Having travelled by the overnight ferry, arriving in Eire at about 6am there was time to spare after we had (after overshooting on the motorway and getting lost) booked in, found our bedspace in the dormitory and lunched, so I decided to go on an expedition that I had, without success, suggested that Simon Rees should lead: to visit the site the the first beekeeper in Ireland, St Modomnoc’s Chapel at Bremore, on the outskirts of Balbriggan, about 3 miles south of Gormanston.
I was suffering from gout, a thing that doesn’t happen every year, and my toe was hurting a lot and I was limping. Nevertheless, I walked down the main road to Balbriggan. I discovered that it hurt less if I stuffed leaves or moss under the inflamed and bulbous big toe to stop it bending down at each step. Earlier I had tried, without success, to get a bee to sting it.
At Balbriggan I was hoping to find the Chapel near the Castle but it was all fenced off around there. The nearby school, St Molaga’s National School, has a skep and bees as its badge.
It came on to rain, chucking it down for a few minutes so I sheltered in a phone box with somebody else in the box next door.
On the way back I took a side road and so approached the College from the south. I noticed that the toe was hurting a little less: maybe the exercise had done it some good.
Dinner time: as the main menu was similar to what I had had for lunch, except steak rather than ham, and I don’t have the teeth for steak, I went to the salad bar and had a plate of mixed healthy stuff and pudding.
Then came the formal opening, preceded, as usual, by Dennis Ryan playing bagpipes. I put my fingers in my ears! Bagpipes, like church bells, are best heard from a couple of fields away! I took a seat near the front and was soon joined by a grey haired lady with an American accent – originally she came from New York but married in Dublin 25 years ago.
The speeches lasted for about 40 minutes with Eamon Magee in the chair, after which came the wine and cheese. I didn’t bother with the cheese as I was still full of dinner but did have 2 glasses of wine.
I fell into conversation with the American lady and we swapped cards. She’s Kaethe (Katy) Burt-O’Dea and is into healthcare design and research. She didn’t yet have bees but was interested in setting up an urban beekeeping project for school children and people with problems. I spoke of opening a hive being akin to meditation. I said I would send her my ballad on ‘Workers’ Rule’, but can’t, now, remember whether I did.
The weather was a little showery so I got my mac and headed for the pub, The Cock, for old time’s sake. I was the only customer in the lounge bar but there were plenty in the public. I ordered Guinness, asking for bottled but they didn’t have any so I settled for draught. I asked for the WIFI code and tried it but the signal was too weak.
While my Guinness was settling a cluster of people came in from The Huntsman over the road whence they had been driven by the noise of the band playing therein. My drink was kindly included in their round and I joined them, trying to remember their names, a thing I’m not good at. I got Gerry Williams, Mervyn Eddy, Norman and Rosemary Walsh and a stranger, Val? from Scotland. I raised my glass to Dave Cushman with whom, over the years, I had spent many hours and drunk gallons of (bottled) Guinness in The Cock.
There was good chat until 10ish when we departed. I walked alone back to the College in slight rain wearing my cap with a headlight for safety. Although it was early for me I headed to the dormitory and bed, sprinkling lavender oil on the pillow to aid sleep and putting in earplugs to prevent interruption. It had been a long day and I soon dropped off.