Wheeling towards Dunhill on Thursday evening last, the backdrop provided by the setting sun was simply glorious. It inspired one of those ‘good to be alive’ thoughts we probably all ought to experience a little more.
Beyond the rocky escarpments which line part of the approach to the village, our local star, its colours shifting from deep orange to magenta, dipped out of sight the other side of Butlerstown. The light was slowly fading from another beautiful day.
As the local hurling field emptied after a training session made easier to endure by the fresh May breeze, I emerged from my motor and ordered a pint o’plain in Harney’s, the local watering hole. By the way, before Gay Byrne gets on the blower, I had a designated driver on the night.
Quizzical types had gathered in the establishment to put the grey matter to good use in a table quiz organised by Julie Fox, who is raising funds for an ISPCA trek through Borneo this October.
A quick chat with Julie, sporting a green tee-shirt emblazoned with an orangutan, revealed that the trek, which runs from October 4th to 18th, will see the ISPCA team on the move for at least eight hours daily.
And did you know that Borneo is one of only two places on earth where one finds this charming jungle creature, Sumatra being the other? Now if I hear anyone saying “there was nothing in the Munster this week” after that nugget of natural world trivia, I’ll not be best pleased.
The purpose of the trek is to provide care for neglected and abused animals in Ireland, as well as supporting “the indigenous habitat and animals of North East Asia,” reads the ISPCA literature.
Looking through the trek’s itinerary, one particular day caught my eye. It reduced my four-kilometre cycle home on Monday evening with a two-litre bottle of milk in my backpack to the puny freewheel it truly constituted.
Day seven of the trek is titled ‘Summit Day’. Julie and her colleagues will arise from their slumber at 3.30am local time to begin a walk over the granite slabbed foothills of Mount Kinabalu before reaching its 4,101-metre-high summit at dawn.
While the team hopes to catch the sun rising over the canopy of the Sabhah Jungle, no-one will be breaking out the sun-block: it’s frequently freezing up there. The natural springs at the aptly named Poring will offer welcome respite after nine hours of walking and no doubt, it will be well deserved.
Cynicism is rife these days. Listen to most weekday talk radio shows and you’re likely to hear (a) a moaning presenter, (b) a moaning contributor or (c) worse still, a moaning presenter and a moaning contributor combined.
Trips such as the Borneo Trek are viewed by negativity-mongers as glorified holidays and nothing more.
And yes, the world could do without the carbon footprint left by such trips but I’m still inclined to give such ventures the benefit of the doubt.
Of course, charity trips offer the chance to see parts of the world some of us might not otherwise see, but it takes considerable time and work to get there in the first place.
Trekking up the side of a steep Asian mountain in near freezing conditions in a jungle before sunrise hardly equates to kicking it back on a lounger either.
What we ought to think about is that such trips are composed of individuals who want to do something good for the benefit of others – in this instance, neglected and endangered animals.
Julie and her friends are giving the gift of their time and energy to try and help some of our fellow earthly creatures and I for one commend them.
And it was her personal investment that brought people together in Harney’s last Thursday, its walls resplendent with images of Jackie Kennedy pictured during her visit to the area in 1966.
There was plenty of chat, plenty of laughter and top quality ham sandwiches on offer on the night, the latter catalysing thoughts about the prospects of a long hurling summer.
There was a decidedly fun feel to the whole night, so much more enjoyable than vegging out in front of the television.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, during which Julie was in grateful receipt of funds which will assist her trip to Borneo.
And while the team I was a member of was pipped to overall victory by four points, I did claim a spot prize win, taking home a box of shortbread with me. Not a bad night’s work at all.
And who knows, quizzical types in Harney’s last Thursday might have helped to save an orangutan or two in the process. And that can’t be a bad thing now, can it?