The goodness in people


The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

Sometimes human beings infuriate you. Other times, your faith in humanity is restored.
A cycle to Mulranny last week with Éamon on the back of the bike saw three different people show their inherent goodness.
We cycled there along the Greenway and stopped for a bite to eat before Mother Nature took over, opened the Heavens and grounded us in Mulranny.
While it was still dry and we were eating on the prom – a splendid addition to the village – our first hero stepped forward.
I was trying (failing) to cut an apple for Éamon with a plastic knife when a woman sitting nearby came over with a proper knife and wipes (‘on account of the Covid’). A lovely little piece of help.
But as we were preparing to go, the rain started. We found shelter in Doherty’s pub’s beer garden. Normally this would be a very convenient delay, but with a two-year-old in tow, it could become more fraught.
But with the skies darkening, we decided to order some food. Éamon loved sitting back and watching the world go by, particularly camper vans, trucks and buses that were going up and down the main road in front of us.
A lovely waitress was beyond nice to him, which made him feel right at home, and it was a lovely little pitstop. But what about those clouds?
The rain stopped for a few minutes, so I said we would take a chance and go. We went up to pay, and the waitress gave Éamon a purple Snack bar. He was made up.
I had him strapped into the bike and just ready to go when it started raining again. Unstrapping him from the bike is not a quick process, so I quickly had to evaluate the best course of action.
And, trust me, the best course of action isn’t always the one you pick.
So, I decide to cycle away and look for shelter. A damn camper van was parked under trees where there would have been good shelter, but I found cover under the canopy of the old Campbell’s pub.
I waited for five minutes, hoping things will clear, before I accepted the reality that the skies were too dark for any proper break in the weather. I didn’t mind getting wet cycling home, but I didn’t want Éamon to be sick for the week from it.
What to do? The mind raced. Who might come and pick us up? Are there any bike shuttles that might be able to bring us to Achill?
Next thing the driver of the camper van hopped out.
“Are you going to Achill?” he asks.
I’m really not in the mood for giving tourists directions. I nod in the affirmative, waiting for questions about how to get to Keem Bay or one of the other beauty spots.
“We’re heading that way, we’ll give ye a lift,” he says, as he turns into a knight in shining armour. Or, to be more precise, a Superdry jacket.
We Irish are generous like this, but with Covid, I wasn’t even dreaming of such an offer being forthcoming.
No, he insisted, it’s a big campervan, we’ll open the windows and mask up, because those clouds aren’t going anywhere.
So off we went, and Éamon was even happier than me, getting his first spin in a camper.
A simple act of kindness kept us dry and in good spirits, and reminded me to keep the faith.

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