After a somewhat false start on January 16th, due to severe weather conditions, we set off on Saturday, 6th March on our trip to Omagh. Our original plan was to fill one bus, but such was the demand for seats, that we hired a minibus as well. The weather looked promising on this occasion and we felt sure if we got as far as Knock, it would be plain sailing after that.
We departed Claregalway in great spirits, looking forward to the trip which was, for most of us, our first time in Omagh. Our Bus Éireann driver was Tom Feeney and Tommy Farragher drove his own minibus.
Our first stop was Yeats’ County Hotel in Curry, where we all had a lovely breakfast. We then travelled on to Omagh, arriving at 1pm and were free to do as we pleased until our departure at 4.30pm. We found the people very friendly and welcoming and nearly all the shops accepted Irish Punts.
Some enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the town, while there was evidence (i.e. large numbers of shopping bags) that others shopped till they dropped. We met Omagh District Councillor, Mr. Paddy McGowan, MBE, who thanked us for coming. He talked about the day the horrific bomb shattered the lives of so many and how they were trying to cope with their tragedies. He described how he used the buses as ambulances to ferry the injured to hospital and of the sheer and utter devastation caused by the explosion. He knew most of the victims and their families well. We left Omagh feeling a little sad at what we had seen and heard and grateful too for the peace we are so lucky to enjoy. As Paddy McGowan escorted us to the outskirts of the town, we recited the Rosary, led by Margaret Long, for the happy repose of the souls of the victims and for their grieving families who are now trying to pick up the pieces. We all felt it was a very worthwhile visit.
Our next stop was Bundoran, where we had booked a meal in the Holyrood Hotel. Those who still had a few pounds left, visited the shops that were open and all enjoyed the delicious meal we received. It was all ready when we arrived and both service and the food was excellent. When everyone was fed and watered to their satisfaction, we hit the road for home. We arrived in Claregalway ahead of schedule and all agreed that they had a wonderful day. Paul Fleming, whose idea it was to go to Omagh, and myself had a wonderful, enjoyable, hassle-free day. Everything went according to plan and our two excellent drivers brought us all home safely. All passengers behaved impeccably and great bursts of laughter could be heard all over the buses from time to time.
Occasionally, we all think and talk about things we should do—sometimes it is nice to just do it!