Adhering to the maxim of Alfred Wrainwright that, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”, 16 hardy souls set out from Cork in torrential rain, on the morning of November 20th to gather in Killarney for the final Hillwalk of the year, in Muckross Park. Cork people often experience feelings of trepidation on crossing the county bounds into Kerry, but on this occasion we were welcomed with open arms and clearing skies!
Suited and booted, we set off, under the capable leadership of Joan McCann and the patient stewardship of sweeper Angela Foley. Our first stop was at Muckross Abbey, sadly in ruins since Cromwellian times. One could easily spend a few hours here exploring the ruins and the adjacent graveyard. It’s the burial place of Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin, Aogán Ó Rathaille and Seathrún Ó Donnchú. Two of our group found the grave of a family member here too. The yew trees are impressive!
From there we crossed Muckross Road and followed the Queen’s Way up to the beautiful woodlands, our path dappled in shades of gold, red, yellow and brown. Someone recalled the “Autumn” essays of our teaching days.
Tar éis sosa beag, leanamar orainn i dtreo an tsean-bhóthair idir Neidín agus Cill Áirne. Bhí an méid sin cainte is comhrá ar siúl nár airíomar go rabhamar ag déanamh gan mhoill ar eas Toirc. Is fíor an seanfhocal:
Giorraíonn beirt bóthar:
We were so lucky with the weather! Apart from a light mist on the higher ground, we saw nothing of the deluge that afflicted the folks at home. So, with one eye on the sky and a careful eye on the path, we wound or way down to majestic Torc.
After nearly 3½ hours in the hills we were delighted to reach the welcome comfort of the Muckross House Cafe and tuck into warm food. In a throw-back to those aforementioned school essays, I would like to confirm that, “we returned home that evening, tired but happy”.
I wish to acknowledge and praise all in RTAI who so enrich our retirement. Through their inspiration and hard work, they provide a varied menu of events and activities that add a spice to our older years. Bringing a new energy to us in a fun way is so dependent on getting the right person.
One activity in particular challenges the sean-fhocal ” Ní thagann an óige faoi dhó d’éinne.”
All thanks then to Mary Fitzgerald, who first brought Helen Conroy among us. Helen is simply the Queen of Line Dancing, first rate comedienne and dance teacher of outstanding ability. We teachers are renowned as a difficult audience to please. We always it seems, have the “biro dearg” to hand but Helen’s ability has hushed us, all the better to getting our feet in motion. As we gather for our class, the chat and excitement builds, the music strikes up, and we are off.
It’s probably true to say that how we dance reflects aspects of our personality. Thankfully, all God’s creatures have a place in the line. Some of us bring the proverbial two left feet. Others, a grace of movement innate to some of our species. Whatever we bring, Helen soon enhances the whole to a sum way higher than the parts might promise. Her humour gets us over the bumps of new steps and novel weaving patterns.
Then the magic begins to happen, the years fall away and the light-hearted carefree folk we can be emerges. When we finish our session, say with “Zorba the Greek”, or “Lord of the Dance”, we step through the door to “Tír na n-Óg” and enjoy visiting a realm of pure fun and laughter. Sadly, it ends all too soon but we head home with a happy buzz, once more amazed that in 60 minutes, our teacher has uplifted us beyond years, cares or ability, to the joy of dance.
Our thanks to Seán Ó Callanáin for putting pen to paper and submitting this informative and entertaining report.
A great day was had by all 19 of us on a recent amble in glorious Ardmore. The sun shone, skies & sea were blue with clear views along the Waterford coastline. We ambled the cliff walk at a leisurely pace taking in the local attractions – St. Declan’s Well, the rusty Samson Shipwreck, the signal tower, Pluais na Ron, with Capel Island & Knockadoon to our west. We then meandered back to the village via the cathedral & round tower to a well-earned lunch in The Round Tower Hotel.
Lots of camaraderie between new friends & old- what a lovely way to spend an October Thursday! Mile buiochas, Helen & Eleanor!