A welcome diversion in sunny Kilchreest!

Our man Frank on a double celebration in Kilchreest, the scourge of illegal dumping in the local countryside, and the impact of a recent drugs find on the innocent pastime of plane spotting…

It’s Saturday morning, the sun is literally splitting the stones and we are all heading off to Kilchreest, outside Loughrea, where our granddaughter, Poppy, is having a double celebration. She probably doesn’t know anything about it but she is celebrating her first birthday and is also about to be christened!

Kilchreest will always have a place in my mind because way back in 1982 we all attended the very sad funeral of PJ Forde in the little Galway village. PJ collapsed while playing for Loughrea against Creggs in the Connacht Junior Cup final and sadly passed away later that evening.

Thankfully, our visit on Saturday last was a much more joyous affair and it was one of the few times recently that our family has got together. Lives are so busy now that no matter what people try to organise, there is always someone who can’t make it for whatever reason. This was one of those very rare occasions when all six of us managed to be in the same place at the same time.

I had to pick my son Paul up in Galway as his car was in Creggs, and so I got him to do the driving as he can work the ‘sat nav’ while yours truly ends up arguing with it! And so, as part of our lovely tour of south Galway, we passed through beautifully kept villages of Kilcolgan, Clarinbridge and Ardrahan. Of course, being such a warm day, my eyes were drawn to some of the very attractive and welcoming looking pubs in all three of those little towns. I could imagine how nice it would be to sit on a high stool and partake of their welcome hospitality and a lovely cold pint of whatever. It was just wishful thinking on my part!

As for the drive itself, Paul and I were getting on grand until we came to a dreaded ‘Road Closed’ sign. ‘Diverted Traffic’ signs guided us this way and that before we came to a T junction…and that’s where it all became a bit confusing for Paul, myself and even the sat nav! There were two ‘Diverted Traffic’ signs in place of course…both pointing in opposite directions. Cue puzzlement in the car until Paul managed to figure it out from Google Maps and get us going in the right direction once again!

Thankfully, we arrived at the church in good time to christen young Poppy before adjourning for a barbeque and a few ice-cold glasses of the non-alcoholic variety. We all bade each other farewell and in that moment I wondered when our paths would diverge once again. As it happens, it won’t actually be too long as Mark, our eldest, is getting married to Aoife in Spain in early September.

As for the christening, Poppy didn’t particularly like getting her head wet but she stayed very quiet through it all and as all good babies should, she slept through most of the subsequent celebrations!


Please keep our countryside beautiful!

One of the things that always amazes me is how some people can remember so much about their childhood while I have to admit that a lot of my early life is clouded by the mists of time, and in truth I can only recall odd bits and pieces of those times long ago.

However, one thing I do remember is the couple of hazelnut trees in the corner of Featherstone’s church field, which is now home to a nice housing estate. As a young lad I loved to go and pick the nuts when they would ripen in the months of either September or October, depending on the weather.

I have never lost my fondness of the hazelnut and on our walks up the lovely rural roads of Lenamarla in Creggs there are several of those trees lining the roadside – however for the last couple of years there have been very few nuts on them and you would have to really search hard to find any at all.

And so, even though it’s still only August and obviously the nuts have yet to ripen, I couldn’t get over the amount of them that are already appearing on the trees this year – they are everywhere and I wonder was it the extremely hot weather that has brought them out in such numbers? I don’t know if the birds eat them but if not I look forward to a bumper hazelnut feed in the autumn.

The other thing that amazes me on those walks is the extraordinary array of plants and flowers that are to be seen and I often wonder who planted them or how they got there. Nowadays people are going to garden centres to buy all kinds of stuff for their gardens but in the old days plants and flowers and trees seemed to spring up everywhere. During our walks we saw beautiful roses in the hedges which reappear every year without anyone looking after them and year in, year out, there is the most wonderful array of glorious scented flowers.

Unfortunately, while on a recent walk in Lenamarla, I was disappointed to find that illegal dumping is still going on up there. Plastics bottles and bags are always to be found on the roadside and in the ditches but on this particular morning someone had dumped an electrical item, some sort of machine that looked like a blender or a mixer. I know waste charges are fairly prohibitive but you can bring electrical items to the landfill on the Lanesboro Road in Roscommon and get rid of it for nothing.

As I get older, I appreciate more and more the environment we are so lucky to live in, and I would appeal to everyone to try to keep our countryside looking as nice and pretty as possible. Throwing rubbish around is not the answer and needs to be stopped immediately.


Finally for this week…

It’s amazing how a seemingly minor event can change one’s perspective on something. The other day, as a small plane flew around the area, I found myself thinking of the recent major drugs find in County Longford.

I used to just assume that all of those small aircrafts were taking part in some innocent venture, such as taking ordnance survey photographs and the like (and of course the vast majority are!). But after the discovery of €8.5 million worth of cocaine on a single engine Cessna in Abbeyshrule recently, I can’t help but be slightly suspicious of every little plane flying overhead!

It seems that every entry point into Ireland, whether by land, sea, or air is being used by big drug gangs to flood this country with their poison, and even small rural towns and villages are now fair game. So now, as I look skywards, I feel as though even the innocent act of plane spotting has been tarnished by this latest discovery.


‘Till next week, Bye for now!