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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The End Came Very Sudden(part 2)

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We started off from the back end of Castleisland town in the teeth of a ferocious gale. To be honest, the whole of Castleisland reminds me of the back end of something, though I don’t really mean to be offensive to anyone by making that remark now. ‘Still, ‘says my bould Nora, and she hardly able to get the words out of her mouth with the force of the wind,’at least, ’twill be behind us on the way home.’ Well now, I can’t say that piece of wisdom comforted me greatly, seeing that we had to cycle all the way to Ballyseedy Garden Centre before we could turn around to come back. Anyway, I hadn’t breath to answer as I was having a right job, trying to mount the bicycle in the midst of the swirling wind.

At last, we succeeded in pedalling off and we found ourselves wobbling out of town in the general direction of Tralee and trying to avoid the few motorists on the road at that time of the morning. Is it my imagination or do Kerry drivers drive awfully close to the ditches? I mean, don’t they know that a bicycle wobble is legal, and they’re supposed to allow for it when overtaking cyclists; particularly when there’s a high wind blowing? I nearly ended up in the ditch three or four times, before we made the relative safety of the open road.

Well, to say that was the most torturous cycle we ever undertook is definitely an understatement, my God, how we suffered, the two of us. There was no escaping that gale, cross winds, wind in our faces and then,  trying to control the bikes which were weaving  all over the road. It would have been far easier for us to climb Croagh Patrick, barefoot! I swore an oath anyway that I wouldn’t be caught again doing a run in bloody Kerry, what with the weather and the appalling drivers, not to mention, the godforsaken aspect of Castleisland as we took our leave of it. It truly perplexes me that they can coax so many thousands of tourists into the place. Jeez, give me West Cork anytime, at least, they can drive properly there.

At long last, just when I thought I could pedal no more, I spied that roundabout not far from our destination. Jeez, praise the Lord. We’d make it after all. I pulled in to tell Nora the good news. Her face only brightens. ‘Well, says she ‘ didn’t the end come very  sudden after all?’ I looked at her and if looks could kill! Very Sudden, I almost shrieked, shure, we’ve only been pedalling like mad women most of the fecking day. How on earth did she come to the conclusion that the End had come Very Sudden and it hadn’t anyway, shure, hadn’t we still all that distance to travel back?  Nora is one of those people that can take positive thinking to total extremes!

It took us over two hours to reach the garden centre and we were only in bits by the time we bounced into the car park. We’d had to stop every so often because our helmets kept falling down around our ears, to the back of our heads and down over our eyes. From time to time, there would be a screech from Nora, and I’d risk life and limb turning around to see her wrestling with the bike like a dervish, with the helmet completely blinding her and she making straight for the nearest ditch. When we parked the bikes in the garden centre and took off the helmets, we were fit to be anointed. Worse, we found there were big pink circles around our eyes, which were only streaming water and both of us had hairstyles like Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols , all standing to one side like a drunken stalagmite! I wouldn’t mind so much but I’d got my hair washed and blow dried the day before; fifteen euro it cost me and now that money was gone down the fecking drain, shure, I might as well have burnt it.

We staggered into the coffee shop there, taking care to stop first at the ladies, to tidy our hair and wipe our eyes, so we wouldn’t be frightening the children and drawing attention to ourselves for all the wrong reasons. Then, we ordered a large pot of tea, a massive salad and sank into the chairs, nearly crying with relief at being on solid ground again, without the swirling wind and the buck lepping bicycles. We could hardly hold the forks and knives properly because our whole bodies were vibrating like a drill hammer.

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It took us over an hour to recover and we still sat there, dreading going out into the elements. At last, we had to move because the cafe was closing and we were getting some right funny looks. The only thing that was keeping us going was the thought of the wind to our backs as we pedalled homewards to Castleisland. We finally got our noses outside the door and then, Nora only stops dead in front of me, so I crash into her and we both nearly fall over.

‘Jesus, Mary and Joseph,’ says Nora,  ‘ I don’t believe it, it simply CANNOT be happening -‘

‘What, what, ‘says I in a panic, cos I couldn’t see beyond her and Nora never swears so it must be something right bad.

‘Nothing at all, ‘ says she wildly, throwing her arms to the heavens,’only the bloody wind is after changing and ”tis going to be right into our faces the whole way back into bleddy Castleisland again’

What, what? Did I just hear that right?

IMG_0861Well, for ……….sake, could the two of us be any more unlucky?

 

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