Most of us keep a running diary. I keep two, both very simple. Buckeye Outdoors is a site where you can, if you are so inclined, record just about everything about yourself and a lot more besides. I content myself with popping in my daily distance and time. Though I am also in intermittent message contact with a housewife from Fort Lauderdale!

I also maintain a simple pocket diary where I total my miles by week and year. I’m also now keeping track of miles run in my current shoes. I don’t go into further detail, with one exception. If I have a bad run – I mean a shocker where my body refuses to go anywhere, I draw an unsmiley face. Last week I had three unsmiley faces in a row. This is bad and, as I have written before, without any explanation that I can decipher. However a steady 13.7 miles on Sunday was a relief and enabled me to draw a rare smiley instead, and this was followed with a comfortable 6.6 miler earlier today.

But all in all I’ve decided I’m not in good shape to turn up at Blarney this weekend, though I received my race number (154) today. Even if I were to run comfortably I’ve done very little by way of tempo or speedwork in the last few months. I don’t really want to be struggling in beyond the two-hour mark when I know I am capable of much better.

Yesterday I revisited Prospect (Glasnevin) Cemetery where many of Ireland’s revolutionaries, writers and assorted notables are buried, along with the general hoi polloi. It is a vast place and I would have done well to purchase a guide. However I do enjoy just wandering in cemeteries (weird) so that’s what I did. At the main entrance you are confronted by the O’Connell monument, a tribute to The Liberator, Daniel O’Connell. This is the cemetery’s set piece and around it are set the tombs of many important people. You nearly trip over that of Roger Casement, one of Ireland’s many martyrs for freedom. He is further immortalised in song in Lonely Banna Strand. A couple of years ago I was driving near to Banna in North Kerry and decided to detour down to the famed Strand. Instead I spent an interesting half-hour watching efforts to clear an articulated lorry which had ended up across the narrow road having made an unwise attempt to turn around using the grass verges. After the tractor had snapped the second tow rope I decided I had to leave Banna Strand for another day.

Hopes of a peaceful wander through Glasnevin were rather thwarted, as they had been on my previous visit, by building and digging activity, vehicles etc. Well-meaning efforts are being made to restore many of the older headstones, and there is arising what might be a Visitors’ Centre. The contractors seem to me to have a job for the forseeable future. The peace of the place is being jarred in the meantime, not least by the self-satisfied blue and white ‘Monument Restored’ signs hung around hundreds of headstones. Why the heck must they do that?

In strategic positions around the perimeter walls are sited watchtowers. These were erected to thwart body-snatchers who would sell on their grisly goods to medical schools. With extreme black humour, within a very few years of their completion the Great Famine was upon Ireland rendering the body-snatching profession redundant for ever.

Unutterably sad is the lawned garden under which they say some fifty thousand babies are buried – those stillborn, very young or abandoned or unidentified. This spot is a social comment on the appalling conditions prevalent in Dublin City in the 19th century and the unregulated breeding in Catholic Ireland at that time which produced a population incapable of feeding itself during the Famine years, never mind the ignorance and neglect of those in London that could have acted to alleviate the position. Indeed one of my morbid fascinations in reading old gravestones is the frequency of children pre-deceasing their parents. Death is sad though so much sadder when one’s child goes.

In more modern times the practice has arisen of popping a photo of the deceased on a headstone. I’m not sure if I approve. Over in the newer, western section are interesting parts such as one devoted to members of Dublin’s Italian community.

So hopefully I’ll return to Glasnevin one day when the builders have departed.

Advertisements