On yer bike


TAKING A BREAK Edwin McGreal, his wife Aisling and their children Éamon and Frankie stopping for a break on a cycle around Dooega last week. Pic: Hironori Masuda

The Dad Diary

Edwin McGreal

The single best purchase I made ahead of lockdown was two child carriers for the bikes.
With so many outlets for Frankie (3) and Eámon (20 months) now closed off, keeping them occupied is one of the challenges of the new world we find ourselves in.
The weather has, thankfully, been very compliant, and so most days we hop on the bikes and go for a spin around our village of Dooega on Achill Island and maybe have a picnic along the way.
To say Frankie and Éamon love it would be underselling it. They are besotted with the bikes. The mere mention of the bikes cures virtually all ailments. It’s a great bargaining tool too with Frankie.
Somedays she might be iffy about her food, so we reach for the ace of hearts.
“Eat all your dinner and we will go on the bikes.”
She barely has time to say ‘okay’ so quick is she to tackle into the food in order to be on the bike as soon as possible.
Ask Éamon if he wants to go on the bikes and you’ll get a loud exclamation of ‘yeaaahhh!’, and any temper tantrum is soon forgotten.
So off we go, Frankie sitting behind me and Éamon behind Aisling. It’s lambing season in Dooega, so every field brings a bit of magic for the kids.
Frankie has given them all names. In every field there is a ‘Frankie Lamb’ and an ‘Éamon Lamb’, along with ‘Mammy Lamb’.
Sure enough she’ll pipe up and ask, ‘Where’s Daddy Lamb?’. She might be a bit too young for the whole conversation about Daddy Lamb not being a responsible father and leaving Mammy Lamb to rear the kids on her own, so I just tell her he’s gone for a walk. A long one, as it happens.
Anyone who knows Dooega will know it’s hilly, so every cycle involves a few climbs. Naturally enough the pace slows down going uphill, but Frankie isn’t having any of that.
‘Hurry up, Daddy, hurry up’, she’ll coerce from her seat. A career as either a personal trainer or an army commander beckons.
Everyone we pass gets a big ‘Hiya’ from Frankie before we get a chance to say anything ourselves, and she absolutely loves when we pick up speed going downhill or take a bumpy journey off-road.
‘Go really fast Daddy’, she will implore. A right little daredevil.
Éamon, by comparison, is much more placid, just looking intently at all creatures great and small with an odd yelp when he suddenly sees a ‘burd’ or a ‘baa’ (sheep).
The only problem is coming home. Frankie would happily stay on the back of the bike for hours… but it’s easy for her – she’s not the one pedalling uphill!

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.