My Castleconnell

This Story is: True Story

My Castleconnell
By Liam McNamara.

Covid19, Level 5, Level 3, Restrictions, Cases going up, Cases going down, Donald Trump and Brexit fill the airwaves on the commute to and from work and on the workshop radio’s as they blare 9hrs a day to dry drown out the sounds of cutting, grinding, burning, welding and fabrication. Winter is here so it’s made all the harder now as the working day begins and ends in darkness, on arrival home to Castleconnell I’m greeted at the back door by Belle whose ready for her evening walk, we set off out of Castlerock where the neighbour’s always nod or wave on passing by, heading down the dark lane towards Gurien’s Pub we’ll always encounter a couple of dog walkers, we can only see a figure because of the darkness but an “hello” is always exchanged, the light from Sloan’s pharmacy guides the way as we cross the road and head down the hill to aroma from Protea Coffee house, there’s 3 colourful figures making their way quickly towards us, it’s the local power walkers, we stand in as they zoom pass but they always say thank you, Belle starts to tug on her lead I turn to see her looking in at Tony in McDermott’s butcher’s and licking her lips in the hope of some scraps as he closes for the night, with a gong of the church bell we cross the road again and return the wave and greeting sent to us from George at the doorway of Shannon Stores, as we pass the church gate it invokes memories of both happy and sad times spent there, a floodlight illuminates the ruins of Castleconnell Castle as we pass and turn in past the playground to the gem of our village the mighty River Shannon, we continue along the riverbank turning onto the footbridge where I hope to catch a glimpse of a bat twisting and turning within the moonlight, the cold air hits you and the bridge is rumbling beneath you with the sound of the Shannon, it’s been coming together since we left the house but there it is a moment’s peace and the madness of the day is forgotten about. We continue up the steps and through the manicured grounds of the Castle Oaks hotel, on crossing the road we pause briefly outside the graveyard to acknowledge those who rest there, we continue onto Belmont Rd where an “hello” is shouted and once again the power walkers zoom by as were almost home.

The same routine all week but the excitement builds as the weekend arrives, Friday evening sees the camera bag packed in preparation for an early start Saturday morning, I leave the house and arrive on the river just as the darkness beings to lift, the sky ignites with colours as the sun rises reflecting upon the river, as I take my first few photographs the dawn chorus begins and I know I haven’t got long now before the river bursts into life, I see several different figures wave at me as our other local photographer’s arrive, we cross paths on the footbridge and exchange stories of what wildlife and where we’ve seen them, the conservation is quickly interrupted as an Otter begins his morning feed and our cameras are put into action, behind us we hear an almighty banging and commotion as we turn to see the first of the swans beginning to take flight, we continue over the bridge through the woodland where a rustle within the leaves draws our eyes to the beautiful sight of a red squirrel, we head back to the waters edge where we photograph, Herons, Ducks, Swans, Cormorants, Dippers, Kingfishers and endless small birds like Robin’s and finches etc, our morning ends back on the footbridge where the village has awoken now, dog walkers, fishermen, runners and families all out enjoying our beautiful village, each one stopping for a moment for a chat to see what we’re photographing or just to say hello.

We’re blessed to live a tiny slice heaven where we can forget about life for a while.

This story is True Story