The Runaway Summer

Posted on: 6th August, 2014

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

Some summers flow easy and slow. Last summer, with its wonderful weather was easy and slow. We had the occasional visitor to break up the glorious monotony, but overall we had the summer to ourselves and managed to make the most of it. Back in March/April, I was looking forward to another such summer with loads of time to enjoy the long days. We made plans for house renovations, day trips and weekends away and a peaceful season when I would get a lot of writing done. John Lennon said  “Life is what happens while you’re making plans” and how right he was. As April turned to May, the list of family and friends who said they were coming to visit grew. I accepted each and every one with delight. Offers of freelance gigs, hosting foreign students, and my new foray into Airbnb were similarly welcomed. Sure we’d juggle it all. It’s a big house. The more the merrier!

Some summers race along like a runaway horse. May morphed into June as the visitors/guests/students started to arrive. By the solstice I was making lists in my calendar to try and coordinate their arrivals, departures and sleeping arrangements. By mid-July we had eleven people staying with us. There were at least double that number over at the house at any time to visit with the visitors, which is great fun, but somewhat exhausting. The problem is that all these people have their own schedules and agendas, needs and sleeping patterns. One day last week, four sets of breakfast were served between 8.30am and 2pm. Thankfully, I don’t have to do all the cooking, cleaning etc, but as the self-appointed Head of the House, it still behooves me to make sure that all are happy and fed, have directions to scenic routes around West Cork, get to wherever they are going on time, and celebrate whatever birthdays happen to fall in July (four so far and counting). I have memorised the Bus Eireann timetables and discovered that no bus/train goes directly to Millstreet, where some of our visitors were planning to attend the European Juggling Convention. At any time of the night or day there are people sleeping, people playing music, and someone making toast. I have given up on keeping track of who is vegetarian, gluten-free or lactose intolerant. I just make sure that lots of different food is on the table and tell everyone to dig in. Any vegan is pointed in the direction of the vegetable garden and told to forage.

I am a great believer in delegating. It’s the only way to stay sane. However, one needs the steely-eyed, cool-headed fortitude of a military strategist to assign all the tasks necessary to make the household work. We’ve had some fails, mainly around dinner time. Our French students will be going home thinking that the Irish keep similar dinner times as the Spanish, as we’ve rarely managed to get dinner together before 9pm. Overall, however, everything was going splendidly, with the only casualty being my hours of sleeptime (Students get up early. Daughters and musicians stay up late.). Little did I know that sitting in the corner, were the ghosts of Mr Murphy and Mr MacGillicuddy. They must have been having the craic as they watched their predictions unfold.

Edward Aloysius Murphy, Jr is credited with coining ‘Murphy’s Law’: ‘If something can go wrong, it will.’ Fellow Irishman MacGillicuddy added a corollary: “at the most inopportune time.” How right they were: My car died last week (just before taking the group to Millstreet). The downstairs toilet is blocked (Despite warning not to use it for ‘number 2’). The washing machine is leaking (not too bad…yet). I find myself worrying that our only bathroom will go on strike, or that the water pump will decide to take a break…

In fairness every crisis has been met with goodwill and humour. Neighbours, friends and our local garage (Bless you, Ger. You’re going directly to heaven!) have all rowed in and helped us and we’ve managed regardless. I know that when we look back on the summer of 2014, we’ll only remember the good times we had: the BBQs, the nights around the fire, the incredible music sessions, the fire poi and juggling and all the many birthday parties. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that when all is quiet and we have the house to ourselves again next September, I’ll miss this year’s runaway summer.

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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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