When You Know It’s There …

There’s a support centre in Waterford City for people impacted by cancer. It’s called The Solas Centre, and they have an annual fundraising Run/Walk for Life every October.

My first foray in the event was in 2009 a few months after my mother died and I walked the 13 miles slowly but got there in the end and felt extremely emotional at the finish, as my father was at home bursting to know how it had gone. He had always been my walking mentor as a kid.

Anyway, this year it is virtual and spread over the weekend. I am bet from walking but picked some of my very favourite places to take on the challenge.

Cancer came knocking on our family door a few years back and really put the frighteners on us. I must have thought of phoning or dropping in to The Solas Centre a thousand times but never did. Just knowing I could meant the world.

Knowing there is a listening ear, empathy, advice, support is so, so important and knowing that it is just a heartbeat away is wonderful, no matter how bad a situation is.

The virtual event is great because I am meeting fellow participants decked out in our orange T-shirts in the most unlikely places.

Today, it’s about waiting for the tide to ebb so I can do my last lap for one of Waterford’s greatest treasures.

The Garda Band in Waterford ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 59

The Garda Band
The Garda Band

Last Thursday, February 7th,  I experienced one of those  unexpected hauntingly beautiful evenings that I suspect will stay in my memory forever.

It was designated ‘A Charity Concert’ in aid of the South Eastern Cancer Foundation ~ Solas Centre, a cause dear to my heart.


So, what was so different about this event?  Well, I went with little expectation ~ in fact, I hadn’t really had time to think about where I was going and suddenly found myself in the Sacred Heart Church on the Folly in Waterford soaking in a musical feast as well as an atmosphere that touched chords in me that I never even knew existed.

On reflection, and I’ve needed to reflect on this, I think that the evening was so special because it really highlighted the power of music in transcending the harsh reality of cancer and difficult aspects of life that so often lie undiscussed.

The Gardai and the people of  Ireland are still trying to come to terms with the recent loss in an awful shooting of Garda Adrian Donohue on January 26th.  Before the concert started there was a poignant minute’s silence in memory of this man and in sympathy with his wife and young family.

The Garda Band, which has been in existence since 1922 with some breaks in between, has a magnetism that I just didn’t expect. Here was a whole other side of the Gardai, playing music, singing, entertaining. There was one really special moment when a lady sitting in front of me rose from her seat and stepped out spontaneously to dance with the Musical Director, Pat Kenny. And could she waltz and jive!

Waterford’s musical talent was also on show on Thursday night with the exquisite  Waterford Peace Choir and Ad Hoc Choirs as well as two young groups from De La Salle College . The De La Salle Duo of Sean Birney and Robin Healy had me thinking of budding Simon and Garfunkel and The De La Salle Trio of Dylan Browne, Ben Jacob and Alex McKenna shone through with young jazz talent, energy and enthusiasm that was almost unbelievable.

I doubt that there were many people in the audience whose lives haven’t been touched in some way by cancer but this was a night on which life, living and  mutual support were centre stage.