Friday, 2 March 2018

A walk in the snow in
Askeaton and wondering
about weekend plans

Snow at Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton, covers the churchyard this afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

It’s like a winter wonderland in Askeaton today.

I was supposed to be in Dublin today, co-chairing an interfaith seminar in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and present as a representative of the Diocese of Limerick and Killaloe. But that was cancelled on Wednesday morning, due to the ‘red alert’ warnings that predicted a nation-wide shut-down by today.

I might never have got there, anyway, as most public transport has been cancelled since mid-day yesterday.

Even still, I thought the worst of the ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Emma’ had by-passed this part of West Limerick. But panic set into this area by Thursday morning, and people were buying in bulk before the shops closed in the early afternoon.

Nobody expects the ‘bleak mid-winter’ after the daffodils have begun to bloom. The alerts were for other parts of Ireland, especially Leinster and south Munster. The snow was falling heavily as darkness began to close in last night.

Snow covers the rectory garden and the fields beyond (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

I awoke to see the rectory grounds covered in blanket-upon-blanket of snow this morning. The birds are hopping around all day, as it continues to snow, searching for any morsels of food in the snow.

I worked in the house all morning, preparing work for the week after next, and looking after a few administrative tasks. But by this afternoon I needed to get out, even if only for a few logs for the fire later this evening.

Once out, I had to go for a walk.

Some snow is melting in East Square, Askeaton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Almost every shop in Askeaton is closed, including the SuperValu supermarket, the hardware shop, the pharmacists, the coffee shop and the swimming pool and leisure centre. Even shops that had posted notices in their windows saying they would open by noon today were still closed at 3 p.m.

Only one or two pubs were open. But it’s Lent, and it was too early in the day to call in to see how many people had decided to go out this afternoon. The only real life on the streets was a few children playing snowballs, and another man enjoying taking photographs from the bridge of the castle covered in snow.

I called on a parishioner, checked on the church and the churchyard, and walked as on across the bridge and along the banks of the River Deel far as the Leisure Centre on the bank opposite the ruins of the Franciscan Friary.

Snow at Askeaton Friary on the banks of the River Deel (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Back in the Rectory, it seemed wise to consult parishioners in Tarbert about the wisdom of continuing with or cancelling Morning Prayer next Sunday in Saint Brendan’s Church, Kilnaughtin. It is on a steep hill outside the town, looking down on the Shannon Estuary, and parishioners who live further away are unlikely to brave the snow piles and icy roads on Sunday morning.

After a few phone calls it seemed best to call off this one service, but to continue with plans for the Parish Eucharist at 930 on Sunday morning in Saint Mary’s Church, Askeaton.

I have plans to fly out from Shannon Airport on Sunday afternoon for a short city break in Warsaw. I was hoping to see the site of the Warsaw Ghetto and other sites in the Polish capital, and Shannon Airport is due to open for flights again tomorrow.

The poet Michael Harding had an epic return journey to Leitrim from Warsaw this week that brought him through Liverpool and Shannon with Ryanair. But getting from Shannon to Warsaw is becoming increasingly unlikely as we move into the weekend, and there is a growing possibility that those plans are going to be cancelled too.

Snow falls on on the ruins of Askeaton Castle (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

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