Eily’s Report – 12th January

Dia is Mhuire díobh go léir a chairde, and welcome to my weekly report.

It was a very nice surprise to see the ground covered in a blanket of snow when we got up one morning last week. For various reasons  not everybody likes the snow but nobody can deny that it adds a mighty swell to the mood  with it’s all over cover of the land making everything look bright and beautiful. The overhead images taken by drone over the hills and dales of our rural areas painted a very special picture. The light fall of snow pointing out the details of the various features of mountains and valleys. The loop walks which have been so lovingly carved out on the mountains in recent years for our pleasure are plain to see with the naked eye. They are there for everybody to enjoy, either in the heart of cold  winter or the height of a warm summers day.  The  aerial view is a great help to those who are planning to take to the hills. Thanks to those who share their findings via the drone with everybody.   A young family got the thrill of a lifetime last week when on a visit to Coomatrush lake to find that the recent frost had turned the mighty waterfall into a fairyland of icicles, all glistening in the midday sun.  We are urged to stay in at all costs, not an easy thing to do. So we each have to work out a plan of our own to deal with the Covid problem. T.G we have phones and we can talk all day and night if we like without endangering anyone, we can even see one another . I thought I’d heard it all this week when two of my great grand children played games together, one in Cork and the other in Perth, Australia and my daughter in Cork was able to let me see them playing on her phone.  Their laughter had to be heard/seen to be  believed.

I’m still engaged in a Jigsaw, this one is  different. Consisting of a thousand pieces, its a family photo which one of the family got made into a jigsaw for me  for Christmas. Among other things I’ve got some nice books to read. I like reading about royalty and so on.  It’s an education in itself to see how they live and in the end I wouldn’t swop with them for anything. But it all helps to keep the spirits up.

The Christmas decorations were normally taken down after the Feast of the Epiphany on January the sixth. But this year because of the way things are, Christmas lights in towns are allowed to stay for a little while longer so as to prolong the joy that always comes with the Festive Season. Out in rural areas we kept the old custom of sticking to the normal date. We don’t use as much greenery to decorate our homes as we did long ago. The commercial world has changed our thinking and our Christmases are more like tinseltown than the simple homely efforts of old with the single candle in the window.  But we cant say but they look beautiful. To look around the Countryside after dark any evening at Christmas time the scene can be so uplifting as more and more homes appear in view. It reminds me in one way of the days when everybody started their day by lighting the fire first thing in the morning. One by one  the smoke could be seen rising up to the sky as folks prepared to meet another day. It often created a talking point, ‘the Murphy’s were up before us this morning, or the Smiths didn’t get up yet, but sure they don’t get up till dinner time any day and “he’ll be late at the kramery(creamery) again today”  We never spared the holly and ivy for decorating the houses. The candle, the Sacred Heart Picture and any other hook or crook that would hold a branch would get a helping of the beautiful shiny green plant with its bright red berries. Country people brought a supply to their cousins in the town and they would often ask for a sprig for their neighbour. But come the end of the first week of January and all decor was taken down. The little handmade paper streamers and all the greenery which by then would be a long way from its bright and glossy days. How I loved the burning of them. Burning the Christmas as it was popularly called. Women would meet at Mass and ask, “did you burn the Christmas yet?”, I loved the  piney smell of the burning twigs and the crackling that they made.  I’d make sure that I was always nearby when it was happening. But alas there was often a  disaster when the big supply of tender dry branches created  a blaze and set fire to the chimney. The billowing flames going out the top were enough to let the whole countryside know that you didn’t clean you chimney for Christmas, oh shame of shames. There were lots of people living in every house that time so in no time the buckets of water were brought along at high speed  the fire was put out and in no time the house was in order again.

January is a good time to start Spring Cleaning and on this unusual year we can hardly say we have no time. Everybody is compelled to stay at home and to give the family dwelling a facelift could be just the way to banish the blues. To get rid of unwanted clothes etc may be a good place to start, I found myself in possession of a fine cardboard box which came with some of the Christmas stuff and it came in so handy to take many items which can be taken to the Thrift Shop when it opens again. The  proceeds of the Thrift Shop  goes the Sheltered Housing Fund and they always welcome good reusable stock packed in boxes.

Full marks to Paddy Murphy I mentioned earlier that he was travelling around the area with his little recorder collecting songs and stories which were in danger of being lost and with great success I must say. Further to that this week Paddy unearthed some copies  of concerts which were  staged for the Tops of the Parish contest back in the mid-80s. The first one out was the one by Cloghoula . Go into Youtube type in Cloghoula, Millstreet Television, Tops of the Town and it pops up. As is only to be expected the quality is not great but it is still a very exciting feature. Sadly some members of the ‘cast’ are no longer with us while others travelled to many parts of the world . Very soon the word went round that the show was on the screen and it  went viral. The Drishane entry has come on stream also and I’m sure there will be more. The return of these shows never came at a better time, when people are in need of  a lift and the amount of contacts made about them is very uplifting.  It is all thanks to Liam Coffee who recorded so much local stuff in that era. But it took Paddy Murphy to source them and bring them out to the people. I’m sure there are many more jewels of the past lying quietly in drawers and boxes, waiting for the time when they will get another airing, and nowadays we have the press button technology to do it.

The Covid Virus isn’t getting any better,  warnings get more severe  all the time and every day we hear of more and more people getting the scourge which has hit the world. We must be vigilant at all times and listen attentively to what the experts are telling us. People complain and critise the powers that be for the way they hand out the advise and the warnings, many saying that they only confuse us the way they keep on changing their story, but what can they do when the situation around them keeps on changing. There are those who do not keep the rules and pass the bug on and on to others. Please God the vaccine will soon come to  the whole country, it’s the only thing that is giving us any concrete hope at the moment. The goodness of people continues to bring comfort to lots of people. My postman brings  me the paper from Centra in the West End every day and anything else that I may need from the shop. We had a team of volunteers at our service last Spring when the virus came first. People who would take a call from anybody who was in need, and they are once again at the ready if needed . Liam Flynn , 0876380053 and Jeramiah Keating 0877932736  served us well then and are still at the ready to come back  again if we need them .

We miss our Masses since the church  doors have to remain closed. It is a very sad situation but has to be done in the interest of safety. But it is still lovely to be able to get our Masses streamed  into our homes. In surfing the net it is interesting to see how church services are streamed all over the World.  I got mass one day  from a church in Canberra in Australia, where the prayers and hymns were the very same as those at home, making us all feel as one. But there is nothing like our own Mass from our own beautiful Church.   We must  keep up our prayers, pray that the Good Lord will see us safely through this global pandemic  and bring the all-important vaccine to us very soon.

Check our website every day and keep in the know about all that is happening. Don’t miss Sean Radley’s shows twice a week on Cork Music Station. Tonight from 9.30 to after 11 and on Sundays following 11.30 Mass. Give Sean a ring during his show and he will send a message to your loved ones  who couldn’t come home for Christmas from any part of the world.

Our deepest sympathy goes to the families of those who passed away in recent times.  May the Good Lord console them in their grief and grant their loved ones  Eternal Rest.

Slán agus Beannacht libh go léir.

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