Wizards wait for the witching hour

Walking about Roscommon on Friday night, there was a definite sense in the air that something was afoot.             The sign ‘Welcome to Hogsmeade’ as I approached the town, should have been the first clue that something was amiss. As I approached the Square, I noticed Crookshanks sitting on a lamp-post, but thankfully there was no sign of Scabbers with his missing toe.             At both Eason and Roscommon Bookshop, fans queued up for the midnight store opening, purses full of galleons, sickles and knutes, waiting to purchase the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’.             Some opted to take the Knight Bus to get there, while others opted for Floo Powder. Indeed, special racks held a host of Nimbus 2000s – the very latest models – and just beside the door was a key-holder which held a range of portkeys which had transported fans from every corner of the county.             As the town clock struck midnight – the witching hour – bookshop doors flew open and copies of the latest tome began apparating from the bookshelves to the hands of waiting fans. Inside Roscommon Bookshop Hogwarts Librarian Madam Pince toiled behind the counter handing out books to both muggles and mudbloods, while at home, hundreds tuned in to the excitement on the WWN – the Wizarding Wireless Network.             Thankfully ‘He-who-must-not-be-named’ was not in sight, although Severus Snape was to be seen behind the desk at Roscommon Bookshop. Countless parents played the role of Dementors, or should that be demented-ors.             Dylan Madden from Rathcave, Tulsk, was top of the queue outside Roscommon Bookshop. A dedicated Potter enthusiast, two years ago, when Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince was launched, he also topped the queue outside the local bookshop. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him about his favourite potion for topping lengthy queues.             Once again he was accompanied by his dedicated dad Michael and took up his position outside the bookshop at 6.45 p.m., with a wait of over five hours for the store opening. Dylan’s interest in Harry Potter began at the age of seven, when he had the first book in the series read to him. Since then he has taken to the reading game like the proverbial duck to water and expects to read the present tome in two weeks.             While Dylan was taking up his position outside Roscommon Bookshop, Michaela Joyce from Ballymoe and her friends were settling in outside Easons. Now these girls really came prepared, complete with a canvas chair. It was 13-year-old Michaela’s first time to queue up for a book, even though she has been an avid Potter fan since the age of seven.             She was joined outside Eason by her friends Francesca Taylor (13) from Ballymoe and Rebecca Davis (11), also from Ballymoe. Together, the trio must be the backbone of the Harry Potter fan club in Ballymoe. Indeed Francesca has read all of the books nearly twice over! At the launch of the last book, she was in Tipperary and topped the queue at the local bookshop there.             It wasn’t Caithlin Shaw’s first time to queue for a Harry Potter book. The 13-year-old from Portrun was enjoying the experience, especially the reaction of the passers-by. ‘People were looking at us like we had ten heads. One man came up and said it had been cancelled.’ Needless to say, the girls ignored his advice and continued to queue.             Also present outside Eason was Katie Elliffe (9) from Leeside in Ballinaheglish. It was her first time to queue and she was joined by Deirdre Elliffe, Amy O’Connell from Blackstick Road in Roscommon and Emer Nugent from Ballinaheglish.             Keith Mullarney from Lecarrow was there with Bernie Mullarney. A big Harry Potter fan, he had also queued in Roscommon for the previous book launch.             A full report on the Roscommon midnight event has since been presented to Dumbledore by the dutiful Crookshanks, who watched all the witching hour comings and goings for his perch on top of a lamp-post.