For several years now I have been taking daily strolls down by the river and my dog Zorro loves them. It’s a riverbank walk where I have seen otters, a terrapin and even a seal a few times. I have got to know many of the other regular users, one of whom told me that the place is locally known as ‘the hips & heart park’ for the many people who use it after illnesses. The freshness of morning brings with it the music of birdsong from the many trees in this small park. If you like peace, tranquillity and nature, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Yet behind it runs the busy rail line to Cobh in both directions, in front of you can often see ships of many nations as they traverse up and down the river and overhead the jets from the USA to Europe and back again, growl through the clear morning sky.
To get there I only need to pull out of my street and I can then almost freewheel down the long steep hill and across the flyover at the end to this oasis far from the madding crowd. If it is a mile from my front door it is a lot. The main road traffic on that hill is always heavy, never more so than at rush hours. Sometimes it can take two minutes and other times it can take twenty to get down to the spot, but Zorro and I always get there.
We didn’t though last week because Charles and Camilla were due to visit and uniformed Gardai in high vis. jackets were diverting and pointing us hither and yon and barking at us to be quick about it. In short, I had to turn around and return home until “One” had safely negotiated the main road and got to one’s first engagement.
I did get back down later that day though and a very old man I know from West Cork was slowly making his way along the path. When he saw me he said, “Jasus, but the traffic was shite earlier,” to which I nodded my agreement. “I’m told the quare fella was in town,” he added. I confirmed that we had indeed been graced by the royal presence and his wife. “I hope he’s not planning to stay the month or I won’t get out at all,” he shot back. There’s something direct and refreshing about West Cork folk.
I think though that his Mom, Queen Elizabeth was a more popular visitor. When she came to Cork we knew enough to stay at home and watch her on TV that day because there was no point trying to go anywhere until she was safely away.