As I settled down to watch the Late Late on Friday night, I have to admit that my expectations could hardly have been lower, with a line-up of reasonably well-known, but hardly exciting, musical guests, a couple of others like our ex-President, Mary McAleese, still no live audience, and Ryan Tubridy understandably struggling to generate any real atmosphere. But what I didn’t know at the time was that the show was essentially a nationwide appeal on behalf of Pieta House, and by the time I climbed the stairs to hit for the bed, I was on such a high at the success of the show and the generosity of the Irish people.
Almost €2 million was raised over the two-hour duration of the show, money that will go to fund essential therapy hours at Pieta House, and ensure that their 24/7 crisis line remains open.
Under normal circumstances the annual Darkness Into Light Walk would have taken place on Friday night/Saturday morning, and more than 250,000 people were scheduled to take part over five continents. Last year the walk raised more than €6 million. This year, Covid-19 meant that everything was called off and the entire fundraising effort collapsed.
Back in 1992, six top female Irish artists released an album – ‘A Woman’s Heart’ – which sold more copies than any other album in Irish chart history. Three of the original artists, Mary and Frances Black, and Sharon Shannon, along with Blues singer, Mary Coughlan, were guests on Friday night. Three of the four have struggled with addictions, leading to mental health problems, and all talked about needing and getting help. Along with Pieta attendee, Paul McEvoy, they put the message out very strongly that the help is out there – it’s a matter of seeking it out.
Every one of us knows someone who is struggling – oftentimes it can get too much, so we should all try to be aware, look out for telltale signs, and do what we can to help people. But oftentimes it takes real counsellors, like those at Pieta House, to give such sufferers the help and support they need.
Anyway, it was an amazing response by the Irish people. I was so inspired by the whole effort that I got up at 5.15 am to do my own Darkness into Light walk, and for the first time in my life I actually paid attention to and appreciated the famous Dawn Chorus. For years I have listened to Derek Mooney and others tell us about the wonder and beauty of the Dawn Chorus, but until now I had never experienced it, and indeed thought it was all pie in the sky.
On Saturday morning as I went down the stairs the only sound I could hear was that of a pigeon who never seems to shut up, and whose irritating cooing would make you want to go back to bed. By the time I went inside again, the entire ‘bird world’ had come alive, all had burst into song, and it was just the most amazing and delightful cacophony of sound, and something that I will remember for a long time. At the risk of upsetting all those who felt I was gone ‘cuckoo’ last September when I told you all that I had heard the distinctive sound of the migratory bird, I am convinced that in the midst of all the other voices I once again heard the sound of the cuckoo. I’m certain, this time. Mind you, I haven’t heard it since, but I’m sure I will.
Recalling Munster magic
Last week I wrote that I’d list the top ten sporting moments I’ve seen throughout my life. Here is number two: Munster winning their first Heineken Cup in Cardiff in 2006, beating Biarritz 23-19. I was lucky enough to be present and will never forget the atmosphere and sheer excitement as the men in red took the title.
The remarkable scenes from O’Connell Street in Limerick were shown live on giant screens in the Millennium Stadium, while more than 40,000 supporters turned out in Limerick for the homecoming. For us who were there the craic was a lot more than ninety. It was a momentous occasion.
Wishing Michael a happy and healthy retirement
Finally for this week, last Friday, 8th of May, after 40 years’ dedicated service to the people of Creggs and its surrounding areas, our local postman, Michael Meeley, retired from An Post. As I write this on Tuesday morning he is (hopefully) celebrating his 66th birthday. Michael arrived in Creggs all those years ago joining up with legends Sean ‘Bags’ Keegan, Bunty Keegan and Tommy Rhatigan, and some years later (as they all retired) he found himself serving the entire area.
Married to Kathleen, they are parents to four children, of whom two (Michelle and Damian) followed Michael into the postal service. Meanwhile, Lorraine lives in Galway, and Maria in Wicklow. Sadly, due to the coronavirus, there could be no celebrations – either at home or in Creggs – to mark the end of a wonderful career – and for us, the end of an era.
Michael always had a smile on his face and a word for everyone, and he will be sadly missed around here, but hopefully sometime in the near future we will get the chance to have a function to give us all the opportunity to say thanks and goodbye and wish him and his family well for the future. He has been a little unwell for the last few weeks, and was off sick, so he was very disappointed not to get the chance to say goodbye to his many friends. The good news is that he is fully recovered, and as I say, please God some time soon we will all be able to thank him personally.
In the meantime Michael, thanks for all your dedication and commitment over such a long time, enjoy your retirement, mind yourself and Kathleen, and we’ll see you out walking for many years to come.