CHRISTMAS SWIM 2013

Emy Lake, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Emy Lake, Emyvale, Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

A visit to Emy Lake near Emyvale in County Monaghan a year ago provided me with one of the first stories for my daily blog, which I began on January 1st 2013, as well as providing a beautiful photo for the cover page. A nice 4km walk has been developed alongside the lake and the path has been improved so that it is accessible for buggies. Great work done by a dedicated committee of volunteers.

Christmas Day dip at Emy Lake  Photo: ©  Michael Fisher

Christmas Day 2013 dip at Emy Lake Photo: © Michael Fisher

This is what I wrote last year:  EMY LOUGH SWIM: Congratulations to all who took part in the annual Emy Lough Christmas dip for charity near Emyvale in County Monaghan. Organised by the friends and parents of people with intellectual disability. I spotted Paul Bowe father of the rugby international Tommy who is recovering from injury and also Sammy Leslie from Castle Leslie in nearby Glaslough among the participants. My car temperature said 8C but I’m sure the water was considerably colder, even though the sun shone and it was the mildest such day for the dip in many years.

3-2-1- and they're off for the Emy Lake dip  Photo: © Michael Fisher

3-2-1- and they’re off for the Emy Lake dip Photo: © Michael Fisher

After the wind and snow yesterday morning on Christmas Eve (Tuesday), the weather in 2013 was almost better than last year with a good deal of sunshine. This time Tommy Bowe was able to take a dip along with his younger brother David and sister Hannah and their father Paul. Sammy Leslie from nearby Castle Leslie in Glaslough was back again wearing a red Santa top!

Tommy Bowe after his Christmas dip in Emy Lake  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Tommy Bowe after his Christmas dip in Emy Lake Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mark Leslie was also there, easy to spot with a Japanese bandana. He was one of two hardy swimmers who swam out as far as a small island in the lake and returned safely to shore, with two volunteers on standby in a rowing boat in case anyone got into difficulty.

Mark Leslie finishes his Christmas Day swim at Emy Lake  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mark Leslie finishes his Christmas Day swim at Emy Lake Photo: © Michael Fisher

The Leslie family have been good supporters of this event which began 41 years ago under the stewardship of scout leader the late Benny McKenna and subsequently the late Garda Sergeant Dan Rogan. Similarly the Bowe family from Inishdevlin.

Mission successful! Samantha Leslie at Emy Lake  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mission successful! Samantha Leslie at Emy Lake Photo: © Michael Fisher

Among the supporters there this afternoon for the dip at 1pm was the actress Orla Brady who was staying at Castle Leslie. She is appearing in tonight’s special Christmas episode on BBC1 of Dr Who, in the role of Tasha Lem, a friend of the time traveller.

Orla Brady in Christmas spirit at Emy Lake  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Orla Brady in Christmas spirit at Emy Lake Photo: © Michael Fisher

Last year I came without any cash so this year I made sure I gave two donations and my daughter who was with me also contributed to this worthy cause. It was a pleasant half hour in very tranquil surroundings and a nice way to spend part of Christmas Day. For more details of the event see www.emyvale.net.

Emy Lake, Emyvale Co. Monaghan  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Emy Lake, Emyvale Co. Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

Just to prove I was there: Cameraman Gregory Murphy got a new profile picture of me as I was being interviewed at the lakeside by Peadar McMahon. I had to admit to him it wasn’t as he suggested the Fermanagh colours draped around my neck, but possibly an Ireland emblem (for Tommy Bowe no doubt); then I revealed it was in fact my Shamrock Rovers FC scarf! I added my congratulations to all those hardy people who had decided to take the plunge to support the great work of the Monaghan group, who included some Special Olympics athletes. Well done!

Michael Fisher at the Christmas dip at Emy Lake, Emyvale  Photo: © Gregory Murphy

Michael Fisher at the Christmas dip at Emy Lake, Emyvale Photo: © Gregory Murphy

CHRISTMAS SONGS

St Salvator's Glaslough Baptismal Font  Photo: © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Glaslough Baptismal Font Photo: © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Church of Ireland church beside Castle Leslie in Glaslough, County Monaghan, was the wonderful setting for ‘A Winter’s Tale’ performed on Monday night (23rd December) by Donagh Community Choir under the musical direction of Eithne McCord from Aughnacloy. The church built by Bishop John Leslie in 1763 and improved in 1890-96 became famous when it was the setting in June 2002 for the marriage (since dissolved) of the former Beatle Paul McCartney and Linda Mills.

Organist Glenn Moore  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Organist Glenn Moore Photo: © Michael Fisher

The organist was beautifully played by Glenn Moore, Director of Music at St Macartin’s Cathedral in Enniskillen. Glenn is a native of Kesh and has been playing the organ and leading the choir at Ardess Parish Church, his home parish, for over 18 years. He has played the organ for various services and has given recitals at numerous churches throughout the Diocese of Clogher and beyond. He has been organist for special services that have taken place in Clogher Cathedral. Whilst a pupil at Portora in Enniskillen he was taught the organ by former Cathedral Organist, Billy McBride.

Harpist Liz McGuinness  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Harpist Liz McGuinness Photo: © Michael Fisher

I was delighted to see that the harpist accompanying the organ so well for some of the songs was Liz McGuinness from Milltown, Monaghan who reminded me that she had organised arts events at the Castle many years ago, with David Norris among the guests. Liz was at the opening of the Garage theatre earlier this month. In September I met her at Connolly station in Dublin when she was one of the invited guests and interviewees during the RTÉ Big Music Week. We took the train to Newbridge and then Carlow, serenaded en route by the Bugle Babes who have been singing during the past week for Christmas shoppers at the Brown Thomas store in Grafton Street, Dublin.

Precentor Noel Regan  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Precentor Noel Regan Photo: © Michael Fisher

One of the guests at the service introduced by the Reverend Betty Thompson was the Precentor of St Macartan’s Cathedral in Clogher, Canon Noel Regan. A native of Sligo, he has become a member and good supporter of the William Carleton Society and summer school. In October he preached at the harvest service at Errigal Truagh church, where Eithne McCord and the Donagh choir performed along with Blackwater Voice in a carol service three Sundays ago.

Service at St Salvator's Glaslough  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Service at St Salvator’s Glaslough Photo: © Michael Fisher

Samantha Leslie read a Christmas poem ‘It started with a Baby’. Afterwards she opened the Castle to guests who were treated to mulled wine and mince pies. The conservatory and surrounding area had been beautifully lit and the Christmas lights also looked well. Donagh Community Choir received a grant from the reconciliation fund of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I think the late Brian Earls, a Carletonian and a former diplomat who died in July, would have been very pleased to hear that. A few years ago after the William Carleton summer school I brought him to St Salvator’s church and Diane who happened to be there at the time kindly showed us inside. That was the only other occasion I have been in this church with which the Leslie family has been associated for 250 years.

St Salvator's Glaslough  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

St Salvator’s Glaslough Photo: © Michael Fisher