Playground central

Nurturing

The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

When we were growing up in Breaffy, playgrounds were on the way out. Safety concerns led to them gradually being closed and we made our own fun.
Climbing trees, hiding in sleepers as the train went past on the Cottage Road with copper coins on the track and cycling in and out to Castlebar on the main road.
All things that would be considered very unsafe nowadays but, hey, close the playgrounds!
Kids these days don’t know how lucky they are – I sound about 80 writing that!
But the amount of playgrounds around the county is off the charts and is a credit to Mayo County Council.
Frankie and Éamon love nothing more than a trip to a playground and they’re spoilt for choice. Séimí is chomping at the bit too but playground trips often coincide with his nap so he’s not getting the full experience his elder siblings are.
There’s two playgrounds in Achill. One in Keel which is currently being renovated. The removal of the climbing frame there which both always went to first will not go down well when they return! There’s a second playground in Achill Sound which is really handy as it is just over the road from their grandparents.
A new one opened last year in Mulranny and for a small size playground, is really jam-packed with fun rides.
They love taking a spin to Ballycroy and Newport playgrounds while they know all the playgrounds around Castlebar and Breaffy too.
The playground in Tom Ruane Park in Ballina is one of the best we’ve experienced in Mayo while just over the border in Clonbur is a spectacular playground that’s well worth a visit if you’re in that neck of the woods. Last weekend they had a ball at a really cool playground in Clarinbridge when visiting their cousins.
The promise of a playground visit is a surefire trade-off for good behaviour – once the weather doesn’t intervene.
Anything with a zipline is an instant hit as is anything that involves climbing. Roundabouts – the faster, the better – always go down well and even though every playground has one, Frankie and Éamon can’t get enough of swings. Frankie has progressed to managing them without a push but Éamon still needs a bit of assistance.
Touchwood there has been no injuries of note at any playground let, although plenty of tears when one of them gets stuck trying to climb beyond their reach.
You’ve to gently wind it up too at the end. ‘Five more minutes’ etc. If you want an instant meltdown, take them out of a playground with no warning and you’ll be in the bad books for the rest of the day.
The big child in you is tempted to try somethings too but imagine the embarrassment if you broke a zipline? It would be like something I’d do so I stick to observing.
Listening to the laughing and shrieks of excitement is entertainment enough.

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