11 January 2019

‘All the day long … until
the shadows lengthen
and the evening comes’

Walking by the River Deel at the bridge and the castle in Askeaton on Thursday evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

Patrick Comerford

Daffodils are already beginning to show signs of promise in this part of West Limerick, and the evenings are beginning to lengthen. The mornings are still dark, and sunrise in Askeaton is not until 8:41 this morning [11 January 2019]. But sunset is at 16:43, which is more than eight hours of daylight today.

We sometimes jest in Ireland at this time of the year, ‘There’s a grand stretch in the evening now.’

Even after sunset, there is a brightness in the skies, and the birdsong intensifies at dusk, as if to hail the lengthening days with welcoming notes of joy.

I may not get out for an early morning walk before sunrise this morning. But it was still bright when I went for a walk late yesterday afternoon by the banks of the River Deel, along past the swimming pool and the friary ruins and out to the bend on the river at Gurt where Desmond Rowing club will soon resume its evening activities and where the Deel flows out into the Shannon estuary.

The brighter weather allowed brisk walks earlier this week on the beaches at Beale and Ballybunion in north Kerry, at the harbour in Foynes and by the River Maigue in Adare.

Over the last few days, friends have been sending me photographs of heavy snow throughout Greece, including Crete, Athens, Thessaloniki and Mount Athos, so I am not being too complacent about the weather in this part of Ireland at the moment.

Although I have planned visits within the next few weeks to Prague and Porto, and to Crete for Greek Easter at the end of April, I recall all too easily how the ‘Beast from the East’ put a stop to my plans to visit Warsaw last year.

Lent and Easter are late this year, with Ash Wednesday on 6 March and Easter Day on Easter Day on 21 April in the West and on 28 April in the East.

But there is still a hint of Spring in the air, and while there is there is a spring in my step and I am enjoying the opportunities the lengthening days present for my walks by the rivers and beaches of west Limerick and north Kerry.

Walking by the River Deel at Gurt on Thursday evening (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

There is a well-known prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman that has been adapted in prayer books throughout the Anglican Communion:

Support us, O Lord,
all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes,
the busy world is hushed,
the fever of life is over
and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging,
a holy rest, and peace at the last;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Blue skies and blue seas at Beale Strand earlier this week (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2019)

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