FROM: Cliff Wilson, Barnstaple, Devon, England
Sincere thanks for kindness
My son Karl, his wife and two children (aged 6 and 3 months), and my wife and I, arrived in Rosslare by ferry from Pembroke on December 1 last. We were in two cars and arrived in a heavy fall of snow, though the main roads were passable with care. Our destination was a holiday let cottage at Bannow, but by 9.15 p.m. we had only made it as for as Wellingtonbridge, and our efforts to go any further were hopeless because of impacted snow and ice.
Our ultimate reason for being in Ireland was to visit friends in Cashel for the tenth anniversary of the death of our son Scott and their daughter Catriona: they were killed in a road accident in Australia on December 7, 2000, when a heavy goods lorry smashed into the back of their car, killing them instantly. Our intention was to have a few days at Bannow before moving on to Cashel for the weekend.
When we became stuck in Wellingtonbridge, the Costcutter shop was still open and appeared to be a meeting place for a few hardy souls, one of whom was a young man who offered to help fit chains to my son's car - unsuccessfully, but nevertheless he was kind to offer to help. I believe he had some connections with the staff at Costcutter. We thank him for his help and concern.
We called at the local pub on the corner to see if they could accommodate us overnight, but, unable to do so, the landlord (or his barman - I think it was someone called Michael) phoned a local B&B to see if they could help. The answer was that they were closed for the winter, but on hearing there were two young children involved and since it was getting very late, the extremely kind lady said she could help us out.
Given directions to overcome snow and ice-packed roads, we came to Haven Lodge, Rochestown, the home and business of Mr and Mrs Laurence and Ellen Colfer. (What an apt name - Haven Lodge!)
To say that we are eternally grateful for them to take us in at a moment's notice was unbelievable.
We were greeted as if we were longlost family and were welcomed with hot scones and tea, lovely warm accommodation, and the next morning, a sumptuous Irish breakfast. Nothing was too much trouble and the warmth and laughter shared were infectious.
Because of the adverse weather, we decided to forgo our few days in Bannow and go ahead to Cashel, booking some extra nights at the hotel where we were going to stay for the weekend.
There had been further snowfall overnight, so Laurence, our host, negotiated a way through narrow icepacked roads with his tractor, leading us to the main road which had fortunately been salted. We were then able to reach Cashel without further incident.
I thought it of great importance to convey these circumstances to you in order for you to consider its worth in your publication, so the greater populace may be aware of the absolute kindness, care and concern shown to us at our time of need by your fellow countrymen, especially the Colfers of Haven Lodge.
My wife and I have been to Ireland a few times now and have always found everyone so pleasant and helpful - a credit to your lovely country. Yours sincerely, Cliff Wilson.