Monday, 1 August 2011

Raising money at the book stall and walking the beaches of Portrane

Lambay Island from the beach below The Quay, Portrane, this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Patrick Comerford

The rain had cleared this afternoon, the sun was struggling to break through the grey clouds, and it stayed warm for most of the afternoon In Portrane for the last day of the great Bank Holiday Weekend sale on behalf of Heart to Hand and its projects in Albania, Bosnia, Moldova and Romania.

The sale is organised each year at The Quay, at the very end of the Donabate and Portrane Peninsula by my Lynders cousins, and is a celebrated annual fixture in the calendar in this part of Fingal in North Co Dublin.

This great sale has become one of the busiest calendar events in Portrane, and is run each year in aid of “Heart to Hand,” which was set up to care for the poorest of the poor in countries like Albania, Bosnia, Moldova and Romania. This work includes providing food, medicine, clothes and other forms of humanitarian aid, as well as education and training.

Once again I was working on the book stall in the big tent this weekend. I still find it difficult to stand on my feet all day when my feet are burning underneath with “pins-and-needles” because of my B12 deficiency, and – despite the improvements brought about by medication in recent weeks – long standing leaves my knees are creaking, and I have an irritating dry cough as part of the symptoms of sarcoidosis.

However, as the afternoon got brighter and we came towards the end of the sale, I managed to slip out of the big marquee for a 15-minute walk on the shoreline beneath the house my grandmother was married from, and to enjoy the small waves rippling onto the shingly shore and the views across to Lambay Island to the east and Rush to the north.

A lone heron on The Burrow Beach in Portrane late this afternon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2011)

Sometimes the beach below The Quay appears to as beautiful as those sometimes-clichéd movie shots of Malibu Beach. But I had it all to myself this evening as I watched two yachts sail by Lambay Island. Later, as I looked down at the Burrow Beach on the other side of The Quay, one lone heron long regal and triumphant as he stepped gracefully across the sand and through the gentle waves on the shoreline.

Although the popularity of second-hand books is in steep decline, by the end of the day we had made about €300 on the book stall today. The total raised at this year’s sale comes to over €28,000. That’ may be a little down on last year’s €30,000, but in the present economic climate this year’s figure shows how warm-hearted generosity continues to hold up and to triumph over any economic gloom.

Once again, this sale in a tribute to Mary Lynders, her daughters, and the team of volunteers they manage to attract year-by-year: stallholders, tent-raisers, beggars, borrowers, cooks, wheel-spinners, money-counters, sellers and buyers. And it is a tribute too to the warm-hearted generosity of those who support this fund-raising effort.