Lovely Leitrim – a mecca for lake-lovers.

Ireland is known for its greenness, and its rain, but there is also a lot of blue! As I near the end of my stay in “lovely Leitrim”, and being blessed with a sunny Sunday morning, my daily walk took me around one of the many nearby lakes.

The rural town of Ballinamore has 28 lakes within 5 miles, as well as the Erne-Shannon canal running past the end of its main street. All this access to water makes it an anglers’ paradise, so it has hosted several of the All Ireland Coarse Angling championships. As I began my walk around Lough Garadice, superlatives filled my head but none would do it justice.

Fishermen set up along the nearest shore for the day’s sport as I passed. My little terrier, a lover of fish, pottered along their ranks in the hope someone might share bait or catch with her. The tranquillity of the waters, the stunning scenery and a warmth of sunlight chasing the early frosts,  all added up to a magical scene. A perfect antidote to the week’s pressures.

Having explored a section of the lake’s shores, and exhausted an elderly dog, I paused as I headed for home. A tiny church perched on a slope by the lake, surrounded by a tiny graveyard. What a perfect setting for a final resting place.

As I was about to leave this idyllic scene, the caretaker (I presume) arrived on his tiny tractor and passed the time of day in a friendly manner on his way into the church. Families have buried their loved ones here for centuries, but what a peaceful place to lay them!

Driving back, I reflected on the all-pervading sense of community in rural Ireland, North and South. To me, nothing shows this better in an area than the support for their local Gaelic football team. This is widely evidenced by the proliferation of little flags in the team colours pinned to any convenient post in their area. In addition to these many have home-made signs at nearby junctions or either end of the town, cheering their heroes to victory.

In my recent travels, I’ve passed many of these but none brought a smile as much as the tiny, nearby town of Aughawillan. Even as a passerby you have to hope they win when you see such evident enthusiasm – this team will long be in my memories when I am far from Leitrim. “Up the Willies!”

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