Hoping for the big ‘H’

Posted on: 5th May, 2015

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

Spring is in the air, and ain’t it just swell!  Winter is definitely gone. The swallows are back and the hedgerows are fit to burst. Lambs and calves gambol in the fields, while the ewes and heifers lie sunning themselves.

It has been an incredible start to Spring. Has the gorse ever been as luscious, the primroses as plentiful, the blackthorn as magical? The blooming this year has been so spectacular that I’ve managed to spot a few wild damson trees that I hadn’t noticed before. I’ve made a note to visit them in the fall, when I’m picking sloes, which, judging by the blackthorn flowers, will be a bumper harvest this year. I am really looking forward to that moment when the hawthorn blooms (almost at the same time all over the country) and the roads look like they are strung with pop-corn balls.

I love this time of year. There is so much anticipation in the air, so much promise of good things to come: thick green foxglove leaves in a clearing, seedlings in the porch, plans for a weekend away on Sherkin Island.

That sad, sniffling woman who dragged herself around the house only a few weeks ago has left the building and started gardening. Stepping outside I shed the last my seasonal depression like a snake’s scaly skin. Everywhere I look lifts my heart: banks of wild garlic, blue bells, yellow flowers that carpet the woods, a profusion of daisies, streams of tiny blue forget-me-nots and a dozen tiny multi-coloured flowers spill that through the grass. Swallows swooping high over the front field on a sunny blue sky day, erase any trace of the winter doldrums.

There’s only one sight that lifts my heart more than the swallows and that’s the Big H.

It hardly ever happens, but the last few weeks of lovely weather coincided with a mini-bus load of visitors. It was wonderful to be able to show off West Cork in all its glory, and a great relief not to have to watch my family put on ever increasing layers of clothing as their holiday progressed. Every night I anxiously watched the weather forecast as if it were an All-Ireland final. “Go on! Go on you big beautiful freakin’ H!” I’d shout at the telly. I know that the big H stands for High Pressure, but for me it stands for Happiness. The big H is a promise, a covenant with the people of Ireland that we will be basking in the sunshine. All thoughts of cold, wet, windy weather are swept away on a wave of optimism as that beautiful second letter of the alphabet embraces us. How I love that Giant H as it hovers over the map of Ireland.

Unfortunately, living on a small island in the Atlantic means that a Giant L (for loathsome) is always lurking somewhere in the wings, ready to sweep the country with another gale, or blanket us in fog. And so it was that yesterday, I could barely see the fields across the road. My lovely giant H is gone and we’re stuck with plunging temperatures and dripping gutters.

Yet hope springs eternal, especially in Springtime. I know that big H isn’t too far away. It’ll be back, peeping behind Evelyn Cusack, as it makes its way across the Atlantic, or sneaks up from the South. I have faith in the big H. Let it rain this weekend. Let it rain all through the last week of April. By the time you read this that big H will be over us again. It will be the May Bank holiday Weekend, which kicks of the season of BBQs, beach, festivals, vegetables, craic agus ceoil that defines a West Cork summer. I’ll be on Sherkin Island (where ‘One Horse Pony’ will be playing at the Jolly Rodger plus a BBQ!) and I don’t know of many places in the world as beautiful as Sherkin and Cape Clear when that big H is marking the map. So come on BIG H! Here’s hoping….

Newsflash: The oak tree in the front field has come into leaf well before the ash trees, and you know what they say: Ash before oak, summer will soak. Oak before ash, summer will splash!

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.

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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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