Keeping the home (bon)fires burning

The first time I took notice of the local tradition of bonfires at weddings, was at my brother Peadar’s wedding to Theresa, which must be close to forty years ago, when I got such a surprise to see one, as I came round a corner a few miles out of Creggs, that I very nearly lost control of my new 12-year-old car and almost drove straight into the massive blaze.

Thankfully I avoided the fire, but, as that was the first wedding I had ever been invited to, I took it for granted that bonfires must be part of the tradition all around the country.

I found out that I had made an incorrect assumption, on the occasion of my own wedding to Carol 35 years ago, in August, when friends who had travelled from different parts of Ireland couldn’t get over the sight of bonfires all over the place – I remember some of them wondering at how dangerous they were and they couldn’t understand how they were allowed at all, but at the same time thought it was a lovely local touch.

My late neighbour in Crosswell Bernadette Keany, who had a little shop just down the road from me, was the woman who kept the bonfire tradition going year in year out in our little village, and hail, rain or snow, Bernie always had her fire lit – occasionally the cavalcade mightn’t be passing our way at all which would disappoint her greatly, but nothing deterred her, and for every local wedding out came The Bernie Bonfire.

Fast-forward to last Friday morning and if you had passed my house from 12.30 onwards you would have seen a strange looking man (me) lovingly tending a fire that, at times, looked like an out of control forest fire but, at other times, looked as if it was on its last legs, as myself and my neighbour, Gibby (Jacinta Hanley) piled on papers, magazines, bits of timber and turf, and even handfuls of wet hay in an effort to keep our bonfire alive.

The occasion was the wedding of our neighbour Julie Keegan to Kilmore man Aidan Brennan, and I have to sadly admit that, after our herculean efforts, by the time the wedding parts passed by, our fire consisted of just a few fading wisps of smoke – it didn’t matter however, we had kept Bernie’s tradition alive, and, for all future weddings I promise to do better.

A quick change after the shower to try and get rid of the smell of smoke, and off with us to the Country Club Hotel in Glasson outside of Athlone. Now I’m working in Athlone for ten of twelve years, but I never realised that such a gem existed and I confess that I was totally amazed at the wonderful facility – the adjoining golf club looked brilliant and the scenery, looking out over the lake, was truly spectacular.

The reception inside was just as good as the outside had suggested it might be, and the almost 300 guests had a superb meal, and yet again, yours truly surpassed himself at the dinner table. I missed out on the wonderful music of The Busy Fingers band, as, sadly I was pencilled in for work on Saturday morning, but according to all reports it was a great night’s craic.

To Aidan and Julie we wish you a long happy and healthy life together, and I’m off to enrol in a bonfire-lighting class.

Open Day at Donamon Castle

Sticking with The Busy Fingers band, and Sean Beirne tells me that the Donamon Castle Open Day is on next Sunday week, 26th July and The Busy Fingers are among the many musical acts, which also includes The Conquerors, The Heebie Jeebies, Patsy McCaul and The Castlerea Brass Band.

The Duggan School of Dancers, who are stars of TG4 and The World of Dancing Championships and who were absolutely fantastic in Donamon last year, are back again, and whatever you do, don’t miss them. The whole thing kicks off with Mass at 12.30 pm.

Castlerea legend Danny Burke is MC and parking and entry is still free – for the children there is face painting, bouncy castle, pony rides, and Bozo the Clown, while you can also see some lamas and eagles.

A big draw, with €1,500 as first prize, will take place on the day. Tickets will be on sale and the very popular book stall will also be open for business, you can go on a guided tour of the castle itself, and for the first time the Inland Fisheries Board will have a display of the fish that can be found in the River Suck. It’s an amazing day’s entertainment with free parking, and free entry, so pencil it in, and I’ll see you all there.

No tie-break for Lewis at Wimbledon

Changing subject slightly, and on today’s papers it’s interesting to see that no matter who you are, if you don’t tog out properly when you are invited to The Royal Box in Wimbledon, you won’t get in.

World champion motor racing driver Lewis Hamilton was among a select group of guests invited to watch the Men’s Singles Final from the exclusive Centre Court area, but, unfortunately he didn’t dress properly for the occasion, and he was simply not let in.

Apparently you have to wear a tie, a jacket and shoes (no mention of trousers but I’d say you should wear a pair of them as well) and our man Lewis didn’t have either a jacket or tie, although he had a hat, and so there was no way in.

I am surprised that a man of his wealth couldn’t have a tie and a jacket delivered fairly quickly, but maybe it wasn’t possible! Anyway it proves that, in Wimbledon, you had better toe the line, which is appropriate enough if you think about it.

And finally…

Finally for this week, it was a good weekend for our local footballers who beat Ballinameen in the Junior Championship in Tulsk on Saturday evening! Also for Galway who went to Armagh and won, and for all those who want John Evans out in Roscommon – I’d say they might just get their way.

‘Til next week,

Bye for now