A load of photos pop up in my Facebook timeline, memories of these days in different years and much different times.
I start to save this and that photo down from my Facebook account and on to my phone memory.
I do this because I don’t know how to go in and find a memory on a day that’s not this exact day that Facebook archives it.
Of course, if it’s a memory of June and it’s my memory chances are it’s only going to be one thing, the Donegal Rally.
Reality clicks in halfway through this process and I asked myself why are you re-saving these memories, who are you going to meet or who are you going to show these to? Then I end up more frustrated than anything else.
The third weekend in June was always going to be a difficult time to navigate through this year after the passing of Manus Kelly on last year’s Donegal.
But as this weekend approaches, I realise there’s one thing that could be possibly worse than going through this rally weekend on the 1st anniversary of Manus Kelly’s passing – it is the emptiness of going through the weekend without the rally happening.
The longest day of the year is in a few days time this Saturday the 20th of June, called Summer Solstice, that’s the day when the earth is at its maximum tilt towards the sun.
Up in this wee corner of the world Sunday will also be a long day for us, as in the day of the week and then Tuesday the 23rd the actual date which will be our longest days this year when our sun went out as Manus Kelly departed this world.
God knows we had a lot of long days this year since the spring when the world went into complete lock-down. We were left alone with our thoughts. And sometimes that bit of time helps but you also need to take them thoughts out of your head and into a conversation, difficult as that may seem.
One of my regrets in life is spending too much time over-thinking things and ending up doing nothing. For people like me, Manus Kelly was the hero that you imagined the heights you never could reach.
Donegal Rally time is a time of anticipation, right from the time you tore open the plastic wrapping on the Donegal Rally Programme and got that smell of fresh print mixed with that familiar smell of a rally programme and map hits your senses.
Looking through the entry list seeing names and finding familiar locations on the maps of stages have you looking forward to the weekend’s rally and also have you travelling down memory lane thinking of fellow rally fans, organisers and competitors and most of all the best of friends that are no longer with us, remembering them in their absolute element on the weekend of the Donegal Rally.
Wearing that rally jacket of the time or getting a Donegal Rally weekend sunburn. For me I’m more likely to imagine I hear their laugh or I see their smile in a crowd, watching them crossing and catching on a barb wire fence to get a better view or standing fou deep in the Mt. Errigal Hotel and nodding over to you and at the same time trying to get the attention of a flat out barman. Moments you have enjoyed their company on the biggest weekend on the Irish motorsport calendar.
Then to see a fellow Donegal man like Manus looking out the small square light-weight window throughout his career at the finishing ramp of a blue ribbon event like the Donegal International. Memories of him punching the air in his Mk2 Escort finishing second in the nationals and his young son Charlie waving out the window as they leave the ramp all come flooding back.
And in the years that Manus was the winner in the national and then as three times overall winner, he wouldn’t be happy until he would have everyone from Glenswilly, Milford and a few more parishes up on the finishing ramp to join in on the celebration of his and Donall Barrett’s success.
On the weeks running into Donegal missing the build-up of the recce, not seeing them ‘Big Cut’ tell-tales signs of note-making across grass verges on corners and the work of private preparations that residents along stages do every year to make Donegal even better looking than it is are all missing this year.
It doesn’t matter if you know him as ‘Mandy’, ‘Manus’, ‘Manus Kelly’, ‘Kelly’ or just ‘Sur’ remember him this week in your thoughts which might in some way help you and also help others that miss him so much.