Maybe we need to return to some of the old ways!

Our man Frank on how we survived in the past in colder homes; In praise of parish (GAA) pride; A wet Bank Holiday Monday…

It’s a beautiful Sunday evening, and as I relax in the warmth of the July sun, my mind is on the energy crisis and the impending trauma that we all (but particularly us older folk) are going to face when winter comes and we have to try to heat our houses.

Everywhere we look, the headlines are about the cost of heating oil and the huge jump in the price of building materials, including everything to do with home insulation. With all the recent uncertainty about the future of coal and turf, you could be forgiven for thinking that we’ll be lucky if we don’t freeze to death between now and Christmas!

And yet, is there anything to be worried about at all? Everyone my age was born into houses that had no wall or roof insulation, no radiators, or other heating systems. We relied solely on a few open fires and a Rayburn range, or something similar.

Back in my youth, it was not uncommon to wake in the morning to the sight of icicles hanging from the bedroom windows. It was a regular occurrence that the pond across the road in Featherstone’s field would be frozen so solidly that we could walk, or skate, or even play football on the frozen surface.

I have to say that it is a good few years since we had a winter where the lakes were frozen and turned into a winter wonderland/sports paradise. The funny thing is that we were none the worse for not having all the home heating that everyone takes for granted now, when it is an absolute must-have! In my experience, the worst feeling of all was being stuck in tiny offices that had the central heating turned up to the last, where fresh air was at a premium.

In my young days, there was a very simple solution to combating the cold – i.e. wearing some extra clothes. And remarkably, we made it through the winters, which were definitely much more severe than the ones we get now.

Maybe we’ve all just gone a bit soft. We’re now so used to all this heat that we think we won’t survive a winter just because everything has become so dear. However, I am of the opinion that a return to the ways of yesteryear would do no harm, and it would lead to giving out less about the rising costs, at least for a while.

If my generation could survive in poorer, colder houses, then surely it shouldn’t be beyond this much better off generation to get through what may admittedly be a more difficult winter than normal.


Parish pride!

One of the great things about the GAA is the parochial feel to it. The fact that every parish (even a half-parish like Creggs) has its own club is a huge source of local pride, and nothing stirs the population (small as it may be) like a full-blooded county championship match.

The success or otherwise of a county team is a welcome distraction, but for most clubs (especially the small rural ones) nothing can compare to the winning of a county championship – and the truth is that it doesn’t really matter what grade it was won at!

As a player, I won an U-21 medal in 1971 with the full parish team of Creggs/Glinsk, and in 1983 I completed my tally with a Junior Championship win with Creggs. Half a century later, I still have very fond memories of both victories and the subsequent celebrations.

Now I was no David Clifford, but when I read about his appearance (along with his brother Paudie, both All-Ireland winners with Kerry as of just over a week ago) for their club Fossa in the Kerry junior football championship against Listowel last weekend, I realised how big a deal it is to play for your local parish team. One could forgive the biggest name in county football for passing on such a game, but it just shows how much it meant to David and Paudie that they would turn out for their little club just a week after their All-Ireland glory.

I can only wonder how the corner-back or full-back for Listowel slept the night before the game! If I were either of them, I’d have gone to the pub and had five or six pints of good Guinness in the hope it might put me to sleep. The thought of marking either of the Cliffords at junior level could have a detrimental effect on a fellow’s mind!

Anyway, as clubs get ready to make their bow in this year’s Roscommon championship, let’s hope for a lot of good, hard championship games – and that Creggs will win the Intermediate title!


Bogged down with Bank Holiday weather

It’s now Bank Holiday Monday as I write, and earlier today I made an unsuccessful trip to the bog to bring home some of the turf.

Just as we got there the heavens opened down on us, and after a little deliberation we decided to abort the mission. However, it might have been just as well, as I still needed to tidy up the turf shed. So I spent a few hours labouring away, clearing out all the rubbish and stuff, all the while listening to the sound of the rain banging off the galvanised roof.

As I listened to the continuous rainfall, my heart went out to all the show and festival committees all over the place who had big events planned for the August Bank Holiday Monday. The one that immediately sprung to mind for our locality was the Fair Day in Ballygar, that and the agricultural show in Castlerea.

Meanwhile, over in Bonniconlon they were expecting up to 30,000 people to attend their spectacular show. Mike Denver, Declan Nerney and Seamus Moore, among others, were to entertain the anticipated crowd, but somehow I would imagine the terrible day would have upset a lot of well-laid plans.

It has to be soul-destroying to be hit with this type of appalling weather on the one day you really need it to be good. After months of planning, it isn’t too much to hope for that the first day of August would be fine.

Thankfully, I know that for all the dances and events in both Ballygar and Castlerea, the crowds were out in abundance. Despite the disappointment of the day’s downpours, both festivals were a huge success.

Once upon a time, the Creggs carnival would start immediately after Ballygar! Sadly however, those days are long gone, and like so many other local carnivals, our one is but a distant – albeit very pleasant –memory.


And finally…

Our local mountain area, Mount Mary, has suffered greatly recently with the deaths of Mary Ward and Danny Brennan, both of whom were popular members of our community. Further afield, over in Portrun, Gerry Hanlon, husband of my national school classmate Theresa Cunniffe, also died recently.

To all their relatives and many friends, I express my deepest sympathies. May they rest in peace.