2014: Many mem­o­rable times and some sad farewells too

Bray People - - OPINION - david looby david.looby@peo­ple­news.ie

BLOATED, jaded and feel­ing my age, it has been a long week but now as I sit down to write my fi­nal col­umn of the year thank­fully I can re­port that Christ­mas in the Looby house­hold passed with­out too many glitches.

Santa ar­rived and the Whirl­wind Princess was de­lighted with her new kitchen and doll and the Lit­tle Fella, (who is now stand­ing for over a minute and on the verge of walk­ing), is en­joy­ing his blue toy car and lit­tle foot­ball game.

Even at 37, a child-like sense of ex­cite­ment still con­sumes me on Christ­mas morn­ing. Th­ese days it’s a more vi­car­i­ous en­joy­ment upon see­ing my chil­dren’s joy, but still the un­wrap­ping of the presents is al­ways some­thing I look for­ward to.

This year as The Good Woman pro­duced a big bag of gifts from be­hind the sofa, I was start­ing to get into the gift re­ceiv­ing mood. Hav­ing hinted at some of the items I needed, (slip­pers and a gift voucher), I opened the first present to find a toaster tongs. Yes, a toaster tongs for re­mov­ing toast from the toaster. Not to worry there were more treats in store. The next tiny present was a pink egg timer. I kid you not - pink.

Un­daunted I plucked up the courage for present num­ber three and at last it was the much cov­eted new slip­pers to re­place my tatty old ones with the cracked in half soles. Squeez­ing on the new slip­pers I dis­cov­ered to my hor­ror that they didn’t fit. Un­de­terred I opened the next gift, a pair of loung­ing pants. As loung­ing is some­thing I’m quite good at I was thrilled; even moreso be­cause the waist wasn’t too tight. Sadly the legs were too long and it was de­cided they were for the to-be-re­turned pile. The hik­ing socks fit­ted per­fectly and as am­bi­tion presents go I could see what track The Good Woman was on by pre­sent­ing them to me. Hik­ing was once a fair­weather hobby of mine but like all hob­bies it fell by the way­side when the chil­dren ar­rived. The fancy pen was another nice touch and I’ll be keep­ing it for non work func­tions.

The Christ­mas din­ner was the big­gest chal­lenge of 2013 but this year it had all the cer­e­mony of cook­ing a chicken. The only tri­umph was the sausage and cran­berry stuff­ing which was a rev­e­la­tion, so much so it kept re­veal­ing it­self on plates both at our home and in the in-laws in Camolin over the forth­com­ing days.

The fol­low­ing days were a blur of af­ter­noon Qual­ity Street bing­ing and Christ­mas pud­ding over­dos­ing (and I’m not even a fan). The belt­less ex­cess was in­dulged and all sur­feit plea­sure en­joyed, but it was all too much and it was nice to get back home to some form of nor­mal­ity on Sun­day, hav­ing en­joyed a re­lax­ing stay with the in-laws and cousins.

ALL too of­ten I canna­balise my per­sonal life in th­ese col­umn inches but it is only fit­ting that to­day, with only a few days left be­fore we pass into 2015, that I look beyond the nar­row con­fines of my life and re­mem­ber some of the great Wex­ford peo­ple who passed away in 2014, namely George Bridges and artist and sculp­tor Peter Hod­nett.

Although I only met Peter once at his work­shop in his Fer­rycar­rig home where he cre­ated fan­tas­tic pieces of func­tional art and amaz­ing sculp­tures, he made an im­pres­sion on me. The de­tail in his works as­ton­ished me and he went on to cre­ate two Wex­ford mon­u­ments which will be with us for decades if not cen­turies to come, the fan­tas­tic ‘Eter­nal Flame’ in New Ross or ‘Men of Iron’ in Wex­ford.

Nei­ther of th­ese well-known pieces dis­play any ref­er­ence to the man who cre­ated them and that is no doubt how such a hum­ble artist as Peter would have wanted it.

George Bridges is some­one I knew for over a decade and what struck me about him from that first en­counter right through to a phone con­ver­sa­tion with him in 2013 was his en­dur­ing pas­sion for Wex­ford and for lo­cal causes from the trees in Trim­mer’s Lane close to where he lived to the scouts which he was a mem­ber of for over 75 years. Such de­vo­tion to the com­mu­nity was laud­able but to most peo­ple George was Wex­ford’s toy shop owner, who of­ten de­liv­ered toys right up un­til the early hours of Christ­mas day, to bring smiles and joy to chil­dren. Like a lat­ter day Santa Claus, George had an in­fec­tious smile and a warm face with alert eyes. He did not have Santa’s belly though and he kept him­self in­cred­i­bly well as evinced by his ra­zor sharp mind. His pass­ing aged 94, fol­low­ing a tragic ac­ci­dent, has left a huge void in the life of his home­town and in the lives of all who knew him, but his pas­sion­ate per­son­al­ity and gen­tle and charm­ing na­ture will re­main undimmed for all who had the plea­sure to know him.


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