Endless supply of the glory days of summer
By: Cormac MacConnell | Published Wednesday, July 7, 2010, 12:10 PM | Updated Sunday, August 4, 2013, 12:35 AM
More meanderings because the summer has been glorious, glorious, glorious thus far, and I have not sat down in the big armchair in the corner for more than two or three hours at a time since May. My God, but it has been fabulous!
The longest time I've been indoors was watching with glee the stumbles and rumbles and departure of England from the World Cup. They were so jingoistic and cocky and assured in the buildup that, quite apart from our history, they bring that kind of reaction down on top of their own heads.
America departs from the scene with honor and respect, and the Dutch Nation is out of her mind with excitement as the Netherlands emerge among the favorites for the latter stages of the marathon tournament. But watch Germany closely!
I'm away up North in the sunshine. Remarkably, as the sun sizzles all day over a tanned economy which is still officially in the red, I end up right on the border in the Black!
That is the local name for the Cavan village of Blacklion, on the Fermanagh border, and in truth there is no sign of recession at all because they are enjoying their annual summer carnival and festival in honor of Cathal Bui. Don't ask me who he was please, but he is well remembered and honored.
There is a singsong which begins with a formal concert in the Community Center and then descends the hill into the bars. There is music and song and dance and drink in all or any order into the wee small hours, and then there is a party in every second house.
What is a recession? No sign of it in the Black anyway.
Furthermore, I notice that the original Ballroom of Romance in tiny Glenfarne down the road is still dancing away through the summer. It has to be one of the last ballrooms left in the country.
The flamboyant proprietor, the late John McGivern, staged a romantic interlude here at every dance, singing "Have You Ever Been Lonely?" over the dancing heads of shy country boys and girls and encouraging them to exchange names and maybe even a peck on the cheek on the dance floor.
Those many of you from Leitrim over there should know that you might not be in this world at all were it not for John McGivern. He created hundreds of marriages in this region through those romantic interludes.
The hedges around Glenfarne carry wiry bouquets of wild pink roses, and they are still dancing away this summer of 2010. This area is the Killarney of the North, and you should try to visit it and see glittering Glencar waterfall between Manorhamilton and Sligo if you are in Ireland anytime soon.
I'm on the road to Cavan town next afternoon to watch our Fermanagh footballers take on Monaghan in the Ulster Championships. I pick a route that takes me past the place where I was born in the townland of Toneyloman.
I stop in Arney briefly to whisper a prayer for Sandy and Mary and sister Maura in the graveyard. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the chapel is redolent of old incense.
I sense peace and rest rather than anything else and shed just two or three tears. Life is like that.
There have been major roadworks and changes in the home townland. My birth house has been replaced by a new bungalow, the road flattened to remove a hill on which we played as children. I have passed by before I fully realize where I am.
All has changed, changed utterly. Life, as I say, is like that.
Monaghan hammer us in the football. It is a bad hammering but it is easier to take than if it was from Tyrone or Cavan, the other neighbors.
Neither of us are going to win the All-Ireland come September, you see, and we are close neighbors without much friction.
Coming back walking from Breffni Park there is a family in front of me, parents and a four-year-old son riding on his father's broad shoulders. The mother wears a Monaghan jersey, so does the little boy, while the father is in the green of Fermanagh.
"What will we do now?" I ask him as I pass.
"There is Plan B," is what he says.
We now, you see, go into the qualifiers, what they call the back door. (Later in the evening we draw powerful Armagh in those qualifiers. There will not be a long road after that.)
I have a piece to write about the game. There is an Internet kiosk in the Farnham Hotel and I effortlessly dispatch it from there.
How times have changed. In my cub reporter days in Cavan you would be winding the handle of a phone to call the Dublin office and laboriously speak every word over to a copytaker in Burgh Quay. It could take hours and hours. I'm done and dusted in about 50 minutes from start to finish.
Droning through Mayo on the way home, I'm entertained by the radio fallout from the heave against opposition leader Enda Kenny in the ranks of Fine Gael. Divers voices from all sides of the political divide are babbling.
The apparently gentle and youthful-looking Kenny easily defeated his dissidents, routing them by a series of moves worthy of Napoleon on a bloody battlefield.
As I passed by the miracle town of Knock, spired against a clear sky, I reflected that when it comes to politics it is extremely difficult to outsmart any Mayo politician of any party. They are mighty at it.
They can work miracles. They have iron hands in velvet gloves.
Kenny is likely now to be the next taoiseach (prime minister), and that could happen soon enough. Maybe before Christmas.
When I reach home I have time for one pint in the Honk before heading tiredly home. I am mercilessly attacked of course because of the Fermanagh disaster, but I'm not alone.
Neighbor Sean is a Dubliner, and Dublin collapsed against Meath and conceded five goals in a worse slaughter than ours. He got the worst of it. We smoked together in the porch before heading home.
Tomorrow, we agreed, would be another good day anyway.
It is that kind of summer. I'm off to Kerry tomorrow...