A gentleman if ever there was one, Dore man Sabba Curran wore an undisguised look of contentment seated comfortably in the captain’s quarters of ‘The Cricket’ gazing out beyond a sleepy sea to the quaint houses lining the crust of Gola Island.
Behind him, a lively group – young and old, locals and tourists – stood on the open deck breathing in deep draughts of fresh warm air under a clear, azure-blue summer sky (no, I’m not color blind, though with the torrential rain we’ve had since it’s hard to believe).
Though barely mid-afternoon, the Gola Ferry Service was already completing its fourth return trip from Maghergallon Pier, having started early Saturday before any of us had even finished our scrambled eggs and scones (okay, okay, maybe just me).
Meanwhile, the ‘island crew’ of Maureen Ferry, Sheila Gallagher, His Majesty, Eddie Joe Mac Aoidh, the Uncrowned Island King and family and friends, all members of the Gola Island Development Co-op, had finished their stuff.
A crowd of over a hundred was expected for the annual Gola Island Festival and things had all been put in order. Colorful buntings fluttered in the light breeze, the kettle was on the boil in the wee café (it really should have a name – any suggestions?) and assorted materials for an outdoor painting class were well in hand.
Even the day’s star guest, bearded philosopher, polyglot and sea-forager, Derry-man-cum-transplanted Bunbegian, Pól Ó Muireasáin, was ready and eager to rock ‘n roll. He’d powdered his nose, coiffured his hair and got his bits and bobs together, ready to lead a merry band of Marine Apostles, including Der Spiegel’s correspondent from Cologne and a photographer all the way from the Big Apple, on a hazardous two-hour, search-and find expedition for monsters of the deep among the sand and rocks of the coastal inlets.
And what a delightful day it turned out to be.
King Eddie had a good ole chin-wag with his distant cousin, James Sharkey, now plying his trade in far-off Aberdeen;
a smiling Marie Moloney-Pearson did her thing behind the café counter beside the island’s photo exhibition;
and boatman-cum-scriptwriter, Niall McCaffrey of TG4 ‘C. U. Burn’ fame, enjoyed a leisurely wander along winding paths (by the way, did you know his family name as Gaeilge is ‘MacEachmharcaigh,’ meaning basically, ‘son of a jockey’).
There was also George and Yvonne Adams, a lovely couple from Hollywood (not the Tinseltown variety), who’d first landed on the island 35 years ago to celebrate their engagement and now had returned for a heartwarming taste of nostalgia.
And to top it all off, there was the rare (the rarer the better) sighting of a shy and reserved Pól the Peacock perched on a stone wall stripping to his nifty boxer shorts singing a German ditty at the top of his voice having just splashed through hell and high water to ensure the life of a young and wayward lobster.
Yes, a most memorable day had by all.