Within the next hour I’ll be getting into the car and driving with my son Matt and his wife Tiffany to Greencastle,Co Tyrone. There, despite the highest medical opinion and bog-standard common-sense, I’ll attempt to run five miles. It’s an annual event that attracts hundreds of runners and while the race itself is invigorating (assuming you survive the hill at four miles), it’s the sense of a community working together that I like.
I don’t know how much help Greencastle has had from the powers that be in the Sports Council back in Belfast, but I suspect not a lot. Too far away, too, how shall we say it, too damn republican an area really to be deserving of the kind of backing something like the Cathedral Quarter or the Titanic Quarter gets. Which is all the more credit to those who have done the work, created the race, found sponsors, found parking, found post-run grub, found…Well, found an atmosphere of warmth and hospitality and openness that you’ll find hard to beat. They’ve been doing it for over twenty-five years now, and it’s become a hugely popular way for people to get some icy breezes to blow away the cobwebs on the day after the day of indulgence.
I always enjoy the St Stephen’s Day run at Greencastle. I enjoy even more the spirit of these people, who know how to create something out of very little, who know how to carry the burden themselves when officialdom can’t be bothered to give them a leg up.
It’s Stephen’s Day. It’s Greencastle. It’s good.