Monday, December 21, 2009

Nearly Home for Christmas

On my way to work this freezing December morning, my fingers throbbing and stinging with pain from the cold, I came across something I hadn't seen before. There in the middle of the car park was a pile of dung, horse dung. Sidestepping the dung a feeling of separateness, a detachment washed over me. I was removed. Distant but familiar sounds and smells seemed to engulf me. I was walking through the square my hometown, Dungarvan.

Dungravan is a seaside town on the southeast coast of Ireland. It is one of the few towns in Ireland with a perfect square for its town centre. The buildings and businesses vary in height from single story to three stories. Shop fronts of bright yellow, royal blue, pinks, shades of orange and greens with their big windows all bright and shiny. The Square bustles with uniformed children chattering as they make their way to school. Mothers gripping toddlers and pushing prams, shopping baskets attached laden with messages. Shopkeepers pushing trolleys filled with vegetables outside their shop doors. People stop to chat about the state of the country or the weather. A typical morning in the square. Then there is Market Day. Market Day brings a more frenzied bustling tempo to the square

Market Day in Dungarvan is the first Thursday of every month. Farmers from all the surrounding boroughs’ bring their livestock and produce to sell. Farmers wives set up stalls to sell their home baked cakes and buns, their jams and chutneys. Hawkers set up stalls to sell their wares. The town is awash with the smells and sounds of the market. The first thing you notice on market day before you turn the corner into the square is the pungent smell mixed with the smell pipe tobacco and home baking. These smells announce Market Day. The square abounds with the sounds of pigs squealing, sheep baying and horses neighing. The low excited rumblings of farmers bartering fill the air. The clip-clapping of horse hooves on the cobblestones, as farmers peer into their mouths, check hooves and slap their hind ends. Male and female hawkers calling as you pass by, in an effort to interest you in their wares and brick a brack. The voices and sounds melding together creating a strangely melodic tune. The tune that buzzes in your head all day long, driving you crazy. Side stepping and zigzagging through the square trying to avoid the piles of dung spotted on the street as you rush to get to work on time.

My foot slips and I twist my ankle slightly. Disorientated for a moment I don’t know where I am. Shaking my head to get my bearings, I feel the sting and pain of the cold in my fingers again. With a sad twinge of nostalgia I realize I am not home in Dungarvan. I am thousands of miles away, walking to work on this freezing cold December morning. I smile because for a brief moment, I had been catapulted home. I experienced the smells, the sights, and the sounds of Market Day. All this because of a pile dung in the car park.


Barbara Scully said...

Wonderful Ann. Beautifully evocative. A lovely whimsical piece of writing!!! Loved it! Thanks for sharing. And Merry Christmas to all the family. I shall be hooking up with some of your family here tomorrow - as usual!

Catherine said...

I like this! Always interesting to see the view from afar of a place you know well, and I do get to Dungarvan most Thursdays for the Farmers' Market, but not sure about the livestock market, probably at the Mart in Shandon. You describe Dungarvan lovingly and on reflection there is a lot of colour in the buildings and the reflected light of these on the harbour with the boats. The lights strung along the causeway to Abbeyside are lovely at night, I was there on Saturday to bring teen daughter and pal to the cinema to see Avatar (no I didn't sit out the 2hrs 40 mins of it - would've lost the will to live after seeing the trailer!) and it was absolutely freezing - mooched around the shops in the centre - love Easons and Dunnes. Went to Lidl and Maccy Ds(McDonalds), and home before tea!
Happy New Year - Catherine.

Ann said...

Glad you enjoyed this Catherine. Way back in my youth the mart was held in the square. Until the EU rules started to take hold. Yes the lights shimmering in the bay are a beautiful site. Walking down by the sea wall as I head home in Abbeyside, the sight always warms my soul. Haven't been to see Avatar, like you would rather spend my time in the bookstore!