‘A day in the bog’ – an update, sixty years on!

Our man Frank lets the busy world do its own thing as he enjoys downtime on the bog; Muses on the ‘arm the police’ debate; And writes in celebration of ‘golden girl’ Aoife O’Rourke’s latest success…

It’s the start of July, and on this Monday morning I can be found in the bog turning my turf. As I do so, I think back to my national school days, and the number of times we wrote compositions on ‘A day in the bog’.

Nearly all the compositions took the same path: talking about the lovely fresh air, the sound of the lark singing in the clear blue sky, the purple heather swaying in the breeze, the lovely bottles of tea that our mothers brought us to have with the equally lovely sandwiches they had made for our midday break, and no matter what happened, we always went home tired but happy at the end of a long day.

And so, on this Monday morning, I wondered what had happened to me! As I struggled to turn my big wet sods without breaking them too badly – which of course would make them that bit harder to foot – and as the rain fell gently on my aching back, I couldn’t hear any lark singing anywhere, the purple heather was nowhere to be seen, and my mother is long gone from this world, so there would be no bottles of tea or sandwiches. Really, the only thing that hasn’t changed is the lovely fresh air, which I have to admit is still very therapeutic.

But despite all the changes – especially the fact that I am to all intents and purposes an old man, which might explain my aching back – I really enjoyed my time there. In the distance, I could hear the never-ending traffic passing by – people on their journeys to God knows where – while I revelled in the peace and quiet of the boglands, with not a soul anywhere near to annoy me.

As I write this, I have the turf all turned, but in truth it is still too wet to foot it. All I can do is hope for a good spell of nice sunshine, with a fresh accompanying breeze, and in a week or two I will be back again – maybe not as enthusiastic as when I was a national school boy, but nonetheless glad of the special feeling  that a day in the bog can give.

Talking of big wet sods, the truth is that where I have my turf is probably the best place anywhere in the country for it; the ground is so good that it would be very hard not to get it all saved, which is a very long way removed from the many turf plots my father took when I was a young lad.

In some of them, there would be a realistic chance of being drowned, so wet were the banks, and oftentimes when we had somehow managed to get it out and then brought it home, not even the world’s greatest arsonist would get it to light. Then there were times it would burn like paper, and my mother would be wondering how it had gone so quickly. So as I look forward to burning some of the best quality black turf this winter, I realise I have very little to complain about.

When I write my next ‘A day in the bog’ composition, it will be exactly like the ones I wrote more than sixty years ago: all will be good in the bog world, and I will go home tired but happy after a long day.


A healthy – and heartening – turnout!

It’s Wednesday (of last week) as I write, and as I told you in a previous piece, our local Garda Brian Neilan has arranged for the Irish Heart Foundation’s Mobile Unit to visit Creggs and check us all for various things such as our pulse rates, and also to advise on how we can look after ourselves a bit better.

For some reason, Brian was a bit apprehensive as to whether or not the local people would turn out for the visit, but he needn’t have worried. All day long, young and old attended – so much so that there was a queue outside the Heritage Centre more or less from opening time to closing time. In fact, the truth is that despite turning up on two occasions to get my pulse checked, I didn’t actually get it done at all, so busy was the service!

Anyway, it was a great success. Loads of our locals got an MOT, and hopefully all passed with flying colours. Fair play to Brian for being instrumental in getting the mobile unit to Creggs. Hopefully it will be a regular occurrence in the future!


Why we shouldn’t arm our Gardaí

In November of last year, our Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would “absolutely say yes” if the Minister for Justice or the Garda Commissioner asked him to supply rank and file members of the Gardaí with weapons. Thankfully however, the General Secretary of the Association of Gardaí and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, said she saw no reason to change the status quo, and that to go from a relatively unarmed police force to a fully armed one would be a step too far.

While there is no doubt that there are times when our Armed Support Unit is required, the actions of armed police have shown time and again that arms in the wrong hands can have appalling consequences – particularly in America, but also last week in France with the fatal shooting of 17-year-old youth Nahel Merzouk, who was shot dead by police when he tried to drive away from a traffic stop. The killing of the French teenager has resulted in several days of riots all over the country, with reports of arson, looting, and all kinds of criminal activity, including an outrageous attempt to set fire to the home of Paris Mayor Vincent Jeanbrun while his wife and two children were sleeping inside, resulting in injury to his wife and one child.

The cold-blooded shooting of the young delivery driver Nahel would obviously not have happened if the policeman was unarmed, and four nights of violent unrest, costing millions of euro, would never have occurred either.

However, a very disquieting fact about the whole affair is that a GoFundMe page set up to help the officer who “executed” the young French lad with an Algerian background has surpassed €1 million, while the fund initiated to help the victim’s family is at less than €200,000.

Many people say the killing is symptomatic of widespread racism against ethnic minorities in France, but regardless of the cause, the truth is that guns in the wrong hands, even those of police, can be very dangerous. I for one don’t want to see an armed guard on the street in Creggs.


And finally…

What a proud week it is for the townland of Tarmon, the town of Castlerea, the county of Roscommon, the province of Connacht, and indeed the whole of Ireland, as Aoife O’Rourke is once again a gold medal winner in the middleweight boxing class of the European Championships.

The O’Rourke sisters, Lisa and Aoife, have become two of our greatest sports stars ever, and have continually brought amazing success to the Castlerea area. So once again, heartiest congratulations to Aoife and the O’Rourke family, and here’s to even more success at the French Olympics in 2024!

Up here in Creggs, their dad Kevin and mother Anne have long been stalwarts of our rugby club, and I must say that this fantastic success story couldn’t happen to better people!