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Clann Gathering Report 2002

This year's journey to the Clann reunion began on Thursday the 19th of September. In order to break up the trip I had decided to stay overnight with my brother Michael and his family. It may seem ludicrous to those cousins from the southern hemisphere who endured over twenty hours cramped in economy class and god knows how many time zone changes that I saw it necessary to break a total journey of two hours into more manageable one hour stints. The evening went well but at one point, in a moment of madness or forgetfulness, my sister in-law Sarah enquired what kind of activities would be taking place over the coming weekend. There was a collective intake of breath and murderous looks were thrown in her direction for having given me this opportunity to bore the pants of everyone.

Caitlin the baby of the family, who can only manage half a dozen words and is still mastering the art of walking, made a dash for freedom. Grabbing her feeding bottle and a spare diaper she said "Bye bye" and sped out of the room at something approaching world record pace for the fifty-metre sprint. The eldest child Liam had no escape route for I had been holding him in a big hug when his mother had posed the fateful question. Unable to escape my grip he promptly stuck his fingers in his ears and began to hum to himself. Michael and Sarah were of course bound by etiquette to feign interest in the subject and smiled as I began to relate the timetable of events. As I spoke my enthusiasm slowly took over and I lost the run of myself. When I had finished I noticed that both Michael and Sarah had that glazed far away look that sets in when you are in the middle of a meeting that is going nowhere slowly and has already taken up half of your precious one hour lunch break. Thinking I had rambled on for hours I glanced at my watch to find that I had only been speaking for two minutes. Crestfallen, my grip on Liam relaxed a little and he ran out of the room shouting: "Time for bed, I have playschool in the morning."

I know that a lot of us encounter this kind of reaction when we speak to friends and family about the Clann. It seems to require a significant event such as the loss of a loved one, the discovery of a family heirloom or a skeleton in the closet to spark an interest in the past. So, realising I had put my gracious hosts through enough mental cruelty I left the subject of the Gathering to one side and proceeded to enjoy a very pleasant evening. I awoke the following morning to clear blue skies and warm sunshine; the gods were smiling. As I set the car in motion towards Ferns I noticed that the smiles of those stood in the doorway were unusually brilliant, and that their waves of goodbye were particularly energetic.


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