More Paul Brady than Christy Moore!

Trying to stave off cabin fever due to a snow storm gives a body time to think. Too much of it in fact. Primarily, thoughts turned to the last time these wheels were housebound in such circumstances. Most poignantly, that the two lieutenants who did most to aid escapism in what I think was 2010 are now directing operations at a bar counter in the sky.

Throughout the upheaval which is ongoing at the time of typing, the one story which keeps recurring is that of my father, brother and late uncle going across the fields to get to where our own cattle were being outwintered during another comparable occasion in 1982. Yours truly wasn’t old enough to require wheels at the time!

Whilst typing this, one was reminded of the Bob Segar hit You Never Can Tell. Did I ever honestly think that there’d be livestock on the horizon again, not least having to deal with such arctic scenarios?. Dreamt thereof, undoubtedly, but it couldn’t honestly have been foretold what exactly would come to pass in midsummer 2013.

A flat tractor battery and frozen water tanks and pipes are, very mercifully, as much as has gone wrong for us. Thoughts, however, turn to those who’ve had far greater hardships visited upon them during the weather crisis. Out of adversity comes good, mind you. The community spirit on show in these parts has been overwhelming and, doubtless, such has been the case throughout effected areas.

Personally speaking, two issues have dominated thought processes in recent times. One of which would be trivial to many – and maybe it is – but here it represents one of the staples of life being disrupted. The other, however, has become fundamental to one’s very existence and the absence thereof has been very unsettling.

To deal with the major one first. Now, I’m in the very fortunate position that family are never far away. So, while we’ve managed to get by while my carers have been unable to get here, there are so many nowhere near as lucky. Thoughts have also, however, been with carers who have been going above and beyond the call of duty. As these wonderful always do. Some of whom – known to me – have met with accidents in attempting to tend to their clients.

Add to that, though, certain important medical appointments being shelved and it’s where things get a bit tricky. That’s putting it mildly. As somebody who underwent a first major surgery at the age of 4, physical pain and difficulty is nothing new. Dealing with the emotional side of the hand life has dealt is infinitely more difficult. And it’s now evident that it has become more so as the years have gone on.

You know, someone once told me that they couldn’t hack Christy Moore’s music as it was too depressing – ‘Joxer’ and DTs aside. In one sense, such a viewpoint is understandable. However, I like to think of it as the lyrics in the Kildare man’s output having very deep meaning.

What can be said, though, is that there are times when it pays to be more Paul Brady than Christy. I mean that by way of referencing the former’s great hit The World Is What You Make It. For that is the way it must be travelling life’s journey in this seat. Adhering to that dictum is feverishly difficult, mind you, when considering some of the less open-minded mindsets encountered along the way. Like the one which once informed me that I “Wasn’t like” “Normal” lads. That was only a portion of what was actually said. There are certain areas of dealing with the hand which life has dealt from which public comment, at least, is strenuously refrained from. Therefore, to have to put up with verbals surrounding the topic in question – and in public – thereafter necessitating a few references here gives some indication of the deep and impactful nature of the marks that were left behind.

Insofar as is humanely possible one tries to make the best of what has been thrown up. Whether that be in terms of being as actively involved on the farm as can be or being able to actually retain some sort of contribution to sport, albeit via writing. There are certain areas though, where the void may never be filled.

At this point, it must be said that – as much as is possible – I try to abide by never saying never. That cannot, though, mask self doubt as to whether some ambitions – taken for granted by the masses – will ever be met. Lack thereof, even up to this point, has caused a process of very real grieving. Yes, you did read that right. To question the legitimacy of that hurt as was, to put it mildly, done in the instance referred to above is to magnify the level of heartache that has been carried for more than two decades thereafter.

All of which necessitated the now deferred sought after dates referred to earlier. To be honest, it never would have been envisaged that we’d end up on this road. Simply as sport has always been my safety net for getting over such hurdles. Lately though, even sport hasn’t been enough to dull the discomfort. Anyone that knows me well enough will recognise that – even more than writing and maybe farming – sport has always been the greatest buffer here when playing into the winds of life.

Therefore, cognisance that even that safety net has of late failed will give a stark indication of the gravity of what’s being tackled here. For instance, I recently attended my first GAA match of the season. Thus marking 28 consecutive years on the circuit. Our lads recorded a good and needed victory of Gaeil Colmcille. Thing was, while bodily I may have appeared to be ‘into it’, the mind was a thousand miles away.

That’s not me. Not fast enough could the two pints one nagged oneself to have be downed so as to return to the cocoon. Again, not par for the course. Here’s the irony, even though the maelstrom which has engulfed matters has even inveigled its way into my ‘relationship’ with sport, the latter surely provides the surest route away from ongoing travails.

Yet the complexity of the situation is underscored again when what has often been referred to here previously as ‘the pang’ strikes again. That is to say, the sense of loss at the realisation that, for all writing allows one to get closer to the action than most, that will forever be the sum of it.

Which is what makes certain issues which have got plenty of traction elsewhere in the press all the more difficult to stomach. Actually, no, it’s even more intricate than that. I do not want this to be a case of “What would I give to be able to play for Meath?” Even though that thought is there. Of course it is.

But no, greatest upset surrounding the episode in question surrounds those who soldiered over the years for meagre, or in some cases no, reward. It’s worth thinking about the fact that some of the greatest ever to pull on a green and gold jersey toiled for what to many players would be an entire career and won nothing before going on to give some of us the best days of our lives and inspired those who followed on. Or at least you’d think that’s what would happen.

Yet, this is not just a Meath issue. To witness Jim Gavin give of his time in Kilkenny is to realise what the game means to people. The story of another great player, Emlyn Mulligan of Leitrim, has been well documented too. And it’s not just a football issue. Think of those from prominent hurling counties who’ve travelled far and wide – and plenty of times to these parts – out of recognition to the devotion of those to the game which is an intrinsic part of their lives. To boost the profile thereof as well.

What may be routine or taken for granted for one could be someone else’s Everest. If you have it, don’t undervalue it.

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