‘There’s a light beyond these woods, Mary Margaret.
Do you think that we will go there,
And see what makes it shine, Mary Margaret?
The lines of the hauntingly lovely song by Nancy Griffith occurred to me last week when talking to an American who had flown to Ireland and travelled to Castleisland to gaze on the new athletic track surface at An Riocht.
I thought of the lines – in reverse – I suppose. In that the light is here and people are coming to see what makes it shine.
List of Attractions
There is little doubt but that the laying of the new two-tone surface has put the athletics track right on top of the list of attractions in Castleisland at present.
That may not be a big list in our little market town culture and mindset but it certainly is a welcome re-addition.
In fact, its light went well beyond these woods as photographs of the near complete, photogenic surface began to appear on social media on the eve of last weekend’s Denny / Kerry Community Games Finals.
Shona Heaslip – An Ambassador
International athlete and An Ríocht AC member, Shona Heaslip was, phone in hand, filling an ambassadorial and patriotic role while taking part in the European Athletics Team Championships in the Lille Metropole Stadium in France at the weekend. And they have only a monotone, blue track there.
She was ‘showing-off’ the home track to her international team-mates and their reactions, apart from the oooohs, the aaaahs and the wows, were mainly like, ‘when can we run there’ and ‘I can’t wait to try it out’ and several other complimentary utterances.
Minister Fast out of Traps
The transformation couldn’t have but impressed Kerry’s newly appointed Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin, TD as he, fast out of the traps, visited the games finals on Saturday in the company of his party colleague, Cllr. Bobby O’Connell.
Wonderful and all as it appeared and tidy and all as it happened, it was finished just on time for the games. The vagaries of South West of Ireland’s weather did nothing to advance the project.
In fact, the weather held up progress at every hand’s turn as the Denny/Kerry Community Games Finals were nearly in the tunnel and limbering up for their laps of honour.
It relented on enough occasions for the job to go from line to tape in just under the allotted time.
The opening ceremony and lighting of the flame of the 2017 Kerry Community Games Track and Field Athletics Finals were performed at 10am on Saturday morning in a thick enough mist – but things got much better from there on.
Piper Gary Stephenson led the flag bearers and the competitors in an anti-clockwise, semi circle of the track.
Lap of the Track
All 41 competing teams gathered on the grass for the Tarbert athlete, Sasha Brent’s lap of the track and lighting of the games flame just before the 10am scheduled off time.
From then on the sun shone its approval on everything under it and it seemed to apologise for the stress it caused the people at An Riocht and the Kerry Community Games Committee for its late appearance in the overall scheme of preparations.
International Meeting on Track ?
So, with all this near world wide focus on the light beyond all their woods, can we expect to see a high profile athletics meeting here in the not too distant future?
My thanks to Keel/Kiltallagh Community Games group for the photograph of the group with ‘their’ Minister Griffin – the photograph was taken by Cllr. Bobby O’Connell.
If you’d like to hear the Nancy Griffith song please do click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YZ3yvXpMOw
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