Eily’s Report – 8th February

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

Will it come or will it not. Is it going to snow?  The cold breeze would make you think it would, children are hoping that it will but only time will tell. The world knows there is nothing as nice to look at as a beautiful cover of virgin white snow making everything look so pure and clean and in times past it was always welcomed in time of colds and flu in the hope that the cold snap would kill the bugs. If only we could believe that it would wipe out Covid19, we would put up with a month of it. But alas there is little proof that it would. This time last year coronavirus, as it was called at the time, was little more than a rumour. Something that was happening in China or somewhere. So far away that it was not worth the trouble to get any details. We were still getting on with our everyday lives, the Community Council was getting ready for St.Patrick’s Day, rounding up to finance the parade. The sporting world was gearing up for the season ahead. Hotel’s were taking bookings for parties and family gatherings. The elderly meeting every week for their regular coffee at the hotel and catching up with the latest news and bits of gossip, but now and then there would be a faint mention of the ‘thing’ that was happening in China or ‘somewhere’. As the time went on there were little warnings going out in low tones, to say that we’d want to be careful, cut down our outings, our close mixing with others, which seemed at the time to be the most ridiculous thing we ever heard. After all , the world was just waking up to the importance of people opening up to people, not avoiding them. I can remember the discussion going on at one of our weekly coffee mornings. How about next week, will we come  and the unanimous response was, indeed we will, nothing’s going to stop us from our regular chinwag. But alas by the time the next week came, the penny , or should I say the clanger, had dropped. All of a sudden, China didn’t seem that far away  and it wasn’t the rumours that were spreading now, but a virus. Which they called Covod19 and the rest is history.   That was only one short year ago. How things have changed since then.

The loss of so many things, due to covid has made us take another look at the many things that we had no time for when the world was busy. Because we cannot go to Mass in our churches like we used to, the wonderful invention of streaming has brought our Masses into our homes and now we can attend any time we like from any part of the world. The Holy hour on Friday evening last in our own church was a wonderful reminder of Holy hours of the past and the Benediction, how we’d sing the tantum ergo with bursting hearts, even though we didn’t know what the words meant. But how awful is must have been for our Canon John to sit alone in that vast building in the heel of the evening. Next Thursday February 11th. is very special also, it’s the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes and world Day of the sick.  A day in which we must all put our shoulders to the wheel and pray for the sick and for those who look after them in their homes and state homes, the healthcare workers who have to work in terrible conditions in overcrowded hospitals and pray for all those who find it difficult to obey the rules.

While it has it’s sacrifices, it’s easy enough for people the likes of me to stick to the rules. Advanced years have their own advantages in times like these. Younger people have their whole lives ahead of them, they have plans and they want to be living them. Some to the extent that they’re willing to write convincing notes which could enable to pass through at the airport saying they have work waiting for them abroad, only to get found out and finish up with a heavy fine or worse. How lucky am I that I don’t feel that I must have a holiday and that I’ve made a vow never to fly again. I’m quite pleased and satisfied with the amount of foreign travel that I have done and can relive the memories any time and now I can enjoy a wealth of faraway places on the telly with the likes of Joanna Lumley who takes me through the innermost details of places like India or the train journeys of the world with the cool ex-politician Michael Portillo.  Gordan Ramsey and his two friends are putting on some hair-raising escapades at the moment and I never miss their repeats giving me double joy every time as I enjoy my leisurely tipple in my comfortable recliner. I think one of the most hair-raising experience we ever had was in Salzburg, as we embarked on a three week tour of Europe to celebrate our retirement from farming. Before we left a much –travelled friend told us not to miss the salt mines in Salzburg. So after seeing the sights above ground not least the fine statue of Mozart in the city Square, we ventured off to the salt mines where you get on a little train like you’d get on a pony or donkey.  Glued to the person in front of you and the one  behind and away you’re taken into the bowls of the mountain with your head down because the little tunnel is only  the fit of the locomotive. In time you come out into a bid wide opening much like a theatre and after a look around you are ushered along  in the dimly lit place to what looked like the top of the stairs before you know it you’re sitting on the bannister and wham a sudden drop of over hundred feet  lands you down to the next level below. Other ‘Drops’ were to follow. This was how the workers went to work, when the mine was being used . Using a  stairs would take too much time .  The surroundings are stupendous and well worth the near heart-attack means of getting there. One of those once-in–lifetime adventures ,and worth it.

