02 August 2010

Sneaking out of the tent in Portrane for a walk on the shoreline

A summer Sunday afternoon on the shingly beach beneath The Quay in Portrane (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

Patrick Comerford

The Great Portrane Summer Sale, in aid of Heart-to-Hand and its projects in Romania, continues all this weekend at The Quay, at the very end of the Donabate and Portrane Peninsula in North Co Dublin (Fingal).

I missed the first day of this year’s sale on Saturday because I was at the Leonard Cohen concert in Lissadell, Co Sligo. On Sunday morning, I took part in the Cathedral Eucharist in Christ Church Cathedral, reading the Gospel and serving as deacon. Immediately afterwards, I headed north to Portrane to help out at the bookstall in the large marquee at The Quay.

Unlike Saturday’s downpour in Lissadell, the rain held off all day yesterday, and this year’s fundraising efforts appear to be beyond all expectations, with the hope that at the close of business today we might even match last year’s figures.

Heart-to-Hand is a non-denominational, voluntary organisation, and each year the Great Portrane Sale raises thousands of euro to help this work.

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 care includes providing food, medicine, clothes and other forms of humanitarian aid. In more recent years it has also included education and training to help people fend for themselves.

The old Quay in Portrane once operated as a landing and departure point for boats to nearby Lambay Island (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

There was no lull on Sunday afternoon ... but I did manage to sneak out of the big marquee and steal 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 enjoy the views across to Lambay Island to the east and Rush to the north.

It’s difficult for me to stand on my feet all day when my feet are burning underneath with “pins-and-needles” as a consequence of my B12 deficiency, my knees are creaking, and my lungs can feel the pressure from the symptoms of sarcoidosis.

They can sell you anything at the Portrane sale during the August bank holiday weekend ... even Christmas decorations and presents (Photograph: Patrick Comerford

My cousins, the Lynders sisters, organise the best sales team in Ireland. Come to the last day of the sale today and they’ll try to sell you designer clothes, shoes, jewellery, toys, books, plants, furniture … even Christmas presents and decorations – everything except the kitchen sink to beat the recession.

To get to The Quay, Portrane, take Exit 4 off the M1, continue through Donabate, on to Portrane, and on to the end of the peninsula.

Perhaps I’ll see you at the book stall in the big marquee sometime this afternoon … you might even join me for a walk on the beach. It may not cure my symptoms, but a walk on the beach does me a power of good. And while I may have sarcoidosis, sarcoidosis does not have me.


Patrick Comerford adds on Tuesday 3 August 2010:

Books for sale in the big marquee in Portrane on Monday afternoon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

At the end of the day, the total raised at the sale came to over €30,000. In the present economic climate, it just shows that warmhearted generosity can continue to triumph over recessionary gloom.

This total matches previous years. It is 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 ... those who support it year-by-year, and those who came for the first time in 2010.

And yes, I still managed to get a late afternoon walk on the beach below The Quay. Sometimes it looks just as beautiful as those sometimes-clich├ęd movie shots of Malibu Beach, but I had it all to myself on Monday evening, as I watched two yachts sail by Lambay Island.

The beach below The Quay matched any images of Malibu Beach on Monday afternoon ... and I had it all to myself (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2010)

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