Lough Derg Lockdown

He walked to Lough Derg every day during lockdown. By himself. It wasn’t lost on him how
blessed he was, to have such beauty within two kilometres of his home. He didn’t have to worry
about social distancing, he met no one except the birds.
He would start most days at the inlet of Castle Lough, sitting, and thinking and being still. Things
had been taking their toll on him lately.
He would soak up the views of this majestic lake that he had swam in, fished in, ran by its
shores, and lived by its water. Sure, he had nowhere else to be.
The gentle waves crashing in and out, would lead him to close his eyes and long for the
summer months ahead, where he could swim all day if he so chose.
He nearly leapt to a stand when he heard a voice behind him that day. ‘Beautiful isn’t it?’, a
woman’s voice. A strange accent. ‘Oh it is that!’ he replied, turning around, seeing a woman
who looked around his own age from a glance, early forties.
‘If we hadn’t that to look at through all this, where would we be?’, she said gesturing to the water
in front of them. She sat down on the grass, keeping the two metres, mind you. He could see
her better now. Sandy brown hair to her shoulders, big green eyes, and a smile that he would
have remembered if he had seen it before.
‘I’m Darragh,’ no handshake. ‘Julie.’ ‘I haven’t met you before, Julie, and I’m here every day.’ ‘I’m
in there,’ she said pointing towards the woods that hug the shoreline, ‘on the rocks, with my feet
in the water if I can bear it.’
‘Are you local, so?’ he asked. ‘No, I’m not long moved here, just before lockdown.’ I’m not we’re,
noted Darragh. ‘It’s a strange time, not being able to go out and meet anyone,’ she continued.
‘Well, you’ve met your first neighbour now,’ he smiled at her, bashfully. She smiled back.
Julie thought him handsome. It wasn’t the first day she had seen him.
Indeed, she had seen him from those very rocks, and thought about getting a little closer and
saying hello. His dark beard was greying at the chin. His hair could do with a trim; then couldn’t
we all, she thought.
‘It’s called after the blood of a King,’ started Darragh, ‘the lake-Loch Dergdheirc, a King by the
name of Eochy. A poet asked him for his only remaining eye, so he plucked it out and gave it to
him, and rinsed his wound in that water, turning it red.’
‘Or so the story goes.’ she smiled. ‘It cleansed his wound and helped his healing. That’s how I
like to think of it.’ he said contemplatively.
They sat for a while, in silence, lost in the body of water that lay before them; conversations
would spurt, before they would get lost in the rhythm of the water again.
‘Down here at sunrise, when the days get warmer, I try to come every morning for a dip, it’s
something special.’ he said. ‘Aren’t you freezing?’ ‘You get used to it; you’ll have to try it some
morning…at a distance like’. ‘Of course,’ she blushed a little, breaking from his gaze. ‘I might
see you some morning then’, she said getting up to go. ‘That’d be lovely. I’ll see you then.’ ‘Stay
safe, Darragh.’ He watched her walk off into the distance. Along a path that’s foliage was
springing into abundance, a little more with each day that passed; in the shadow of the place he
loved the most.