We’re big into our Christmas ads in Ireland and this year the one which has captured hearts is that from the SuperValu supermarket chain.
As it happens, SuperValu here in Tramore is my main shopping place for groceries and the ethos of the chain is about supporting communities.
SuperValu in Tramore has been to the forefront of the Tidy Towns initiative which has seen Tramore been greatly enhanced and it is also very big into sponsoring local teams, especially in Gaelic Games.
You deserve a thank you letter because you have been incredibly kind to me throughout my life.
I know I left you for longish periods and had love affairs with Co. Louth and Dublin but you never left my heart.
Those first years of my life that I spent here were magical and you introduced me to the sea and the mountains as well as places full of history and antiquity. You also taught me the meaning of belonging and having a sense of identity as a person from this most stunning county that has remained relatively unspoiled.
Your allure meant that we never lost touch and came back on holidays every year to make sure our connection was never lost.
I fought hard to persuade hubby to move here when we got married because I knew that you brought me a greater level of health and happiness than anywhere else in the world.
Some people long to travel the world but my joy is in travelling your country roads, especially those high above the sea for all the miles and miles of coastline you offer. And how lovely it is to climb into the mountains and take in the vistas all around.
Your jewels, for me, include Mount Congreve Gardens, Lord Waterford’s, Curraghmore, and the picturesque villages and towns like Dunmore East, Annestown, Lismore, Stradbally and, of course, my beloved Tramore.
You are a county that has lots of pride but humility. You love your sport and sportspeople as well as musicians and creative people from all genres.
I’m glad you haven’t changed too much since I was a child as I love the continuity you bring.
Thanks again for being such a support all these years and I am really looking forward to being able to travel your length and breadth from Wednesday on after the 5km Covid restriction.
It’s my birthday today and that means feeling intensely close to my mother. She was hugely into birthdays and made each of ours very special in simple ways.
Mine brought the most delicious walnut coffee cake you could imagine. I considered making one yesterday but decided against because I know it wouldn’t be anything as yummy as hers and also I would be eating it all myself as the men in my life aren’t into that type of cake at all.
Birthdays, to me, are just as much about the mother as the baby and I feel a bit bad about leaving fathers out of this symbiotic relationship but, to me, they aren’t quite as connected to it.
Yesterday, I was out walking and I felt a wave of wonder about how Mother must have been feeling all those years ago just 7 hours or so before my arrival. For a fleeting moment, I felt like I was in her shoes. It was very comforting and I knew she’d have loved the Autumn colours that were enveloping ‘us.’
Birthdays aren’t about big fancy parties for me, they never were. Rather they are about soaking up October with its blaze of colour and stunning light.
They are also about memories of birthdays at different stages of life and about moments that defined them, like getting one of my beloved dogs (1972); getting my very own portable black and white television (1977); being a mother for the first time (1995); that last birthday before Mother died when she threw a surprise lparty for me (2008); this birthday getting such a greeting from our three excited dogs before anyone else has got up. It may be the Pandemic birthday but I intend to build lots of memories and among other things dance to fellow October 18th birthday person – Chuck Berry and read some of Yeats’ poetry, especially The Wild Swans at Coole, do a little abstract painting to capture the day and have a chat with my sibs who know exactly what special birthdays mean in our family, thanks to Mother’s love.
It was extremely windy here recently and my pot of orange sunflowers, which, are just coming into bloom, was knocked over and rocked around unmercifully. The sunflowers are a good seven foot tall and are staked heavily.
I know now I should have gone for planting them in the ground in a super-sheltered spot but we live and learn (some less than others, though, as my Latin teacher wrote on my school report when I was eleven!)
The big news this calm morning is that they are standing proud again and looking sunward right outside our living room window.
What a joy to behold when I opened the curtains to greet the day!
Kids in Ireland are headed back to school at the moment after a lay off since March due to Covid.
Much of the talk is about how they are delighted to be going back. I can’t imagine such a feeling. The start of the school year always filled me with dread. It meant the end of being outdoors and free and having to wear a heavy uniform and face hours of homework.
I don’t think I would be any different now and wonder how I could be so out of step with school enthusiasts or is it some sort of fairy tale that kids, these days, love school.
Even in my time, there was the old saying that ‘school days are the happiest days of your life.’
They certainly weren’t for me unless people are talking about school holidays!
Ireland was given an injection of hope this week when two young paddle-boarders who had been missing at sea for fifteen hours were found safe and well.
It has been deemed the ‘good news story’ of 2020, as the two young women, aged 17 and 23, were swept out from a beach in the West of Ireland at evening time and were caught in a storm with high winds, heavy rain, crashing waves and thunder and lightening.
The pair, who are first cousins, were wearing just their swimming togs but crucially had life jackets on. They kept their heads, stayed calm, acted smart by tying their boards together and eventually to a lobster pot.
There was a massive sea search with all parts of the rescue services, fishing community and local groups coming together.
The country waited and waited, finding it hard to cling to hope, with each passing hour, but at last we heard they were safe and there has been an outpouring of absolute joy.
Like all countries, we needed to see a glimmer of hope in these dark times of Covid19. It’s like the two girls symbolize the importance of staying calm, clinging to hope and, of course, the power of community effort against the force of nature.
We all need bouyancy aids these days and a lobster pot or two to hang onto as we wait for better times.
I am feeling chuffed because I completed a computer course yesterday that I started at the beginning of the lockdown here in Ireland in March.
My computing days began when computers were as big as juggernauts and I am pretty much self-taught so I decided to have a go at getting the basics sorted and certified after all this time.
I’ve loved it and plan to push on now.
I have a thing about learning something new when the situation changes so learning Spanish came when I broke my leg and knitting when I broke it a second time.
I think all this comes back to the fact that we were reared with the philosophy that boredom isn’t an acceptable or necessary state and that one can never run out of new things to learn.
I’m still toying with getting to grips with playing the banjo, getting to know the sky and conquering those crosswords that seem impossible to figure out even when you have the solution in front of you.
The memorial for George Floyd was one of the most heart-wrenching ‘ceremonies’ I have ever seen.
America is at more than 5,000 miles from Ireland but George Floyd is a man who has come to touch all our lives. Those who spoke at his memorial were incredibly dignified, in spite of their grief, and I sincerely hope that their longing for major changes in race relations will come to pass.
I know there are all sorts of historical issues at play but surely it is time for us to fully recognize the crucial importance of equality.
What matters to me is a person’s heart not the colour of their skin.
All the tears shed for George Floyd from across the world are the same, sad, salty tears.
May he rest in peace and may his death mark a turning point in the way we relate as the fragile, imperfect, striving human beings that we all are.