Going up the mountain –
and down memory lane
It’s Wednesday morning, 26th of December, which is known all round the world as St. Stephen’s Day or Boxing Day, but around our area and many more beyond, it is now known as Barrie Harris Day because it is the day of the Annual Barrie Harris Walk, and so I had decided to get up early (set the clock for 8.30 am) and retired shortly after midnight on Christmas night to be fully fit and ready for the ‘over the mountain’ walk.
Now, being such a conscientious athlete, I had been very careful of my diet over the festive period. I had a few pints of the black stuff on Christmas Eve to build up my iron levels while on the big day itself (Christmas Day), I was aware of the need to build up my carbohydrates.
Accordingly, I had copious amounts of chocolate Kimberley biscuits, a few helpings of Lisa’s lovely Fruit Flan, a good bit of Theresa’s (Peadar’s wife) equally delicious Sherry Trifle, some Viennetta and cream as well as the turkey and ham and so as I retired I was confident I had enough energy stored in me to keep the Christmas lights on in a good few houses.
Anyway, at 8.30 I turned over, thought about getting up but decided 9.30 would be a bit better and so at 9.30 I hopped out and with all my bits and pieces done, I was ready to hit for the mountain some time after 10 am.
So I opened the front door into what I can only describe as torrential rain and for a minute I have to admit that I questioned my resolve and indeed my sanity. However, I had a little chat with myself, reminded myself of the fact that I had been a top class inter-county footballer who had been in many a tough battle (although I had the shortest career in history, in fact so short that it probably isn’t even in history) and, having put on an extra pair of socks I headed off to Creggs where the walk’s official starting point was situated.
Anyway, I headed off and I realised fairly early that my weather defences were barely adequate. By Satchwell’s Cross, which is about a short mile from the village, my four socks were saturated and my two knees were more or less waterlogged.
I plodded on regardless and, after crossing the mountain top, which was remarkably dry, I finally reached the major pit-stop which is of course Mary D’s. I had expected to be the first caller of the day, but I found to my surprise I was only fourth, having been beaten by Padraig Kelly, Susan Gannon and Ita Brennan. I met Padraig later and told him I am after the number one spot! (I will head off at six next year so he’d better watch out) but as usual I had my lovely cup of tea, Christmas Cake, sandwich and biscuit – and, suitably refreshed, headed off on the second half of the walk.
Here in Creggs, we have always thought of Mary D as someone very special because whenever someone is in trouble or something has to be done, Mary D is always to be found, ready and willing to do her bit. As I left her house she said “Please God the rain will soon stop”.
Anyway it was still coming down in bucketfuls and for the next couple of hundred yards, it continued to fall but then as I passed by Eddie Gavin’s, it suddenly began to lighten and the sky was getting bluer and I was able to put away Carol’s appropriately named Guinness umbrella. I said to myself, Mary D has done it again. On and on I continued. I called into Micky Maloney and Maria’s house, but failed to make contact and so fairly soon, I found myself on the main road and heading back into Creggs.
I met so many people who were doing the walk in reverse, if you like, on the home stretch including a Cork man, Joe O’Connor, who was holidaying in Cuisle, and my own old next-door neighbours, Maura and Breda Cunningham. I don’t mean they’re old but they were living across the road from me in Creggs when we were all children. It’s funny how having met and talked to them for a while, suddenly for the rest of the way back to the village I was back in my childhood days and so as I passed by Duffy’s, Garvey’s, Pat Mulligan’s and McGovern’s they were all alive and vibrant as they were in days gone by.
Anyway I made it back to the finishing line, which I presume is outside Roarke’s, and headed down to the house for the shave and the shower.
Freshened up again I made for Mikeen’s where the post-walk hooley was just getting underway. I had a couple of pints with Mick Roarke Senior and Bert Curley, which I really enjoyed as we too took a stroll down memory lane. But as I was due to go out later for Stephen’s Night, I left the very convivial company before Conor Harkin and friends started to put on their musical entertainment.
A few hours later I arrived back in Mikeen’s to find the music was over but by all accounts Conor put on a fantastic show, as usual. So that was that, Stephen’s Day and the Barrie Harris Walk was consigned to history for this year and I went home immensely proud of myself for completing the course and thanking God, that due to the skill of Mr. Curtin and his team up in Merlin Park who replaced my two hips, I am now mobile enough to do the walk. (I wrote most of that last Wednesday 26th but it is now the last day of the year and thankfully it’s been a quiet and peaceful few days since then).
Bits and pieces
Myself and Carol were at Ciaran Coyne’s wedding to the beautiful Sonya Brennan in the Abbey Hotel on Saturday and it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion. It’s 32 years since we had our reception there and to be fair to Tommy (despite the fact that he didn’t recognise me) and his family and staff, the standard is still as high, if not even better than ever and the Abbey remains one of the premier wedding venues around.
Changing subjects, my old friends Joe and Peggy, collectively known as Outback, are in Gannon’s on Saturday 5th January – which is next Saturday – and as it’s the night before Little Christmas, it will effectively bring the curtain down on the Christmas entertainment. So if you want one final jive or waltz to finish it out, make it to Gannon’s on Saturday night. I’ll see you there.
Finally for this week, my wife Carol has her birthday today (31st December) so Happy Birthday Carol, enjoy the day!
‘Till next week,
Bye for now – and
a Happy New Year!
Issued dated 4th January 2013.