Letterkenny man and former Derry Journal editor Pat McArt reminded us that even during this dreadful pandemic, Donegal is still the most wonderful place.
“I was 67 this week.
“October 6, 1953 seems a long way away now, doesn’t it …the day I was born? It was, apparently, a Tuesday – like this year – and if a dog had been born that same day it would now be 288 years old. Google told me that.
“Because of Covid it was a very different birthday this year. The current wife decided that rather than sit around and look at each other in glum despair on my big day we should get out and see some more of the beautiful county – i.e Donegal – we live in. Because of Covid that’s as far as we can go; we are not allowed to leave it.
“But it’s no punishment. Some mornings we get up, have a bit of toast and a cup of coffee and away we go on a magical mystery tour. It’s great fun. We, quite literally, haven’t a clue where we are headed and, a bit like being guided by a throw of the dice, if we see a side road that takes our fancy we are off. It’s totally random. And it has been brilliant. Not exactly Thelma and Louise I know but don’t knock it until you have tried it.
“Out wee tour on Tuesday took us to west Donegal. We ended up in Daniel O’Donnell country, in Loughanure. It is claimed there is a lake in that area for every day of the year and I believe it.
“Anyway. I saw a cottage beside one of those lakes – I even took a photo of it to prove to myself it is real – that looked like it came out of Brigadoon or some other Hollywood fantasy. Put it like this – if I ever win the Lotto I am going to track down the owner of the house and tell him/her ‘Here’s a blank cheque …fill in the amount yourselves’. Absolutely beautiful. A highlight.
“But the reason I am writing this is to share something I think is truly profound. I didn’t have a party or got any big presents or any of that malarkey …we just had a nice day out. A good-for-the-soul day out. But know what the nicest part was? When we got home my youngest son came on the phone and said, ‘Hold on, Da…listen..’ and on came my wee grandson singing ‘Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.”
“To tell you the truth it made my day. You can be given a bottle of wine, a bottle of whiskey, tickets for a hotel break or whatever, but they are transient things, unlike the voice of a lovely wee boy – he’ll be three shortly – singing down the phone. That’s a memory that’ll stay with me forever.
“It really is the simple things that make the big difference, isn’t it?”