My 2010.

Well that’s pretty much it.

2010.

It’s a year we won’t have back.

How was it for you?

All of our 2010’s are a mixture of the persona, the familial and the societal.

My year as a journalist started reasonably well and couldn’t really have finished any better.

No more of that.

2010 was the year that, perhaps historians will conclude, that the Irish Independence project launched in the late 18th century, ended with the arrival of the IMF team in November. My hope for 2011 is that the governing parties will not again be in office for a generation.

I know I should be angrier about this than I am.

However my thoughts on this last day of 2010 is to the personal and the familial.

I cannot let this opportunity pass without remarking on the recent and sad passing of my friend John Hurst.

The owner of a wonderfully unique bookshop on James Street Westport this fine Southern Gentleman, was fond of referring to himself as a “Georgia Cracker”.

We had worked out that our respective clans were on the opposite side at the battle of Chickamauga.

John was the mainstay of the Westport writer’s group. A talented writer himself he was clearly in love with the written word.

Although we only had only known each other these last two years it was quite clear to both of us, the day I stepped into his shop out of old curiosity and had stayed the entire afternoon, that this was the start of a beautiful friendship.

I still can’t fully process the reality that he is gone.

I will miss him.

It is with this in mind that I focus on the fact that my brood are all safe and well and growing by the day.

For that, above all, I give thanks.

The core of any balanced life must be the people you love.

My son is a man. Taller than his old dad already.

He dispenses big manly hugs and computer advice to me in equal measure.

His sisters continue to amaze me, each on their own unique Camino.

They are all healthy and happy.

Materially there are no issues.

There is food on the table every day and the house is warm.

They have me in their life and the unconditional love and constant care of their mother.

Everything else is a very minor detail.

A couple of weeks ago I took some time out from work to walk to the Quay at Westport.
It’s a special place in my memories.

I once fished out of the Quay on the newest boat to be moored there.

I set sail on the wonderfully named  “Seumas Mac a Dang Dang”.

After a great struggle my tiny twelve-year-old arms landed a pollock.

I fed it to my auntie’s cat.

That was a balmy summer and the quay buzzed with activity.

This time we were in the deepest part of the freeze and I had the place to myself.

It was very cold here in Mayo.

A type of weather that my father would not have experienced here.

It was colder this year than even the terrible winter of 1947.

I fished off the quay as a boy in all the years since I had never seen the channel frozen.

The bird were swooping down and landing awkwardly on the ice then something dawned on me.

Although no ornithologist I swear there was fun in progress!

They were coming in like carrier-based planes and going for a merry slide on the ice.

Again and again they took off to have another go.

There didn’t seem to be any other point to this activity other than the sheer joy o landing on your tail and having a slide.

As I sat among the frozen lobster pots I remembered something from a previous phone conversation with a friend.

He had made an observation, which was intended to have an impact on me, but at the time I passed off as I had business in mind.

I then recalled the import of what he had said and its intended significance.

“You’re happy.” He had observed.

I didn’t answer him at the time.

As I sat at the Quay here where I belong and where my heart has always been watching the local slide show I finally replied to him.

“Yes. Yes I am.”

I hope all of you can say the same.

The very best to you and yours in 2011.