I’m just starting to pack for Gormanston, a day early to avoid a last minute rush. I’m not sure whether to include wet weather gear and have looked up the weather forecast which says there may be thunderstorms moving northwards, so maybe I’ll pack a mac.
For readers unfamiliar with Gormanston, it is a week (almost) long gathering of 300 resident plus maybe 100 day visitors at the FIBKA (Federation of Irish Beekeeping Associations) annual Summer School held at Gormanston College, about a mile from the coast about 20 miles north of Dublin. I’ve been every year since 2000, so this is my 14th visit.
They have a different guest lecturer every year, usually from abroad, and have simultaneous lectures at Senior, Intermediate and Preliminary levels as well as workshops in diverse subjects ranging from microscopy to furniture polishing. In recent years they have adjusted the timetables so you can go from one to another without missing one or arriving late.
The College has everything you might need: castle, yew cloister, hurley pitches, golf course, trout stream, sports hall, swimming pool, woodland, bees in a castle wall, refectory, chapel and cemetery. Accommodation ranges from en-suite (expensive and lonely) to dormitory ( cheaper and more fun). We have an annual snoring competition, which reminds me that I must check that I have packed my earplugs!
The food is very large and designed for avid carnivores, although there is a vegetarian option which I tend to go for towards the end of the week when I’m bloated. Sadly. the oldest pub in Ireland (allegedly) The Cock was closed last year but The Huntsman still is there, about half a mile from the college. A mile from the college is a sandy beach which stretches for miles with very few bathers. Sometimes I walk a few miles northwards and then weave back by road. Last year I walked down to Balbriggan. This year I hope that Simon Rees will be leading us to the nearby Church where the first apiary in all Ireland was established.
Transport is more difficult this year as Flybee have changed their timetable so that my plane arrives after 8pm, long after the bus has left and so, if I can share a taxi with others on the same flight, we won’t get there until about 9pm when most of the wine and cheese will have been consumed. I think I’d better pack a sandwich or two!
I’ve just remembered how good I am at forgetting names. I must find and refresh the badges I made up reading: “I know your face but…..”; “Hello, WHO are you?” and “I’m Chris, who are you?”