Sometimes I wonder, as we look back at events that took place many years ago, whether the passage of time colours our memories and if subconsciously we dramatise or romanticise certain things when they were not nearly as dramatic or romantic as we would like to think.
Was the weather as good as we older folk always claim it was? Were the never-ending sunshine filled summer days of the fifties and sixties, during which the farmers saved the hay and turf and later the corn, with the minimum of fuss, actually real or was it all just a figment of childish imagination?
Were the local carnivals, which every village held for a week or a fortnight during the summer, really as exciting as our ageing minds like us to think? Or were the dances simply an excuse for filling up with a bucket of porter, and pushing and shoving for an hour or two in the hope (usually forlorn) of meeting a pretty girl before heading home in the early hours fortified by a cup of tea and a slice of cake, compliments of the ladies committee?
All these thoughts came into my head last Friday evening when I headed off to my local polling booth, in Lisaniskey National School where there was some excitement missing. Once again, my mind drifted back to the scenes at Creggs NS on election day when I was a young lad. Back in those days it was pretty much a head to head between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, with an odd Labour candidate thrown in here and there.
All the parties would mobilise on Election Day and cars would spend all day bringing people who had no transport into the village. Folk who wouldn’t be seen for the rest of the year would magically arrive into town courtesy of the local Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael driver. On occasion the driver would make a deliberate mistake, and pick up a voter who should be voting the other way but, of course, by giving them a lift in and out of town they would have a good chance of changing their mind! This practice often led to jostling and pushing and shoving at the door of the school, which to a young gasun was manna from Heaven!
The other big difference was that most of the candidates would appear during the day, making a last ditch attempt to win over some undecided voters, whereas last Friday I saw no posters outside the school and, at least while I was there, not a candidate in sight. I did, however, run into a great Rossie, Padraic Whyte, and the next I saw him was on the front page of Monday’s Irish Independent as he celebrated Roscommon’s big win over Mayo in Castlebar on Saturday evening!
Anyway, the elections are over and done with, congratulations to the winners and commiserations to the losers, but for me the excitement simply wasn’t there. No inter-party local row to report on, no pushing and shoving at the door, no punches thrown and not even a cross word spoken. Maybe, just maybe it’s a sign of a more mature Ireland. But I’d really have preferred to have had a good scrap outside Lisaniskey National School to tell you about…maybe next time!
Lough Key is a real gem!
Back in the days when our children were young, one of our favourite places to visit as a family was Lough Key Forest Park, outside Boyle. With its wide open spaces and beautiful walks and parks, it was the ideal place for kids to play football or do whatever young children do, in a completely safe and idyllic environment.
Last Wednesday afternoon, my wife Carol and I decided to pay the park a visit for the first time in many years. I have to say we thoroughly enjoyed it and it is an absolute treasure to have it less than an hour away from us. The County of Roscommon should be so thankful that it has such a wonderful tourist attraction inside its boundaries.
Since we were last there many big changes have taken place, with all kinds of activities available for both adults and children and there is also a fine new marina. All of these new attractions seemed to be busy on the Wednesday afternoon, which fortunately happened to be a lovely, bright, sunny one.
However, the things that endeared the park to us all those years ago were still there and all around us kids were kicking ball, throwing Frisbees and generally enjoying themselves. We sat out on the balcony at the restaurant, over a cup of coffee and a bun and thought back to the days when it was our children that were playing out there. We wondered, not for the first time, where have all the years gone.
Eventually it was time for us to head off home but not before buying a jar of the most beautiful homemade honey in the garden shop. All I can say is, if you want to experience total peace in wonderful, natural surroundings, then hop in the car and head for Lough Key Forest Park…you will not regret it!
I missed the social event of the year!
Finally for this week, last weekend I had to travel out of town for a medical appointment and as a result I missed one of the biggest social events held locally for quite a long time last Saturday: the sixtieth birthday celebrations of the former Personality of the Parish, Tom Connolly at Mikeen’s.
I’m told it was one of the “best nights ever”, with a huge turnout, great music, food and craic, and as Tom is one of the great characters around the area, it is no wonder so many people turned out to join in the celebrations.
The whole thing was a big surprise for the man himself, as he had no idea the party was taking place at all but one thing’s for sure, nothing fazes him and I’m certain he would not have been at a loss for words!
I’m sorry I missed it, but heartiest congratulations to Tom and if I’m still around for your seventieth (doubtful, enough I’d say) I’ll make sure I’m there!
Till next week, Bye for now!