Well, it was inevitable, wasn't it? On Ken's first day in the saddle, it is absolutely 'chucking it down'. At 9.30am this morning, when today’s rain was perhaps at its heaviest, the Wild Atlantic Way welcomed Ken into its very own ‘wildness’. As well as my encouraging mumblings about how long the deluge might continue and platitudes about it always being darkest before the dawn – all from the driver’s seat in the warmth of Ken’s car – he did have Alex Gason, the Irish Director of Fields of Life, shivering beside him as they headed off from Kinsale along the first stretch of The Way.
Ken and Alex Gason [Irish Director of Fields of Life]
As they reached Ballinspittle, it was perhaps a little misguided to hope that some of the ‘spirit’ of 1985 might still be accessible. It was not and, arriving in Clonakilty just under two hours after they left Kinsale, both Ken and Alex were soaked through and very much in need of a change of clothes.
This took place in an accommodating local hotel and some time later we were joined for, and treated to, lunch by the local CoI minister, Kingsley Sutton, whose Wicklow family I knew well from my time with Interserve.
After lunch we all went to Clonakilty Community School where both Alex and Ken spoke to around 30-40 thirteen and fourteen year olds about the work of Fields of Life and the urgent need for more wells to be dug to provide fresh water for many countries in Africa and with specific reference to Uganda, where Ken had visited previously.
There was certainly lots of interest in the work of Fields of Life in general, but particularly in the role of the majority of young girls as water carriers until they reach their early teens when they marry and become mothers by their mid-teens.
They were enthusiastic about their two classes being given future information about the well that will be bored with the finance raised from Ken’s trip and, when the suggestion was made – by one of the school teachers present – that they might think about each one of them bringing one euro tomorrow to contribute to the fund, there was murmurs of agreement. They did seem quite taken with the idea of seeing, ‘down the road’, what their Euro had accomplished. It was a very useful and productive 90 minutes.
Rev Kingsley Sutton, Deirdre – one of the teachers at Clonakilty Community School, Ken and Alex Gason.
Alex was collected from the meeting by his wife and family and Ken was once again - and I can feel a Willie Nelson song coming on - 'on the road again', and being soaked for the third, or was it the fourth time today.
He had a further, much more pleasant, soaking in the shower at the deBarra Lodge in Rosscarbery where we’ll spend this evening before moving on tomorrow.