with a friend near midnight, the muffled, lazy sound of the waves just beyond the roadside fields and the flicker of the lights of the far away Fastnet lighthouse casting a long ladder of light over the countryside. A strange, almost hypnotic calm enveloped the sleepy road into the village, seeping indolently into our very bones, wrapping itself around us, until there existed only that moment in that place – there was no past, no future, only the present, the silence and my friend and I.

There was no traffic and the soft whinnying of two horses, heads thrust over the five bar, rusting gate in one of the small fields adjoining the road, was like an explosion in the stillness. The moon shone so brightly that it was possible to see the carpet of wild garlic growing on the hedgerows and their scent filled our nostrils, so that the silence and the faint swishing of the waves, the gently weaving trees and the odour of the garlic, so seduced my senses that I felt almost giddy, heady with the perfection of that moment and that place.

The exuberant montbretia, fuchsia and lush hedgerows around Goleen

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In the winter, in howling winds and heavy rain, the sea is no less beautiful, wild and savage, untameable and untamed. The force of the wind and the growls of the sea fill me and power and energy course through my body, and there are no limitations to what I can do.

The Fastnet Bar, The Lobster Pot, the Post Office in the corner of the coffee shop, Sheehan’s Grocery and Heron’s Cove on the harbour. And the house, known then as Mary Kate’s, where we created unforgettable memories. And the wind blowing in from the sea, always the sea.

And the house I’ll buy there one day, when I’ll meet my golden years.

Strolling through the village

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Broadford Village, Co. Limerick

IMG_0899Broadford Village.

Whenever I return to  Broadford, the small village in West Limerick, where I was born and raised, I think how very pretty it is and how very lucky I was to have spent my childhood there.  My life, my personality, my first vision of the world were formed here in this tranquil corner of County Limerick.

The memories of my childhood are etched into the very road beneath my feet, in the cobbles on the pavement, absorbed into the river bed flowing languidly past, what used to be Jer Forde’s house, on the road leading to Ashford and mixed with the concrete blocks of the creamery, still standing strong and impressive, after more than a century serving the people of the area.

Just up the road from the creamery is the cottage where my mother’s family have lived since 1908, the first and last permanent home of my grandfather, who moved into the cottage, at the age of thirteen. This followed a very innovative initiative introduced by local government at the time, where large farmers provided an acre or half acre, so that a cottage could be built to provide a home for landless labourers and their families. The Delees were one such family.IMG_0922.JPG

Tullaha Cottage.

One of the first things my grandfather, James Delee, did on that sunny September morning, was to plant a conker in the haggart and the tree grew and flourished, witnessing the major events, not only of the Delee family, but indeed the national events which included the War of Independence, the fear engendered by the Black and Tans and the Auxilaries, the bitterness of the Civil War which followed, the Emergency, the proclamation of the Republic, the visit of John F. Kennedy and so many more up to the present day.

IMG_0924.JPGStill standing, the old horse chestnut tree.

On a personal level, the tree witnessed the death of my grandfather’s mother at fifty five, the death from TB of his own wife at the age of thirty nine and the striking down of three of his children with TB in their early teens. Thankfully, all survived, though my mother spent eighteen months in a hospital in Dublin, before she was well enough to return home. My grandfather’s youngest son, born when his mother was dying, spent the first seven years of his life in the County Home, being cared for (very well) by nuns and lay staff. So the Delee family is well rooted in the fabric of Broadford and the surrounding area.

There is, however, much more to the pretty little village that I happily grew up in, in the sixties.

To be continued.

 

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Thou Worse than Useless Thing…..

Just out of idle curiosity, I wonder if anyone reacts the way I do, when a match quenches before it succeeds in lighting a fire or candle. I look at offending match in deep disgust, even contempt and berate it soundly , ‘Well, I don’t believe this, you were created for the sole purpose of doing this job and you just flunked it, you worse than useless, stupid, incompetent, no good article. You should be utterly ashamed of yourself.. one thing to do, only one, and you couldn’t even manage that much, for God’s sake, you pathetic piece of wood.’

I actually believe it shrivels up in shame – I mean, I can see it there before my eyes, shrinking, and so it should obviously.

Just wondering….

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High Jinks at the Island Wood: Update.

IMG_0890For the many people who asked if the cat was successfully rescued, he was! Last seen tearing up Scarteen Street like a rocket, trying to escape his experiences in the wood – and my good kind friend, with the Fiesta. Probably traumatised so approach with caution😂
I mean the respectable woman in Fiesta now – not the cat. Devil a’ fear of him!

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Browsing in Bantry

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Writers reading at West Cork Literary Festival

Enjoyed a lovely few days in Bantry at 2017 West Cork Literary Festival. The town was full of colour and buzzing with tourists and locals alike. Today, Friday,  there was a huge market in the square, selling clothes, food, crafts, books and also, to my eyes anyway, a whole lot of rubbish that most of us would be embarrassed to appear in public with. I stood, fascinated, behind a well dressed woman in a vivid green poncho and green toenails, as she haggled with the stall owner over a small tin of bent nails, yes, you read that correctly, a rusty tin of bent nails!🤔He wouldn’t sell for less than 2 euro, ‘a bargain at that,’ he says and she retorts that anything more than one euro was daylight robbery. When I left after a few minutes, they were still going at it like hammer and tongs. Can anyone tell me if  bent nails can, in fact, be used for anything?

I was delighted to come across Kiltrea Pottery in one of the craft shops off the square. I hadn’t seen it for years, but have very fond memories of visiting the pottery itself in Wexford with a friend, more years ago than I care to remember now. 😱So I went mad and bought a mug!IMG_0888.JPG

I was privileged to be on the company of writer, Mary T. Bradford, who was doing a reading in the library there as part of the festival. The two of us browsed to our hearts’ content and spent more money than we intended but shure…
And the downside: the absolute nightmare of

 

trying to find a parking spot😤

Above: Mary T. Bradford reading in Bantry library.

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