Tramore Beach Photo: Frank Tubridy
There was a time when there were pony and donkey rides on Tramore Beach and they were a big hit with us as kids. They stopped quite a few years ago now but this photo of Dad’s brought me back to days when we’d have swims, kites, buckets and spades, picnics, sand in out shoes and a pony ride to top off the day.
It’s been our second non-parade St. Patrick’s Day here in Ireland but there have been lots of good things happening in smallish ways. For example, I saw three balloons representing the colours of the Irish flag tied to a gate when I was out for my constitutional this morning and lots of people wearing items of green clothing. Believe it or not, I didn’t see one sprig of shamrock yet and it’s 18:17 here.
The highlight of the day was undoubtedly all the attention that was being lavished across the world’s TV and radio stations on a group of young men who definitely seem to be a whole new generation of Irish dancers who will push on from the Riverdance era.
They are called Cairde (which means friends in English) and here is a clip of them in action. They really brought a great feeling of hope to me and a sense that there is incredible talent and creativity being unleashed in spite of the restrictions associated with the pandemic.
I especially like the fact that the backdrop to their dance today was The Cliffs of Moher in Co. Clare which had such meaning for my father who was a passionate Clareman. Here’s one of his photos of The Cliffs, as they are called by Clare people.
It’s only when I go abroad that I really hear my Irish accent and become acutely aware of it. Irish accents are extremely diverse depending on region and it can be hard even for Irish people to understand what people from different areas are saying. I’ve lived in a wide range of different parts of Ireland so have a bit of a mixum-gatherum of an accent. However, I am absolutely fascinated by Irish accents generally and hope you enjoy this short introduction to them:
While Shamrock is very much associated with St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, the harp is a key national emblem here and features on many official documents and is, of course, a key symbol associated with Guinness.
I hope you enjoy Orla Fallon, harpist and singer, in this video:
Ireland is going to be very much in the news in the coming week because St. Patrick’s Day is on March 17.
I am incredibly proud to be from this beautiful country and to live here as well.
Ireland, with its population of almost 5 million people, is on the very periphery of Europe and prides itself on its cultural heritage among many other things.
Tonight, I’d like to bring you a tune from The Chieftains, a very well-known Irish traditional band, founded in 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy (who I am proud to say is a cousin of mine).
Tabhair dom do Lamh translates from Irish to ‘Give me Your Hand.’
I was walking along the Promenade here in Tramore the other day and caught sight of a teddy bear attached to the solid railings. It was but a glimpse and in that second I saw a heartbroken child, a frantic parent, a sad little bear heading into a night alone but glad that he had been left where he had been lost so hopeful that they would find him.
I also found myself back at a beach up the country when I was about 10 and our precious Dalmatian, Beauty, vanished in the sandhills. We searched for hours and eventually Dad drove us home with a promise that he would go back out at first light. It was among the worst nights of my life.
Heading back up the Prom, I stopped at the teddy bear to console him and realised that he was there for different reasons than I had imagined.
Here’s what I saw:
The words Feeling Lost jumped out at me and my eyes read on to see that the great organization, Pieta House, which is very much there for people who are down and/or suicidal was reaching out in this touching way that I guess most of us can identity with.
Suicide is a complex subject and people have many reasons for feeling lost but it is absolutely essential that there are people to reach out to who will understand at the low points of life. Feeling lost and having a sense of hopelessness is a very dark place but hope can very often be re-kindled from ashes with appropriate support.
None of us really knows what thoughts are in other’s minds but I think we all know the importance of love and peace of mind.
I just hope the little teddy bear knows the hope he is offering and that he will help people overcome that awful lost feeling.
Yes, Beauty was waiting for Dad that next morning at first light-exactly where he had parked the car.
Ireland and Covid
We’re still in Level 5 Lockdown in Ireland after the terrible surge of cases post Christmas.
The 5km restriction is still here and only essential shops are open. Visits to houses and gardens are banned
There are some green shoots, however.
Case numbers that were in the 6,000 a day range have dropped gradually to about 550 and hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths are also decreasing.
Some classes in schools have opened up again recently and education and health services are priorities.
Vaccination rollout is slow due mainly to distribution issues but it is happening.
It’s not an easy time for anyone but it is such a relief that the out of controlness post-Christmas seems to have been dealt with.
Caution is the name of the game as we saw what the pre-Christmas opening did and the price paid has been terrible.
It will be many months before there is much relaxation but hopefully it will be worth the wait.
Seeing our county figures drop to single figures some days this week has been wonderful after the horrific outbreak here in Tramore after Christmas when the town was ravaged with the virus leaving many still very unwell or bereft.