This was Christmas 2010.
Christmas night 2011
This was October this year and it would suit me thoroughly if Christmas day looked something like this, even including the heron who was hell bent on cleaning out the pond at the foot of the garden!
Our village history exhibition takes place next week end, Grande Opening on Friday night, regrettably all flights to Bermuda were fully booked so it looks like we "Old Uns" will have to turn up. We're on duty Friday night and Sunday morning.
It has been a rocky ride for the past six months. Huge credit is due to the lady who is getting it all onto boards and into leaflets. She has been adopted by us "Old Uns" for her attention to detail, sheer hard work and despite her weariness, never-ending sense of humour. We have taken her to our hearts. She moved into the village two years ago and this has been, she tells me, the most joyous and wonderful way to get to know everyone here.
Things have not gone smoothly, despite the fact that we have bent over backwards to assist those who are not living here as long as we are, with our collective 300+ years. One thing that has aroused my blood pressure is the insistence, from a newcomer, that there must be some scandal to whet the appetites of those who will visit the exhibition. If there is, we know it and we know it belongs where it is, in the past. Does the world need to know that Myler's dog took a lump out of the Raider Kavanagh's heifers leg? I don't think so.
I have been busy all month between visiting my late friend's Mum in the local hospital. Three days after her 90th birthday this lovely lady took a very nasty fall. That was on the 19th, and she is still in hospital and likely to remain so for another few weeks.
My aunt, who was widowed in September, is now living in the next town having moved from Kerry to live with her son at his insistence. She is missing her husband of 57 years and her friends, we are both agreed though that this has been a wonderful opportunity for her and I to spend more time together. She comes up to me for lunch on a Wednesday and we never notice the hours flying by. She is my last connection with my parents. My Father's youngest sister and my favourite aunt. I have learned much about my Father and his youth in these past few weeks. It has been a wonderful journey.
On Wednesday night Himself and I took ourselves off to a local hall to watch an amateur dramatic production of John B Keane's "The Year of the Hiker". I am a huge fan of this wonderfully witty writer from Listowel, Co. Kerry. "Big Maggie", "The Matchmaker", "Sive", "The Chastitute" and who can forget the film of his book "The Field" starring the incomparable Richard Harris, John Hurt and Sean Bean.
Maurice Walsh, another Listowel man who wrote "Blackcock's Feather", "The Road to nowhere" and "While Rivers Run" catches my heart and my breath with his way with words. Bryan McMahon - again from Listowel and his "The Honey Spike", John Millington Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World" and "Riders to the Sea" all captured my imagination when I was growing up.
Maurice Walsh wrote the original story "The Quiet Man" which went on to become the film which threw John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara together, not forgetting Barry Fitzgerald and a cast which brought a magic to this film.
Péig Sayers from Dun Chaoin on the Dingle peninsula wrote of her life there and on the Blasket Islands, and it was mandatory reading when I was in school. The class groaned when the book landed on our desks, but to me it was manna from heaven. Of all places on God's earth, the Dingle Peninsula in Co. Kerry is my soul home. I could ask for nothing better as part of my education. Time for another picture of....
...Peig Sayers very own Blasket Island - Na Blascaoid Mhór. I wonder if anyone could ever guess where I get my love of the spoken word and the magic of literature from?
...my Kerry-born Father.
The production was amateur but nonetheless enjoyable for that. I was in whoops of laughter listening to some of the actors attempting to mimic a Kerry accent, God love them, they hadn't a hope with their posh East Coast accents. Still, nil desperandum, they played their parts well - and John B's wit carries in any one's accent.
It was lovely to head out to the car park and only have to drive a half mile home afterwards. On bitter November nights, with the icy wind howling down the streets, I find it increasingly less tempting to travel into Dublin city to see a play. This is when "home entertainment" comes into its own. A comfortable car with a good heater is another plus point.
With all the activity for the history group, as Ruth - one of my fellow "Old Uns" - said, "I find myself frequently thinking about the life and times of my Great-Grandmother". On Wednesday night I thought of my theatre-loving Grandparents who would have travelled to the same hall, on a similar night, in pony and trap. Hardy people.