Water Under The Bridge

My husband and I decided to sell our house in Dublin and move lock, stock and barrel
to rural Ireland. We moved into a rundown cottage in Doonass in Co.Clare in the eighties.
Renovations were ongoing which we found difficult at times.
As Autumn approached we finally got the chance to explore our local area. We found
the most stunning views of the majestic river Shannon weaving her way through fields and
rustic woodlands. We walked across a charming wooden footbridge from Clonlara and found
the delightfully picturesque village of Castleconnell. We were enchanted by the loveliness of
the place and in that moment we truly felt we had come to the right place.
We subsequently settled into life in Doonass. Our children arrived and were endlessly
taken to the river to feed the ducks and watch nature evolving through the seasons. On
summer days, cattle lazily chewed the cud and drank from the river as insects swarmed and
birds sang their hearts out. The smell of new mown hay occasionally wafted through the air
as we walked along.
The kids swam with their pals in the river by the bridge. Squeals of laughter could be
heard as they played and messed about while we Mammy’s watched from the bridge. I was
often mesmerized by the sun hitting the water with its sheer diamond clarity.
I’d drop the kids to school and take my morning constitutional with Duke our red
setter who loved a revitalising swim in the river. He regularly sprayed me all over as he
happily dried himself off. Sometimes I’d see purple, red and yellow kayaks negotiating the
rapids as I walked along.
By the late nineties the footbridge had fallen into a state of disrepair and a meeting
was held in the Castle Oaks Hotel about funding and ongoing issues between Clare and
Limerick County Council. I recall my neighbours and myself taking part in a “Save Our
Bridge” rally where the local newspaper interviewed and highlighted the issues involved.
Ultimately our bridge was repaired and we continued to enjoy our special place. I have
walked here thousands of times and yet I never tire of watching a heron proudly alight from
her perch on the river or a swan nesting and later seeing her glide gracefully by with her
babies in tow.
I recall winters, where the raging flood waters battered against the underbelly of the
bridge. We walked hunched together against the icy breeze when we spotted an otter foraging
for food amidst the jagged rocks. Despite torrential wind and rain nature never fails to
surprise us.
Some thirty years on, our kids have flown the nest and we now take the grandkids to
feed the ducks and visit the playground where they have endless fun. Our trip is not complete
without a visit to the fairy woods where Mia leaves a letter in the pink fairy post box. Then
it’s on to the Castle Oaks Hotel for a hot chocolate with marshmallows on top.
We are currently in the midst of the Covid 19 pandemic. Despite cocooning, Larry
and I rarely miss a day walking to our beloved river across the footbridge to our sanctuary
which continues to sustain us during this trying time. We gaze into the river with her
beguiling sound and it never fails to soothe our spirits. Despite mankind’s thoughtlessness,
nature is never spent and the river Shannon and surrounding nature trails at Doonass
continues to be a source of unrivalled joy in our lives.