The circle of life

Posted on: 3rd November, 2014

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

It’s that time again. Allhallowstide (a word I only discovered recently) covers the days between October 31 and November 2, which in the Christian faiths, encompasses All Hallows, All Saints, and All Souls day. It wasn’t until the 9th century that the Church dedicated the end of Autumn as a holy time to pray for the departed (it became an obligation in the 12th century), but pre-Christian societies had already earmarked the occasion. Samhain was the most important feast day in ancient Ireland. It marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the ‘darker half’ of the year. Halloween, as we know it, developed when Irish immigrants brought their mix of Christian and Celtic customs to the New World. In the last twenty years, I have watched it come back across the Atlantic. When my daughters were small, I found it near impossible, and exorbitant, to buy pumpkins at the end of October. Last week I saw a ‘Pumpkin carving kit’ for sale in Lidl, and cheap pumpkins line the aisles of every supermarket in the county.

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. Living in the countryside makes you more in tune with the seasons and it just feels right to mark the death of all that lush greenery we enjoyed last summer. Getting my dark side on at this time of year is as appropriate as gathering mint for mojitos in July (made with elderflower cordial!) The darkness lengthens, the cold sets in, and the land sleeps. Let’s face it — it’s a pretty creepy time. Lighting even spookier carved pumpkins and dressing up as the undead counters the dismay. Which is why I’m not a big fan of the ‘happy’ Halloween costume. Even the smallest child should get a chance to look as scary as possible. That’s what Halloween is for. We remember that life is short, by making fun of death.

I’m not being morbid. Death is something that we all need to get our heads around and mocking what we fear to make it less scary is a Universal human trait. Halloween allows us to find comfort in the fact that, though the world is a scary place at times, we are still capable of celebrating.

Urban modern living hides the messy realities of death. Raising children in the countryside makes it much easier for parents. Death becomes a part of life. I remember the first time that I confronted the subject of death with my girls. They were around five and eight years-old and they came running into the house yelling that they had saved a baby bird. We went out for a look and found a tiny fledgling trembling on the ground. As the girls excitedly made plans for building it a nest and feeding it by hand, I realised that the bird wasn’t going to make it. I was trying to formulate a way to tell the girls when the little creature gave a shuddering twitch and died. The girls were sad, but accepted the obvious: the little bird had fallen out of the nest and was too small to survive. They were soon as excited preparing the bird’s funeral arrangements, as they had been planning for its rescue. Over the years we have had many lovely pet and ‘saved animal’ funerals. Some have been sad and some have been rather jolly, but all have helped us to accept that life and death, love and loss don’t cancel each other out. They go hand in hand.

Speaking of life and death, love and loss; we have mourned the loss of our two beloved cats in the last year. They were the longest living cats we‘ve ever had (over ten years) and were both cruelly cut down in their prime by a passing car. This house needs cats if I don’t want to be running a rodent breeding programme over the winter, and so we now have a brand new crew. As I write, the big cat (who arrived last year) is juggling a dead bird under the table, trying to attract the two kittens who are rolling around in the feathers. Both were found on the road and we took them in. I know that the sound of their tiny paws stampeding across the floor like a miniature herd of rhinos will bring a smile to my face, even on the darkest day of ‘darker half’ of the year.

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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  ·  

Did you know..... ... See MoreSee Less

Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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