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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: October 11, 2010 @ 11:02 am

    A job for W.B.

    Pól Ó Muirí

    I was reared on the rattle and hum of British army helicopters. If I hear a clatter in the air, I assume it is part of the RAF zoo – Puma, Lynx, Gazelle, – going by. Imagine my surprise then to hear a clatter and see not a helicopter but a man flying above Lough Neagh on a microlight – a bit like James Bond and Little Nelly. He was floating above the lough shore just as casually as I was cycling. I know that human kind has had powered flight for a hundred years and that a man has walked on the moon but there is something very wondrous about watching a single man in his microlight buzz around the waters of Lough Neagh. We are so accustomed to jet travel and travelling at the speed of sound that we sometimes forget just how odd it is for us to fly. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition of pilot and water that made him stand out so much for me. For aeons, people have fished the lough for its eels and fish. The secret of its wealth lay beneath and that is where fishermen and their communities have looked for sustenance over thousands of years. Yet here was a man defying the water and its riches for a little sky ride. No dug-out wooden canoe for our airman and no Heaney poem for him either. He would do better perhaps with Yeats?

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