Seeking peace and goodwill

Posted on: 1st December, 2014

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

It’s been going around. Many in West Cork have been stopped in their tracks. The city has not been spared and if Facebook is anything to go by, neither has the rest of the world. Even my sister in Belgium got it. I’m talking about the seasonal flu. This year’s flu seems to be particularly nasty, as it often combines the misery of the vomiting bug with the regular aches, pains, sniffles and coughing.

I was feeling pretty smug. Though the flu had hit our home twice, I had escaped unscathed. Not that it didn’t try to get me too, but I had beaten it. Ever since I ran my last school run, I have taken a vow to take to the bed at the first sign of a cold and it works. When I was still a sleep-deprived working mother, a bad cold in November could linger all the way to Christmas. Now one or two days in bed, and I’m back to full health. It’s worked a treat until last week. Then again I only took to the bed for a day and then launched myself into an early Thanksgiving celebration. Two days later and I was back in sick bay. Which is why I’m writing this wrapped in blanket, a cup of Lemsip by my side.

The older I get, the more my body wants to live in the sunshine and heat of my birth country, rather than the rain and grey clouds of my adopted home. You’d think that over twenty years in West Cork would have cured me, but it only gets worse every year. I cling to the summer like a heroine in a Victorian novel, who refuses to accept that the love of her life has married someone else. This year, the Autumn was so lovely that is was easy to be in denial. Dire warnings of arctic winter weather did not deflect me. It’s my way of coping. If I pretend that winter is not on its way, I won’t really notice until it’s too late. If I’m lucky, like this year, by the time I fully accept that the summer has gone, it’s time for the holiday season.

It starts with Halloween. Though we do not go crazy with the spider web decorations anymore, the sight of glowing Jack-O-Lanterns is the first major step to acceptance that winter is guaranteed. Carving pumpkins and drinking mulled cider forces me to stop dreading the winter and start enjoying the beauty of the dying season. The landscape gives us one last blast of red and orange before its long sleep. The lovely smell of fallen leaves and wood smoke, the warmth of a second duvet, and the cosy huddle around a blazing fire all cushion the blow of short days and cold hallways.

Because of my American heritage, we also celebrate Thanksgiving. There is something wonderful about a holiday that only involves good food in good company. We don’t adhere to the exact date, but have it when it suits the family instead. Sometime around the fourth Thursday in November (the official date), we get cooking. Thanksgiving is said to have originated when the Pilgrims first arrived in the New World, but it didn’t become an official national holiday until October 3, 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation setting aside a national day of thanks, right in the middle of the Civil War. The idea came from a woman called Sarah Josepha Hale, a prominent writer and editor (she also wrote the children’s poem ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’) who campaigned for a national holiday to heal ‘the nation’s wounds’. For me Thanksgiving is like a pre-cursor to the big event in December. While Halloween helps me accept that all things will one day wither and die (including summer!), Thanksgiving is a time of reflection on all the good things that have happened in the past year and to be truly grateful for them. It works its magic every year. We often run around with reams of complaints running through our heads: from water charges, to women’s rights, from small disappointments to major sorrows. To sit at a table with family and friends, and voice out loud all the things you’re thankful for is like a feel-good spell that truly heals. Thanksgiving gives me the peace and goodwill I need to say goodbye to another year. I’m ready to embrace all the tacky tinsel, holly and ivy of Christmas, despite the sniffles.

May your Christmas be merry, may your heart be filled with goodwill to all men, and may your soul be at peace with the world. Let the festivities begin!

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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

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For further information, please contact Xavier at or text at 086/0476124.
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