Sunday 27 November 2011

Sunday with the Galvins

Just back from a trip to Dingle.  A trip to Minard actually, a townland about halfway between Lispole and Annascaul. This is a beautiful off the beaten track sort of place complete with its own beach and castle. So no time yet for the customary Sunday morning walk in Ballyseede woods with Muttley the dog not that I think Muttley minds too much as he’s stretched out in Winter sun. As soon as I have lunch he’ll be walked senseless.

My Sunday morning journey was to drop Ed and Pam Galvin to their home in Kilmurray which overlooks Minard Harbour. Most of the time they live near Brunswick in Maine but try to spend a few months of each year in the Kerry home they purchased a while back. Having already being here from March to May they are only spending a short three weeks this time round. Ed, I’ve known for three or so years now and we get on well. He gave me a present this morning of a recently published book, a collection of writings, poetry and prose. In it is an article by one Ed Galvin and the accompanying biography reads “Ed Galvin is an independent writer, geographer and transportation historian.” Quite a mouthful for the retired railway executive and makes perfect sense when you see the piece is about a trip to the Gravediggers Pub in Dublin! But I suppose that would involve geography and transport… They flew in this morning and I collected them at Tralee Bus station having arrived from Shannon on the early express service. A generous caring couple it was nice for me to do something for them for a change. The bleary eyed, exhausted couple were bundled into the car and we headed off to West Kerry. 

It really was a beautiful winter’s morning with the sun just rising over the mountains to the east as we left Tralee. Pam mentioned something that I’d never noticed before, that the Irish countryside looks very green in the winter-time. Probably, I reckon, due to the amount of fields and the contrast of the denuded trees with the green grass. They both know a lot about our current economic state but wanted to get an opinion from someone on the ground. Now I’m sure it’s the same for all of us, we are just sick and tired of the doom and gloom surrounding the country at the moment and talking about it doesn’t make it any better. Discussion with an independent viewpoint is different, cathartic even, but doesn’t make the feeling about our plight any better. Not that things are much better stateside, especially as political gridlock is stifling any recovery.  The more you think about these things the worse they become I believe. We changed subjects and the mood lightened. The roads were clear and it wasn’t long before the chat was over and I’d deposited the two weary travellers at their little home in the west. Leaving the two to get the house out of mothballs and fit for human habitation again I headed back to Tralee.

On the way home I put the radio on for company. Stupidly I listened to the Sunday morning topical discussion program which really got me down. Increases in indirect taxes, fuel, everything that can be taxed combined with cuts in anything that can be cut really isn’t Sunday morning fare. Having discussed the probabilities of the upcoming budget they moved on to the state of the health service. Relying on everyone having private insurance and under funding the public health service has been a cornerstone of Irish government health policy for a long time now. They spoke about how delays in diagnosis, and thence treatment, leaves Ireland as having the worst cancer recovery rate in the developed world. This is nothing new unfortunately. My mother died of breast cancer, two weeks after her 52nd birthday back in 1974. Surely it must have been possible even then with early diagnosis and scanning to have prolonged her life? How many more women have died needlessly since? It still takes up to four months to get a lot of certain types of scans done according to the cancer specialist on the show. It’s the same with all disciplines. Even in our own case of getting Freddie looked after opened my eyes to shortcomings in the system. If it wasn’t for the fact that one of my closest friends, the guy I sat next to from aged eight to when he repeated fifth year, is a neuro man and helped get advanced treatments done I don’t know where we’d be. The system is under fierce pressure, only held together by the nurses, and more cuts can only be disastrous. The real shame of the waste during the boom years was the lack of investment in essential public services. All those billions washing around the government coffers and our health service seems to be no better off than 1974.

On a brighter side I’ve since been for a walk with the dog in the beautiful woods. The sun shining through the tall bare trees was lovely as was watching the Muttler digging in the fallen leaves. Coming home to the family at peace, reading and watching TV was lovely too. Maybe not all is so bad in the world after all…….         

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