A soaring fireworks display over the Shannon to signify the ongoing Brian Boru festival in my Killaloe was just one index to the incredible summer we are relishing throughout the sun-baked island.
As I said last week there are festival celebrations about everywhere, the music and craic is unending day and night and those among you who are here already, or due to arrive soon, are certain to enjoy probably the best holiday of your lives, especially if there is any Celtic blood in your system. Take my sunburned word for it.
There is more than that. Even if the weather breaks after a record-breaking month and we get a few badly needed inches of rainfall upon the parched earth below, that will be the excuse for another burst of enjoyable craic and celebration.
I’m grinning now as I recall a lovely wry monologue which was a hit on the RTE Radio program Din Joe many years ago now. It hit the nail on the head for sure through the reactions of a character named Hanrahan to the kind of weather we have had all this summer to date.
Hanrahan bemoaned the impact of a heatwave in five verses which all ended-“We’ll all be ruined before the year is out!” And then the rain came back in torrents, and again Hanrahan exclaimed we’d all be ruined before the year is out.
Many of you who were born here will remember the wisdom of Hanrahan back then. I grinned again a few nights ago when I heard the poem splendidly delivered by a Tribesman at the beginning of the second unofficial week of the Willie Clancy Summer School in Miltownmalbay.
Our festivals, as again many of you are aware, may well have an official program for a week or 10 days, but the merrymaking and music-making afterwards is usually even more enjoyable because all competitions are over and the new All-Ireland champions in all the arts of Irish traditional music, dancing and song don’t head for home at all, but stay on in the lively West Clare town to proudly strut their stuff.
I think another element of the current unrestrained spree across the land is the reality that we have at last emerged in relatively good shape from the harsh economic decade and more of economic austerity, and that is cause for celebration in itself.
The rising tide of better times is lifting all boats. Unemployment is falling by the day, the minimum working wage has been raised and, with tourism generated by such as ye visitors, it is another index to better and brighter times that the restaurant and bar traders everywhere are looking for more chefs for their busy kitchens.
“It is easier to recruit a brain surgeon than a chef these days!” was the recently reported complaint of one restaurant owner along the Wild Atlantic Way which stretches from Donegal to Cork nowadays past hundreds of festivals and the related festivities.
No need for me here to repeat again the warnings about not driving in Ireland after even one drink. The regulations have been tightened even further this July, and that is a hard fact. Heed this warning again.
I will add two further pieces of good advice based on police bulletins. The first of these is to never leave your vehicle unlocked when you leave it for a good stroll along the beach or a swim. There has been a national spate of thefts from unattended vehicles all summer.
The second fresh warning is related to the fact that midsummer is the time of maximum activity and pressure on Irish farms, with all family members involved in the fray. Too often this pressure leads to very young boys being allowed to drive powerful (and speedy) tractors not just on the farm but on public roads.
They can be very dangerous because of their inexperience, and if you spot one of them in your way exercise extreme caution. Their fathers courteously pull in to verges to allow other traffic to safely pass, but the young lads have not learned that lesson yet and can be counted upon, sadly, to create significant driving risks to you and yours.
Finally, since these are the lazy, lazy, crazy days of summer, with all sorts of strange things happening under the clear skies, what about the rare truth from the coast of the Kingdom of Kerry (where else indeed?) where fishermen are quite regularly catching or spotting exotic and beautiful little golden fish who walk along the seabed on LEGS!!! I read that these are toad fish normally found only around Mexico and attracted here by the heatwave.
Those little Mexican fish would be well advised, would they not, to stay well away from that Clare section of the Wild Atlantic Way owned and controlled by a certain powerful president!
Enjoy yourselves all the way. We’ll leave it there for now.