We have St. Valentines Day coming up on Sunday, this will be the second year that it will have to be trimmed down  and when you think of the great fun-loving occasion that it used to be. Cards and flowers and chocolates oozing with loving messages being delivered with no name included. Sending young minds racing into raptures of glee, dreaming of someone special the joy of being remembered.  The ghastly thing about of course was, that maybe it didn’t come from that source at all. But regulations or no regulations  I am confident that many gestures of love will still be sent and received on Sunday. Facebook, e-mailing, twitter and God knows how many more systems of communication will help to fill the void created by covid19.  But the bug won’t be with us forever and with the coming of the vaccine there is light at the end of the tunnel. Already the number of deaths and new cases is coming down which is enough to tell us that what we are doing is working. The jab program is ruled by age starting from the top, so for the first time in my life my advanced years is becoming an advantage and I’m sure that when it comes to me and others like me, then all eyes will be upon us for any signs of an effect. Like the flu injection ,which acts in different ways in different people, I’m sure the jab will be no different. It’s a first, an historic event and please God if all goes to plan, we will be celebrating  big time before this year is out.

It’s early days in Spring yet, but just the same things are astir in the garden. There is a noticeable growth in the lawn  it looks greener and  the blades of  grass  beginning to shine in the noonday sun. Some hardy plants sending out lovely new shoots, while the little violas continue to blossom without fail. The birds continue to put on a free show all day long. Funny I’ve noticed that the small birds are out much earlier than the crows in the morning. Which gives me the chance to throw some seeds to the ones who can’t feed off the peanuts and they’re finished by the time the black brigade show up. I had a new experience with the crows last week. I always give them my left-over food and this  time I had some boiled spaghetti left over. So next day I deposited it out on the grass. You know the way it is with spaghetti, it all sticks together a bit when its cold in a bowl. Anyway I watched my feathered friends and when they came they looked at this strange looking stuff with great suspicion. Not even touching it for ages. Then the leader of the pack chanced a peck and when he did the whole thing spread out in strings. While still getting no back-up from his crew he tried again this time coming away with one ‘string’, which he tried to swallow and swallow and swallow and still it kept coming, Eventually help cut in and it was only when they started to work together pulling in different directions that they got it finished, it was ok in clumps, once they knew what it was, but the single bit they couldn’t manage alone.  I’d say that spaghetti is off the rooks menu in future.

The passing of the renowned Johnnie O’Keeffe was deeply felt by all sections of our Community last week. He was such a gentle giant of a man  and in his own quiet way he leant himself to everything that went on in the town that he loved so well.  His unassuming profile can be seen in every photo of the life of Millstreet since he was a child over ninety years ago. He never found it necessary to leave Millstreet. He earned his living here and spared no time nor energy to make Millstreet a better place. Himself and his beloved Lena were the perfect match. Their interests were twinned and their contribution to our community is immense. His funeral had to remain restricted, but as Canon John said at his Mass, ‘If times were right, this church would be full to the door’. But not to be outdone the people of Millstreet lined the route from the Church all the way to St. Mary’s cemetery where Johnnie O’Keeffe’s body was laid to rest beside his beloved Lena. May they both Rest in Peace.

My sincere sympathy goes also to my dear son-in-law Mick Dunne on the death of his Brother-in-law retired Garda Dan O’Callaghan who was stationed in Knocknagree for a number of years. RIP.

And our loving thoughts and prayers go to all those who are sick in the parish some receiving treatment. Please remember them at the many Masses which are said on line every day.

Next week we’ll have Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday.

Slán agus Beannacht libh go léir

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