St Patricks Weekend at De La Salle High School Downpatrick 13th to 15th March 2020. 

Friday the 13th saw us warmly welcomed by our hosts Joyce McMillen and Joyce McCune ably assisted by Eleanor McFadden. The parking was handled by their other halves John, John and Victor. The weather stayed dry allowing us all to get parked up and settled without reaching for the raincoats.

On Friday evening we gathered in the hall for a night of music. First we were treated to a fantastic session of Irish Music provided by our very own Des Crawford. Then DJ Joe took over the mantle and provided us with his tried and trusted mix of music to get us all up dancing. Whilst these intrepid reporters left around 12, it was clear from the chat the next day, that the music, dancing and comedy had continued well into Saturday morning.

Saturday started off a bright and dry day, but cold outside the van. Some members decided to venture into the town for a bit of retail therapy and/or a cultural experience at the towns museum and around its historic sites. The ever impending rain duly arrived in the afternoon, but didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.

Saturday evening we all headed back to the hall for a lovely Irish Stew supper, served with wheaten bread. This was followed by a choice of home made desserts. Joe thanked Julie Irwin for organising the stew and providing the home made desserts and to all those who helped warm up the stew and serve everything.

A new musician had been booked for the night, Victor Mawhinney, but due to the small turnout of vans it was decided to cancel him (which he agreed to do without charge). This left the way open for DJ Joe to step in and deliver his second entertainment session of the weekend. He played a mixture of jokes (all reference to Murphy were no relation - honest) followed by music which kept the dance floor filled and went on into the wee small hours.

At Sundays coffee morning Joe welcomed us all and reported that a total of 20 vans had made it to the rally. This was well down from the 51 vans at last year’s rally and was put down to a mixture of there being no parade and natural concerns over the coronavirus. He thanked our hosts who he called John and Joyce mark1 and mark2 (he diplomatically didn’t specify which couple was 1 and which was 2). He also thanked their friends Eleanor and Victor for helping out. Birthday wishes went to Philip Cardwell and Eleanor McFadden. Anniversary congratulations went to Eleanor and Victor McFadden on their 51st wedding anniversary. Bob and Iris were congratulated on their new van.

The next rally is to be held in Cookstown in a fortnight’s time. Joe stated that at the moment it was still on and David would be sending out the normal text next Saturday confirming this. He said that obviously this could all change if for example the schools were to close, but David would send out another text advising of this.

Joe handed the mike over to one of our hosts, John McMillen who thanked Des Crawford for the Irish music session and Joe for his help over the weekend. He thanked Julie for the Irish Stew and desserts, those who had helped her, and all the Little family for their help over the weekend.  The quiz was won by Yvonne Little and number plate draw by Alan Fluke. He wished us all a safe journey home.

Thank you to our hosts for a very enjoyable and successful weekend.

Martin and Winnie Murphy