Returning to the site for the evening solstice the attendance were entertained by a session of poetry readings led by local man Martin Shea and organised by the South Kilkenny Historical Society. It was estimated that over one hundred and fifty people attended, with many having arrived after a brisk walk from the car park at the lake in Windgap, even though it was obvious that the foggy evening would not allow the sun to light the western tomb. Although on both occasions the visitors were denied the spectacle of a sunlit chamber all those present can only marvel at the accomplishments of our ancestors when they built the chambers over four thousand years ago. Many of those present had seen the spectacle in previous years and for those who haven't there's always next year. With the attendance growing annually there was both discussion and concern that a suitable parking area would be provided within walking range of the site before the next solstice.
BRAVEHEARTS AND LIONHEARTS WALK ON: The hardy resolve of the walkers who set off on the Windgap Community Development annual St. Stephens day fun walk was rewarded within minutes as they crested the hill on the roadside under Carraig Na gCapall on the way towards Lamogue. Having gathered at the GAA rooms well before the scheduled eleven o’clock start, a typical prolonged winters downpour, attempted to put a damper on the planned activities. Having covered the new amenity walk and after being stewarded across the Carrick to Callan road the dreariness of the day suddenly lifted. The disappearance of the rain, fog and mist slowly revealed panoramic scenes as the walkers crossed the Kilmoganny road at Barnatrasna and swept downhill towards the halfway point of the fourteen kilometre route in Tullahought. On the way the participants now reaching almost sixty of all age groups saw the walkers sidestep the water puddled byroads whilst the runners glided over most of them in their stride. After refreshments that included mulled wine and other sweets and treats in Powers over a third of the group took on the more challenging return journey. Heading down the “Long Pavement” towards Delaney's before making the turn back through the Slatequarries for Windgap the local waterfall fed from the local town’s lands of Poulrone and Kilmacoliver was white with the volume of water rushing down it from the morning’s rain. Just a hundred yards further on the small river which fed the nearby mill wheel from the top was showing the paleish brown colours of an abating flood that was still being fed from its source just a couple of miles away in Ballinalinagh. Another couple of hundred yards on saw their eventual destination as they ran into the Lingaun River on its way to the Suir at the Three Bridges. Now at its full height from the ongoing wet weather it had yet to reach its full flood tempest and colour as the water from its extended catchment area back to the base of Slievenamon had yet to arrive. Along the route to the Slatequarries the walkers passed the “Julia’s” bridge still lying at a forty five degree angle after it fell into the river to the great floods of "1947" In the heart of the quarries the walkers regretted the loss of an icon from a greater flood as the now non existent sight of Noah's Ark built of slate atop the cliff over the Ormond Quarry during a Slatequarries Arts festival in the early nineteen nineties was no longer to be seen. Its demise brought about by vandals who threw the selected cut slates into the water filled quarry seventy feet below where the absence of the white water rings at the waters edge reflected the higher water table levels at this time of the year. As the walker headed by Knockroe just days after the winter’s solstice at the Coshel the area was flooded by warm sunshine as the various access routes to the Coshel including the one across the generally dry stream bed at the Maggie Russell's end were discussed. A new feature of the walk that was led off by the recently elected Kilkenny County GAA secretary Jimmy Walsh saw the photos appear on the parish website windgap.ie thanks to the efforts of Noel Smith and Lena Power before the first of the walkers made it back to the starting point in Windgap. The reflection on the success of the day was measured in the feeling of the disappointment that would have been felt, sitting at home looking out the window, after the day opened up and all the camaraderie of meeting people and the badly needed exercise was missed for another year. The funds raised went to provide the insurance cover for the amenity area for the year ahead
COME INTO THE PARLOUR: Welcoming candles lighting in the Community Centre in Tullahought for the evening midnight and morning Christmas masses for over a generation were surpassed on Christmas day when all of the congregation at the Christmas morning mass in Windgap were invited to the now unoccupied Parochial House for refreshments. On the day almost one hundred people attended and shared in a joyous social occasion with tea, coffee, Baileys Irish cream, mulled wine, hot whiskeys and edibles that included fingers of Christmas cake. Such was the popularity of the event that many visitors had sufficient time to travel to reflect with departed family members and friends in the local churchyard before returning to meet their neighbours and visitors to the area in the packed sitting room and dining room of the villages big house. Bedecked with Christmas decorations and candles the fir scented atmosphere with low key mood music enhanced the seasonal timing of the event. Hosts for the big social occasion were Kate Moloney and the Ryan family of John, Katriona and Eoin who all ensured a welcome new event has arrived on the parish’s social calendar.
HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: The attraction of celebrating at home saw visitors flock to the parish from the four corners of the world. On the occasion many visitors brought the added joy of unforecast visits to their unsuspecting families. For another, the first visit of four month old Kimberly Power to the parish was celebrated with her baptism in St Nicholas Church in Tullahought on Sunday. Kimberly is the first daughter of Paraic and Natha who travelled with her parents, Uncle Sean, Uncle Aidan and his wife Yvonne with and their three children from Dubai for the family occasion. A new feature in the area this Christmas saw the flickering lights of the new defibrillators add a festive look to the school and parochial house in Windgap and the Community Centre in Tullahought where they joined the lighted Christmas trees in providing additional colour in both villages. With another young local couple emigrating on Christmas Eve the flights and ferries were busy over the weekend ferrying people home and then back again across the skies and waves to their current homes and employment bases.
MOUSE RACING: The Hurling Clubs Mice Race night takes place on January 12th in Powers of Tullahought. To purchase a runner for the event contacts any club or committee member.
WALKING CLUBS: After a short sojourn for the Christmas festivities, the weekly walks resume on Thursday next in Tullahought and again on the following Monday evenings and in Windgap on Saturday mornings.
MUSIC SESSIONS: A feature of the area over the holiday break was the amount of the local public houses that provided live traditional sessions on a regular basis, and had visits from the wren boys on St. Stephens’s day. On this Saturday a traditional music session will take place in Guinans in honour of the late Fr Martin Cleere. The event will be a fundraiser for the Homecare team. All are very welcome to the session that starts at 9.30. The session will be followed by an Anniversary Mass for Fr Martin that will take place on Sunday 30th at 10am in the Parish Church in Windgap.
CLUB MERCHANDISE: A limited number of new red jerseys and socks suitable are available for adult training. Also a small supply of new hoodies and some end of range stock. For further information contact 051 648366
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE: Following all of the improvements in the Parish Hall and the memories of the Christmas Day party in the Parochial House it may be a full house with standing room only as the bar has been raised for the next meeting of the group which takes place on January 15th in the GAA Club Rooms.
BRIDGE: Winners at the Bridge game held in the Olde house recently were 1st Alice Lanigan and Stella Tennyson, Best Gross: Sarah Crowley and Moira Hickey. 2nd, Rita Townsend and Paddy Reade. 3rd. Mary Walsh and Rita Phelan. 4th Pat Arrigan and Agnes Foley
NOTES: Contributors and Clubs are invited to email items for publication with a name and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday evenings at 6pm