05 Jul 2022

Gerry Moran: The long drive to freedom!

Kilkenny People

"To break out of lockdown, I am going to hop in my car and drive the length and breadth of the county"

You can travel anywhere in your own county. Phase Two, Lifting Lockdown.

Ah, freedom at last. Almost. Nearly. Just about. Freedom from lockdown. To a degree. And guess what yours truly is going to do with this ‘new-found’ freedom of sorts? I am going for a drive.

A long drive up and down Kilkenny. County that is. I am going to hop in my car and drive the length and breadth of the county. To break out of lockdown, of course, and to give the car a bit of a run; it’s been lying idle outside the door for the past three months, so idle in fact that I reckon it’s entitled to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Which it will gladly accept in Diesel Denominations!


I am going to revisit small villages and towns that I haven’t been in, in donkey’s years (indeed the donkey may still be the main mode of transport in some of them!)

Needless to say I shall be travelling alone. The wife, as much as she could do with a run too, will be only too delighted to get rid of me. Cooped up with anyone – man, woman or beast – for three months on the trot is not conducive to peace and harmony. Especially if, like me, you don’t plant. Or paint. Or fix things. All I seem to be good at is getting under my good wife’s feet and making a nuisance of myself. Which I could do with panache before lockdown!

Yeah, I envied all you DIY guys during lockdown, you guys who could hide out in garden sheds, in garages, on rooftops even – hammering and sawing and slapping on paint.

Unlike the likes of us DDIY (Don’t Do It Yourself) guys who had to face non-stop, up-close, proximity to spouses, partners, children and pets. No escape for us. We were to be pitied. But pity was in short supply in lockdown. And still is!

So, a drive around Kilkenny is vital – for the health of the car. For the health of my marriage. My family. And my cats. And so, some morning soon, bright and early (11am say, Covid-19 early you understand) I’ll grab a large flask of tea and plunder the West Wing of the house. The West Wing being the west wing of the fridge – you know that section where you stashed the John West tins of tuna and salmon and sardines when lockdown started up and we thought the world would close down and that we’d never see a toilet roll or sliced pan again.

Anyway – I’m going to make myself some sardine sandwiches (the sardines aren’t out of date till 2022 but I need to shift some) By the way – ever had a sardine sandwich? Me neither. But there’s a first time for everything – even a long drive around Kilkenny county.

I wouldn’t, of course, care to unwittingly, and illegally, drive across a border into a neighbouring county.


And here’s a wee question while I’m on the topic of borders – how many counties border Kilkenny? And name them. Not a six marker by any means but tricky enough.

Of course I’d know immediately if I crossed over into Tipp. I’d smell the venom! That’s right – venom. That age-old, ferociously competitive hurling venom which, of course, the ‘Stone Throwers’ would feel in spades should they slip over the border into Top Cat Territory (i.e. Kilkenny with 36 All Ireland titles vis-à-vis Tipp’s 28 - and never let them forget it)

Should I wander into Laois I guess I’d get the whiff of turf as in the Bog of Allen which spreads, believe it or not, across nine different counties (and try naming those) 250,000 hectares of the Bog of Allen is sunder conservation and constitutes 50% of Europe’s total peatland area (This Covid-19 is also a learning curve – at least for me).

I’d most certainly get the smell of scallions if I slipped into Carlow, home of the scallion-eaters and home of my father. As for Wexford, I might perhaps get the smell of vinegar, as in Vinegar Hill, site of the famous battle of 1798 whose 222nd anniversary occurs on this upcoming June 21.

No doubting what I’d smell in Waterford – the salt sea air of Costa del Tramore! And the salt and vinegar whiff of Dooly’s fish and chips - an aroma that would lure any Kilkenny man, or woman, across the border.

With that in mind, forget the flask of tea and sardine sandwiches, think I’ll break for the border - the Waterford one - and take my chances!

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