Places, — May 9, 2009 12:33 — 0 Comments

Playing in the bog

In the summer months we spent a lot of time in "the bog", which was an area of raised peat behind the house. Here we dug tunnels in the high banks and erected barricades on the heather and generally had a good time getting mucky and dirty.

We played cricket with tennis racquets for bats and an old car wheel for the wicket. We bowled a tennis ball underhand and loved to hear the wheel "ting" when it was hit. We climbed nearby trees and once built a substantial platform high up in a pine tree. We climbed up by the trunk and branches and returned to earth by rope. I carry a scar inside my right knee from those days caused by the ragged metal end of the shaft of a missing bicycle pedal.


I stayed overnight in the Reillys on a few occasions and can vividly remember the picture above the bed of an ocean liner at sea. As I drifted into sleep it was as though I was being borne away to far-off exotic places on the crests of deep blue ocean swells.


We explored the lanes and fields. We knew where the plum trees were and how to get to them. We ventured into deserted and tumbled down old buildings, looking for treasure which, we were sure, was somewhere to be found. In the autumn we made water pistols from thick green bog reeds and happily drenched each other, to the considerable chagrin of our mothers.


I recall some wonderful names – the "Grey Island", a large field, and the "Dirty Hollow", a dip in the road just before entering Crossmaglen, which was less than a mile from Reillys.


It was often late when we left for home and at a time when there was no electricity in the rural areas the dark was stygian, relieved only occasionally by flickering oil lamps and candles in isolated houses.


I remember clearly one stormy night of thunder and lightning that started up as mother and I were still half a mile from home. The lightning was splitting the sky and seemed now and then to strike the ground only yards away while the thunder exploded around us like bombs. For split seconds at a time the countryside for miles around would stand out stark and clear before disappearing in a huge blast of sound. We were blinded and deafened and I was convinced that we would never see home, and doubted if there would even be a home left when we got there.


But God was good and saw us safely through.


… more later … 

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