June, the month of the roses, is a real treat for rural dwellers. Flowers are in bloom, fruit buds appear, and there is a colourful array of foliage everywhere. When we were growing up, only the very young or seniors who were ill, were to be found indoors during daylight hours in June.
Warm weather made outdoor life pleasant and invigorating for everyone. Many country folk swam in lakes and rivers around this time. Health and safety issues were unknown and we children could remain at large as long as we wished. We only returned to base when hunger and thirst beckoned or when it was bed time.
The Mannions next door had a rowing boat and frequently took us and our companions on trips to Loughnahinch Lake. They even had a small boathouse at the edge of the lake where their boat was anchored. Local ‘pirates’ sometimes took possession of the boat when the owners weren’t around but it was always returned to its resting place before the Mannions came back.
It was a real treat to pay a visit to the small islet at the centre of the lake and to observe the family of swans that made their home there. Swan numbers never seemed to vary – just two adults and thee cygnets.
The Mannions knew all about the Sunday afternoon dances that used to take place on the islet several decades earlier. In fact, the floor that patrons did their steps on, became Mannion’s ceiling at a later date.
The dances were organised by Gurteen curate, Fr. Patrick O’Loughlin. The outings drew large crowds initially but of course the unpredictable Irish weather led to their being abandoned eventually.