I’ve never been at a Thanksgiving celebration. I remember thinking as a small child that I thought it was the best idea ever for a celebration; to give thanks! And tomorrow, by the magic power of zoom, I will be having my first Thanksgiving get-together! I have so very much to give thanks for this year though so many are ill; every good wish for a speedy recovery to those many people who are suffering loss or those who are laid low by Covid19 at the moment or still suffering its aftereffects. Well its effects are everywhere of course and those who have not caught the disease are affected often in devastating ways with separation from family, loss of income and all the other effects we are all trying to get through.

I am really looking forward to connecting with my relations; my earliest memories of true excitement was the journey to spend holidays in Fermoy, where my mother grew up. There was a pattern. My Granny would have a hot meal ready and we would invariably be late. After numerous instances, the decision was made to have a salad tea so that we could eat it at any hour! I am so grateful for so much time in the country growing up. I loved all the action of living on a farm; the enormous sow would eat all the leftovers after dinner, she had a lovely stone house filled with straw and bonhams. Hens galore. And horses everywhere in neighbouring Castlehyde stud, gleaming or blanketed, as glossy as could be, standing under majestic elms and oaks in huge fields like the “40 acres”. The trees were are playhouse and on a very wet day we would be bone dry playing underneath. It was around the time my grandmother died that Elm disease was so apparent where huge grey skeletons stood in midsummer all over the countryside. It made me want to restore what I could and here I am launching into the world’s biggest ever restoration project. My father always said what a blessing it was to have country relations. He had a similar good fortune to mine and was sent from the Rathmines Road to Drumraney in Longford where relations looked after him all summer every summer. His bed he said was the most comfortable one you could imagine, a settle bed pulled out beside the fire and made up each night. His shoes were taken off him at the start of the summer and he went barefoot with all the other children until he was going back to Dublin for the autumn. Now I find I am a country “girl” again for the lockdown, here in the wee county. The changing seasons are such a joy. And with broadband it feels very much the same as living in town must be just now. We have family here jollying everything along, my dear sister-in-law dragged me out last night for a walk in the dark when I had spent the entire day at my desk writing our new Action Plan, updated from our Bank of America document which has served us for the first 2 years – and still does.