Town's time capsule
It was later than usual but, as anybody who has seen it will surely testify, well worth the wait. The 29th Letterkenny Christmas Annual didn't hit the shelves until a couple of days before the big day due to a production hiccup which means that many of our emigrants won't have had a chance to stroll through the pages yet - all 232 of them (that's pages, of course, not emigrants).
One of the best yet in terms of - well, everything, lay-out, photograph reproduction and quality of articles. And that's saying something given some of the excellent publications down almost thirty years of the annual.
Haven't managed to trawl through all of it yet - bumper editions take time - but a few items have already caught the eye and the imagination.
There's May McClintock's family connections with the former Bishop of Raphoe, William McNeely - her father-in-law, Major T.A. McClintock, along with three other officers from the Royal Army Veterinary Corp invited to Letterkenny in 1919 by the then curate of St. Eunan's Cathedral. "Our family never asked why four Protestant Army Officers accepted the priest's invitation," says May.
Editor Jim Lynch provides us with a potted history of the life to date of singer and musician, Hugh McClean, a high-flier in every sense of the word given that he's also a qualified pilot.
Then there's my old classmate, Gerry McElroy, reliving his and Letterkenny's early years - an article full of names and memories, a time capsule in itself which is appropriate seeing that the bold Gerry buried one in the walls of the family kitchen at Lower Main Street on August 31st, 1972, when his home was undergoing renovations. Was it ever retrieved again? Read the article for yourselves and find out.
In a heart rending piece James ‘Gouldie' McGettigan relates how his faith has got through him through some hard times, not least the deaths of two of his sons, Peter and Philip.
The current cold snap has reminded us how we are dependent on our emergency services - Horace Friel's article on the Letterkenny Fire Brigade, complete with accounts of a number of incidents the crew were involved in over the years, underlines yet again the courage and commitment of our fire-fighters.
Fr. Eamonn Kelly, a man well used to putting words on paper whether in the form of prose or poetry, tells the story of ‘George'. A true story of a football supporter who Fr. Eamonn first became acquainted with him during a match when said ‘George' (not his real name) engaged in language that was not only blue but blasphemous in the eyes, and specifically the ears, of Fr. Eamonn. The game, and the language went on, until - well, read it yourself and you'll find out the outcome even if you won't get the result of the match.
Other results you will get and recall including the famous 3-1 win by Swilly Rovers over Cork side Castleview which brought the F.A.I. Junior Cup to Donegal for the first time, a review of which is penned by Dessie Kelly. Naturally, there were a few Letterkenny links in the Ramelton team or, of course, they wouldn't have triumphed!
Much more besides including the invariable poems by John Blake and a few lines by Sean Mulrennan, entitled ‘The Journey' which relates his perception on reaching and travelling through middle age. Must re-read it when I get there myself…
There are tributes, too, to those who have gone from us in the past year - and recollections of many others long deceased in the form of the huge gallery of photographs contained in the annual.
Every picture tells a story and the images here will prompt many a discussion and debate. - and a tear or two,.
But there's a guarantee of a lot more cheers than tears in this voyage through Letterkenny past and present.
And an inspirational and seasonal front cover offers a sparkling prelude to what's inside.
Thanks very much to the person, or persons, who, in the spirit of the season, saw fit to tear off the envelope containing the traditional Christmas gift we had left attached to the bin for the refuse collectors in gratitude for their year's toil.
What a gesture on behalf of humanity. I should add that said gift wasn't just torn off but also taken away.
Hardly likely the conscience of the culprit, or culprits, will trouble them as it's hard to be troubled by something you apparently haven't got.
Not all black and white
It just might be that we'll never ever again see that Guinness advertisement that rolls around at this time of the year, good as it is. Or at least if we do, it will be a revised version - something like the makers of the black stuff absolutely rejecting any notion of a return of the white stuff.
Anyway, I've had it. Had it up to here (you can't see here but you know what I mean). And if I never see another letter, or hear another whinger on the radio, complaining about little old Ireland not being able to cope with long periods of snow, despite ample warnings of its arrival, it won't be a day too soon.
Of course, we can't cope, we're not used to it or at least we hadn't been since it decided it wanted to pay us ever lengthier visits this year and last. How come, the complaint merchants keep snowing us under with the same old line, other countries don't shut down during the freezing season and we do? Thing is, of course, that most other countries do shut down when the big snow arrives - with a handful of honourable exceptions.
One letter writer to a national newspaper argued that we should be blaming Siberia for the bad weather which prompted a Dublin based Siberian to hit back claiming that conditions in his neck of the woods were nothing like they were here.
"In Siberia, when it snows, roads and pavements are cleared, schools continue to open, airports are not shut down, public transport continues to operate, pedestrians are not forced to walk in the road because the footpaths are so treacherous and the water supply is never interrupted.
"After many years living in Ireland, I still fail to understand why, at the first flurry of snow, the country grinds to a halt," says Vitaly Kravchenko.
Know what you're thinking - first I'm giving the cold shoulder to those who are telling us we can't cope and then I'm offering a platform to one of them. Only I'm inclined to agree with him, except on his final point which is:"I invite any politician to visit Siberia, where the temperature is hovering around minus 30 degrees, and life continues as normal…perhaps they may even decide it is better to stay there!".
There might not be too many arguments there but the point is, we don't need our political heads flying off on another expense laden junket to far distant climes.
But, hey, nothing to stop a clatter of Siberians coming here to tell us how to keep our roads open, our schools passable, and our airports free from Michael O'Leary before the next big ffffffffreeeeze gets here.
That's a cracker
Only read half a dozen of the traditional jokes that fall out of the Christmas crackers over the dinner table and here's the best/ of them:
If a crocodile skin makes a pair of shoes, what do you make from banana skins
Answer - slippers.
Did I say the best of them?