Friday 20 September 2019

This Man's Life


Walking on Carrauntoohil. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Walking on Carrauntoohil. Photo: Fáilte Ireland
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

I don't know what you did last Sunday - something profoundly civilised, no doubt. And I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it, too.

My family and I spent the bank holiday weekend stuck half way up a mountain pass in Kerry.

It is a bit of a story. But then there is no better place than Kerry for a bit of a story.

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We had set out for a walk. We were enjoying the views, the energy of the place. Isn't Kerry one of the most beautiful places in the world? And where else would you want to be when you get the weather?


Anyway, all was good with the world, and, more importantly, the young children.

Then it started to rain. It started to lash rain.

Only when we eventually returned to the car, drenched to the skin, with the wind howling around our ears in the Kingdom, did I realise just how high up we were.

Then, the car's engine stalled.

Mercifully, I got it started again, just as I was beginning to fear perishing on a mountain side with my wife and children.

I was a tad anxious, too, that the brakes mightn't hold the weight of the car with the wife and I (who had been busy eating our merry way across the Kingdom of Kerry) and the kids on the steep mountain road.

And we'd all go barrelling over the side of the mountain in the car, into the sea and to our deaths.

As if this weren't bad enough, I had parked on this small road facing up the mountain.

And it was tight and scary - with wet kids crying in the back seat - to reverse the car in such a small area; without accidentally backing over the side of a mountain and crashing to our deaths in the fog, which was now rolling in.

Out of the fog, however, stepped our saviour...

A man appeared on the road, suddenly.

In case he disappeared again just as quickly as he emerged, I got out and asked him, as you do, would he by chance be able to turn the car around on this dangerous road for us, please. He was only too happy to oblige.

We got the kids out of the car in the lashing rain, the howling wind, and the fog, and stood on the mountain pass road while a man we'd never met before took possession of the car keys from me and got into our car last Sunday afternoon in Kerry.

As this complete stranger closed the door of the car, I remarked (completely un- necessarily to say nothing of, even for me, over-dramatically) to my wife, out of ear-shot of the drenched-to-the-bone, and crying, children in our arms:

"Imagine if he drove off and left us to die up here on this lonely mountain road, like some horror movie!"

Needless to say, he didn't drive off and leave us to perish in the wilds of Kerry.

This absolutely lovely gentleman reversed the car and pointed it happily down the mountain; after which we all thanked the absolutely lovely man profusely for coming to our rescue.

After we said goodbye to the absolutely lovely gentleman, I drove the car safely down the mountain. (If our mountain messiah is reading this, thank you again.)

We stopped for ice-creams in Tralee on the long road home to Dublin.


After exposing our children so unsuccessfully to the elements in the Kingdom last weekend, my wife and I thought we'd really go for it and take them camping to the Kaleidoscope Festival in Russborough House, Blessington, Co Wicklow later this month.

Personally, I think we are being a bit ambitious.

What's the betting we'll be home in our own beds by 9pm on the first night - and not watching Bell X1, Wild Youth, The Riptide Movement, Delorentos and Wyvern Lingo play under a full moon in Co Wicklow.

I'm told that this event, which majors on family-friendliness, is "for the sophisticated taste of modern parents, discerning kids and all-knowing teens".

I'm sure our young kids will love that there are specific programs for them, as well as a fairy fort, a baby disco and many other things to keep their young selves entertained and happy on 200 acres.

My wife can enjoy the adventure sports, the morning runs, the meditation, the Tai Chi, the yoga, the woodland spa, while I worry about camping out with small kids.

I remember camping as an eight-year-old with a school friend in the back garden of our family home in Churchtown.

Embarrassingly, my mother came out to the tent every hour or so, to check I hadn't been taken by a lion, tiger or a jaguar in the night in the wilds of Dublin suburbia.

God bless her.

She brought tea at 7pm, supper at 10pm - kissing me goodnight as I settled down in my sleeping bag - and came back at 8am with a full breakfast for my friend and I.

The service was so good, I was tempted to move into the backgarden full time.

I hope my kids won't be expecting the same treatment at Kaleidoscope.

Sunday Independent

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