|Bettystown Beach (Credit: Paul Power)|
So on Wednesday afternoon I took a walk on Bettystown beach in County Meath, a wondrous place from my childhood, just six miles from my hometown of Drogheda.
I invited one of my oldest friends, Eddie Holt, along and he said he’d meet me there.
The sun was high, the Irish Sea was clear blue, and all was better with the world.
Until Eddie decided to drive along the beach to meet me halfway and walk from there.
He fearlessly drove past the “Warning soft sand do not drive any further” signs with gay abandon and was soon spinning his wheels helplessly about 20 feet from the water as high tide beckoned.
Walking back I was wondering who was the idiot with his car stuck when I realized it was Eddie.
So here we were. I am as useful as a eunuch in a brothel when it comes to cars and everything about them.
Eddie does know stuff, but after ten minutes of spinning the wheels and only digging deeper we decided we needed help.
My brother, Fergus, the member of the Irish parliament, was summoned from nearby Drogheda. He would surely know what and who to call. He didn’t really but he had a good laugh at us.
My other brother Michael’s father in law, Dick Reilly, who lived nearby was also summoned. He knew a local farmer with a tractor but he had forgotten his phone and had to go back to his house to get the number and call him.
Meanwhile the tide was now at ten feet from the car.
A local priest from Drogheda, Father Iggy, out for his daily constitutional, happened by. We asked if he could temporarily stop the waves advancing like King Canute tried but he quietly deferred. He would give us a push instead he said.
Others came by, some to gawk at the impending disaster. One man said he’d help but he’d just had an operation. Another said he was worried about a heart attack.
The tide was now at five feet from the car.
My brother helpful as always, picked the moment to tell us the story of the fire engine from Drogheda that has literally been swallowed up near the same spot when it came to rescue a car that was floating away and had gotten too close to the water.
Dick Reilly came back and said the farmer was on his way. That cheered us up but we waited and waited.
At last someone useful showed up – a brother in law of Fergus, Gerry Cullen, a top-notch singer with the Voice Squad and a former schoolteacher.
Soon after yet another brother in law showed up. He’s a publican. It was like family reunion day on the beach
Gerry went back up the beach and asked the man with the first four-wheel drive car he met to come and save our sinking car.
The water was now at two feet away, lapping around our ankles. The car was an older Lexus, in perfect running order, bright red and lots of good honest miles on it. Would it meet a watery grave? Eddie was starting to get emotional about it.
The four-wheel drive man arrived, thanks to Gerry, backed up and took out his rope --God bless him, at last someone was in charge.
So we started to push, the parish priest, the publican, the politician, the returned yank, the retired laboratory worker, the singer, and journalist (Eddie) and two strangers.
We pushed and we panted and we pushed again and eventually the four-wheel drive pulled Eddie’s car clear. Not a moment too soon .
The car and our dignity were saved. The four-wheel drive man would not take a penny, the tractor and the farmer arrived too late but he would also not take a penny.
The priest blessed us all, and hoofed it, and we stood on Bettystown beach as the rain began to fall and thanked the wonderful Irish and unbreakable family bonds.