It’s Monday 4th January, and to all intents and purposes it’s all over, (that is the Christmas), but as I make my way to work the one thing that hasn’t stopped is the rain.
The floods are everywhere; fields that once were ordinary agricultural land are now more like lakes and no matter where you look as you are driving along, all you see is water, water, and more water.
There is a minor inconvenience for us heading to Athlone, that the road from Athleague over Scrine Hill is closed due to the flooding and so we have to take a little detour, through Four Roads and on through Curraghboy and into Athlone, and for a minute or two, I have to admit that I was a little bit sorry for myself until I heard the news on the radio and I thought of all the hundreds, if not thousands of our normal everyday citizens who have endured unbelievable hardship over the last three or four weeks and whose Christmases were literally a wash out.
To lose your home to flood waters must be one of the worst things imaginable and it is widely accepted that houses that have been destroyed by water will never recover! I’m not going to heap more misery on people already suffering enough by saying what can be the effects of flood damage, as I’m sure they already know too well. All I can do is wish them all well and hope the new year brings some relief, and let’s pray that the government, whoever makes it up, will react properly to this almost regular emergency and they will spend whatever money is needed to ensure this appalling disaster never happens again.
Anyway back to the Christmas and after the dinner on Christmas day, it was full steam ahead, getting ready for the annual Barrie Harris walk on Stephen’s day - that really meant eating as much as I possibly could (I never drink any alcohol on Christmas day), so I’d have the required energy to complete the up, down, and round the mountain course. The day itself dawned fresh and dry, and I headed off on my own at 10 am. - I go on my own because I don’t like holding up other walkers and as the real walk starts at 12.30 pm. it means there are usually only a handful out at that early hour, and I can stroll around at peace and at my leisure.
On my way young Sean Roarke took pity on me and my well worn walking stick and he presented me with a fabulous new mountain ash one, cut on their own land and armed with the new stick, it didn’t take me long to make it to the pit stop at Mary D’s - there all the usual ladies were all ready with the tea, scones, cake, buns, and hot whiskeys and it wouldn’t have been hard to park there for the day and take up his annual offer of a lift home from Jack the lower. However I stayed strong, had only one cup of tea, two scones, and one fruit bun, before I retrieved my new stick and headed back to the village - by now it was the proper time to start the walk and to my great delight the crowd was absolutely massive. It goes without saying that the after walk celebrations in Mikeen’s were as good as ever and nowadays, it would be very hard to imagine Creggs without the annual St. Stephen’s Barrie Harris walk.
Socially that was pretty much it until New Year’s eve, which every year happens to be my wife Carol’s birthday, amazingly since she was born and this year our children (some of them are now older than we are) sent us off to the Hotel Newport over there in Co. Mayo for the big night. They came as well and so a party of eight headed off for the western seaboard on Friday afternoon and we were not disappointed.
You may recall that I told you in the summer about myself and Carol spending a night or two in the hotel, which had recently been acquired by Kilteevan native, Peter Kilmartin and how we were treated so well by the entire staff but, especially by the general manager, Michelle Murphy - well this time it was even better and we had a night there that we will never forget.
The hotel had a New Years Eve ball, complete with cocktail reception, 5 course scrumptious meal, music by the Lightening Strikes band, followed by a disco and as a package it couldn’t have been bettered - We had great fun but I’m getting old because I was in bed many hours before the rest of the crew called a halt.
I told you before but if you find yourself looking for a special, friendly place to go to for a little break, head out to the Hotel Newport, and tell Michelle the mad Creggs man sent you - if she lets you in (she might not) you will find out for yourself what makes this small rural hotel such a lovely welcoming haven.
Till next week, bye for now