Continuing from where I left off, my friend with whom I was staying took me to Ballinasloe where I caught the bus which delivered me to Dublin airport a mere 50 minutes behind the advertised time. Thank heavens I wasn’t there to catch a plane! A bus had been organised to take participants from the airport directly to Gormanston. I wandered around the Arrivals Hall until I was found by Roger Patterson. We agreed that he would hunt down the bus while I sought other beekeepers. That worked and soon we had a cluster that grew to a bus full.
Soon we were there and had to go through the process of booking in. I was delighted to find that I had overpaid and that the change would pay my deposit for next year and still leave me with some beer money! I found my dormitory and my cubicle and saw from the sign at its entrance that I’m the Dormitory Prefect!
Dinner. I’d had nothing to eat since breakfast except for a couple of chunks of honeycomb flapjack made to my own recipe. Nourishing and sustaining though it is, it isn’t a proper meal.
Then came the opening ceremony and speechifying. Robert Pickard was good. The new Agriculture Minister of State, Shane McEntee, told us that he’d left school at 15 to work on a farm. At last a politician who knows what he’s talking about! We could do with a few of those! The Irish are as keen on speeches as the French, keener in fact, as not only was there a speech proposing a vote of thanks for the other speeches, but also there was another speech seconding the proposal. However democracy was ignored as there was no chance for opposing speeches and the matter was never put to the vote. Maybe next year ……..
Then came wine, cheese and mingling. After a couple of glasses of rather pleasant red I sloped off to The Cock. In order to get there I had to pass the Huntsman. I was spotted and hailed as a beekeeper from 50 yards away and a lady, presumably the landlady, came out, shook me by the hand and invited me in. Apologetically, I declined as I had an errand over the road.
I was the first beekeeper in The Cock. I ordered my bottle of Guinness, poured a glassful, raised it and spoke “Dave Cushman” before taking my first sip. Doing a swift mental calculation I reckon that Dave and I alone have spent between us well over £1,000 on bottled Guinness in The Cock over a decade of Gormanstons. In one of the early years, we drank the pub dry of it by Wednesday and they had to get some more in. Subsequently Dave sent them an annual reminder a week in advance.
Soon I was joined by Roger Patterson and Kevin Lincoln and we nattered and quaffed for a couple of hours before wending our way. Roger, who has inherited Dave’s world-famous web site wants to put some of my poetry on it!
I got to my dorm by midnight. I wasn’t the first abed, and I knew as soon as I entered the room that I stood absolutely no chance of winning this year’s annual snoring competition!