A few nights ago I had the privilege of listing to the inimitable Dick Warner chat about his love for the Royal Canal. I felt honoured to have been invited in the first place… me? The rookie canal walker? Why would you want me there? Simple, said MF… you‘ll get to meet some of the IWAI Dublin branch members, you‘ll get to listen to an authority and a Irish legend. True.
A short stroll along the Grand Canal to the venue and just for a change I arrived first. “Where do you think you’re going?” Asked the publican when I wanted to climb the set of stairs to what I supposed would be the first floor meeting place. There’s no one there… well, within minutes a tall, rather distinguished looking fellow arrived and the publican turned his attention to his new, more familiar guest. They disappeared up the very same stairs I had attempted to ascend only minutes before.
There I stood at the bar… like a lost bit of expelled air in the proverbial thunderstorm. Worst of all… the disappeared publican had left me empty-handed and thirsty. Drat, it was past seven and here I stood in one of Dublin’s landmarks… unattended and parched. The matter was soon rectified. The newly returned host happily informed me that I could rise to a higher elevation… the room upstairs was now in operation. I followed his advice, only after arming myself with a much desired pint of the black stuff.
Soon the folk started arriving. The first person I recognised was number 4 up the stairs. MF, one of the organisers made his entrance, soon to be followed by other members of the Dublin Branch, MK, JC, of Rambler fame… the stars were gathering for what appeared a fine red carpet showing of waterway’s elite.
The numbers swelled… I recognised a lady’s face. Ruth Delaney, a waterways expert and author of note. The J&BT arrived. We chatted briefly about work and boats. JC had taken the Rambler’s motor apart… I joked about taking a photo of the old girl blowing smoke-rings. The banter levels increased all the while as the room filled up rapidly. Folk from far and wide, even a lad from Norway.
MF introduced the star of the night. Dick Warner spoke for more than an hour. With total ease. He spoke with an inner conviction about the joys of spending time on and along the Royal Canal… of his memories and of the quaint little villages, pubs and buildings along the way. He highlighted the great work done by local groups like the RCAG as well as the ceaseless work of the Waterways Ireland fixers and menders.
Throughout his chat, I’ll refrain from calling it a speech, a slideshow was playing in the background. Showing views and scenes along the canal that are now familiar to me. It is great listening to the veritable specialist when you yourself have an inkling of why there’s a passion. It’s great to say you share some of that passion, even just a tad… but it is also great to hear a legend speak while some of your images are flashed on the screen beside the speaker!
PS – The photo will win no awards… difficult enough to see in the low light, but… I had to get something with Dick Warner and one of my images… the Inny Aqueduct…
PSS – My only regret? Having to dash for the train and not being able to share in some of the after presentation banter. Although I got to shake the man’s hand on two occasions now I have yet to share a few words with him.
PSSS – For those of you who attach any merit to this sort of thing… Happy Leaped Year! 😛 May you enjoy many more!!!