The Covid culture has brought words into our vocabularies that this time last year we could never have imagined we would use so frequently, or easily.

Some terms have grated me inside out. “New Normal” bugs the little patience a 49-year-old mother five might have clean out of me and tramples on it. Lads there is nothing normal about this and I will not go quietly into that good night.

And the worst of them all – “Staycation”. If you travel to another place and stay in another bed you are on holiday. If you are a resident of the United States you are on vacation. If you are deciding to have a holiday in your own house, which I would call relaxing at home, but I will countenance in this one set of circumstances then you are probably having said “staycation”.

And this is not a love of the English language thing. This is valuing the thing we have done all of our lives, spent considerable sums of money on, build incredible memories from and dragged every last drop of enjoyment from – the holiday on the island of Ireland. Calling it a “staycation” feels like a diminishing of the most wonderful days of our lives.

We didn’t have many holidays when I was young. No one did. But the ones we did have are imprinted on my memory like they happened yesterday.

The five days we spent in Wicklow and Wexford, visiting Courtown’s beaches, sheltering in Wexford town’s pubs (It was teeming rain outside and while my father needed few excuses, that day it made total sense to be sat by a fire of briquettes with me and the brother drinking a bottle of red lemonade, eating packets of King crisps while the mam and dad drank liberal numbers of glasses of Harp with a splash of lime and pints of Guinness), and discovering the joys of Clara Lara before the one long sunny day on Brittas Bay.

Or the week in Mayo where we stayed in a bed and breakfast in Louisburgh and the mother bought a goat skin rug in Westport (I wont go into detail of the impact that rug had on our two jack russells, but they immediately fell in love with it, horrifying the mother, and giving the father belly laughs until the day he died).

The boat trip to Clare island, which along with us and maybe two other families of “tourists” brought supplies over including fresh kegs of Guinness and two full carcasses of beef. The weather split the trees and being unprepared, we just stripped to our vests and pants and ran into the sea. The father took the shirt off and rolled up his trousers and the mother sat in her skirt and, for one day only, just her bra, telling us not to look when we ran up towards them. The one pub on the island served fresh ham sandwiches and we drank deeply on rock shandies, and for once sand didn’t scratch and tangled hair was for another day.

We don’t have to give new names to the one thing that is normal this year. A break, short or long, on our own island is and always has been, the best, making special memories that our children will hold for a lifetime. Bain sult as.

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