Summer stories: sliotars, sounds, forecasts and fodder . . . and 99s
Lucinda Creighton, weather man Gerald Fleming, Dublin hurler Peter Kelly, MCD promoter Brian Spollen and others look back on the big events of the summer
Residents of Our Lady’s Manor nursing home, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford enjoy ice cream at Lough Key Forest Park, Boyle, Co Roscommon. Photograph: Brian Farrell
Fine Gael’s Lucinda Creighton waves goodbye after voting against the Goverment in the vote on the abortion legislation. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Dublin overcome Kilkenny in the All Ireland hurling championship. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Jimmy Griffin after surgery after he was bitten by a conger eel while scuba-diving in Connemara. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy
Damien McCarthy, Darragh Gibbs and Jamie Kennedy from Carrick-on-Suir arriving at Oxegen. Photograph: Alan Betson
Fodder brought in to Co Leitrim from Brighton, England. Photograph: Eric Luke
Lucinda Creighton feels “strangely exhilarated” about the outcome of her very political summer.
“This has been a tale of two summers for me. The first part was frenetic. I spent every week of May and June traveling to different countries as we reached the final stages of Ireland’s EU presidency. I was in Washington DC for meetings on the EU-US trade deal, represented the Government in the European Parliament, met the new European Affairs Minister of France in advance of the EU summit, accompanied President Higgins on his State visit to Croatia, and much more. It was exhausting but very interesting work. Then it all came grinding to a halt (in more ways than one).
We concluded the presidency with a low-key “thank you” reception for our hard-working civil servants in Dublin Castle. Very quickly I found myself in the midst of the intense and difficult abortion debate. I voted against the legislation and found myself kicked out of my party and essentially dismissed from my job as Minister of State for European Affairs.
The latter part of the summer has been less of a whirlwind, but it has been busy. I moved out of Government Buildings and returned to Leinster House, where I had to respond to thousands of emails, messages and letters I received in the aftermath of my expulsion from Fine Gael. I had time to reflect upon the future. I feel strangely exhilarated and excited about the opportunity that my colleagues and I now have to really try to effect some change on the Irish political landscape. The next six months might well be far more interesting than the last six months. Time will tell.”
Ice-cream had a bumper summer, as Caroline Smith of Smith’s Ice Cream Vans explains.
“Those couple of weeks we had in July had a good impact. Ger [Caroline’s husband] is in this game over 30 years and I’m with him for 15, so it’s a long time since we got a good summer. That said, it has a knock-on negative impact when the weather drops again.
“You have to make hay when the sun shines, so it’s seven days a week, non-stop. We have 15 vans, so we would have pitches on certain beaches. The pitches vary year to year but we were lucky this year with Malahide beach, Donabate beach and Bettystown beach. We do events as well, whether it’s a vintage show, an agricultural show, that kind of thing.
“I was run ragged at one stage. My phone never stopped ringing. When the sun shone, everyone in the country wanted ice-cream vans. Corporate business took off. The phone never stopped with companies ringing to treat their staff last minute. They’d ring up looking for a van the same day, so the logistics are difficult from my perspective, because obviously you don’t want to turn it down.
“We run from February through to the end of October, then it’s holiday time for me. Mine’s a 99 with no sauce. I hate the sauce.”
Farmers emerged from a rough winter and early summer into a glorious harvest season. Eddie Downey is a farmer and deputy president of the Irish Farmers’ Association.
“I had actually sold some silage earlier in the spring to try and get the neighbours out of trouble, so we ended up very tight at the end of that. I’m in Co Meath, and there are a lot of farmers here who had similar problems. Almost every farmer in the county ran out of feed; that never happened before.
“We went over to England and bought 8,000 tons-worth of maize silage. We also brought a lot of hay in from England. Myself and a colleague of mine went to France to buy hay. When we got there, a farmer told us there were 2,000 bales in the area.
“We said we’d take them all if he organised it, and he said ‘No, the farmers have to meet these men buying the hay’. There was a sense of pride among the French, sending their hay over to Ireland, and we were like the men from Del Monte.
“It’s hard to believe now we’ve come through such a wonderful summer where we’re harvesting in such perfect conditions. It’s such a contrast. Seeing that first load of hay being brought in to Roscommon and seeing farmers queueing up and going away happy – that was the highlight of my entire time in the IFA.”
Jimmy Griffin runs a bakery business in Galway. In June a freak underwater attack he suffered became a global news story.
“I’ll never forget it, June 9th. It was my first dive in two years and I was attacked by a conger eel. I had extensive reconstructive surgery to save my face. I’m in business, I can’t afford to be sick, so I had to put a brave face on it. I went back to work within the week, but I had to operate behind the scenes more. I had a very bad scar, stitches, the wound was infected. Let’s just say you wouldn’t like to see me coming serving your food. But it was a matter of getting back down to it.