At this time of year, there are some time-honoured nuggets that the human condition is happily braced for.

The return of the dawn chorus is one, and what a welcome lilt it added to the weekend air.

The collapse of an Italian government is another, albeit not confined to any particular season as any student of politics will tell you.

The resumption of inter-county GAA action offers another welcome return of something that thousands of people across Waterford eagerly anticipate.

And, if your fancy is tickled by the cries of “oh no he’s not” and “oh yes he is”, then Portlaw’s annual pantomime ticks another of those well-loved seasonal boxes.

And this year’s production, ‘Mother Goose’, which concluded on Sunday afternoon, more than fulfilled all the requirements that pantomime demands of its participants.

It was towards the end of a night shift at the Tannery in October 1980 that a suggestion to combine the ‘Tops of the Streets’ forces into a local pantomime was first ruminated.

Since then, from within the town’s streets, environs and even beyond the horizon’s lip, hundreds of men, women and children have ensured that Portlaw Musical Society’s heart beats as strongly as ever.

It continues to bring the community together in a way that no other voluntary body does, and it’s a credit to all involved, from set designers to raffle ticket sellers, that it remains so vibrant.

Take panto first-timer Darren Foran’s involvement for example. Aged 12, Darren bravely opted to don the feathers and beak in taking on the role of Gertie the Goose.

Like countless other families in the area, Darren’s clan have deep roots within the Musical Society.

His grandfather Maurice gave great service as Society Chairman, while Darren’s father, ex-Waterford senior hurler Daithi, played a dwarf in 1989’s ‘Snow White’.

In fact, a list of all past and present Societeers who could trace similar lineage would force the publication of a special supplement this week!

Some 91 different people appeared on stage at the Premier Hall last week, which is quite a remarkable statistic when one considers the size of the Tannery Town.

Throw in the 39 other credited persons listed in the show’s well-assembled programme and that brings those in ‘active service’ to 130.

Multiply that figure by 28 and it gives one some idea of the man, woman and child power that’s kept the panto ball rolling so well in Portlaw for almost a generation.

Standing at the back of the theatre during last Friday’s interval, observing the many happy faces in the packed auditorium, it was difficult to avoid the sentiment that Portlaw Musical Society remains in rude health.

And in a town that’s experienced its fair share of disappointment over the guts of three decades, that can only be a good thing.

“We have performed a wide variety of pantomimes over the years and a lot of people have had many hours of enjoyment in our ranks,” reads a note included in the programme.

“It is a great credit to the first committee, some of whom are still involved, that 27 years on we are still going strong and (have) never missed a season.”

And so say all of us.