Three car loads of us went to a festival in Tipperary we were camping.
Fifteen bodies, fifteen sleeping bags and three or four tents, gear to wear, gear to cook with and of course the sausages and bacon etc., for breakfasts! My friend and work mate, came from Tipperary, it was she who suggested the whole thing, read: It was her fault! She knew a good place for us to pitch the tents. I had been to stay in her home a couple of times, so I led the small convoy of three overflowing cars all the way from Dublin to Tipperary on a Friday evening in early summer.
We had to call at my friend’s house for directions to this ‘free camping site’! Tommy the man of the house, opened the door to me and of course I had to go in. His daughter, my friend, was up stairs so he gave her a shout. We went into ‘The room’ for a chat while we waited for my friend to appear. Ten minutes later she sauntered down to join us and her first question was “Where are the rest of the gang?”
Tommy insisted that the gang be brought in for a cup of tea. Do you think he wanted to suss us out? There was no saying “No!”. The others were parched and hungry by this stage. Betty, the lady of the house – who had a touch of my mother – she was used to feeding the hoards that descended without notice, came up trumps. Food appeared, we were fed and watered, quizzed, and stories were told. Eventually Tommy looked out a window and saw rain on the glass.
That was it. No way was Grannymar (well it was long before I became Grannymar) going out to sleep in a tent. I argued that I had a sleeping bag and a tent, so there would be no problem.
The only way I would sleep in a tent that night, was over Tommy’s dead body. He had an answer. Everyone was dispatched to the cars to get the sleeping bags and bring them indoors. Fourteen bodies slept in sleeping bags on every floor space while I was given a bed!
In the morning after a cooked breakfast for all (God bless Betty!), Tommy drove his two eldest daughters with a convoy of campers to a disused quarry and insisted he help set up camp. Happy that all was secure he went home, leaving us to our own plans for the duration.
We headed off on foot to find the festival, the singing, the dancing and a drink or three. It was into the early hours of the morning when we rolled home to the comfort of our sleeping bags. With only the odd sheep for neighbours, we sang ourselves to sleep.
Up with the birds on Sunday Morning, we set about cooking breakfast, Tommy and Betty arrived to see how we had survived the night.
Our visitors were handed plates to join us for our feast. You know, given half a chance, I think the pair might have joined us for the whole weekend of fun if we had thought to ask. We shared our stories of the day and evening before, and how we planned to fill our Sunday before packing up and heading back to Dublin.
The friendship didn’t end there. Tommy’s family and mine became entwined a few years later. His two eldest daughter’s married two of my brothers, so now we are one big happy family and the girls are my sisters in law.