Christmas morning in Longford was windy with some heavy squally showers. For many, venturing outdoors was not an option.
However for one particularly hardy group, the weather has nothing to do with a popular Christmas morning tradition in Longford town - the GOAL Mile.
For over twenty years now, a group which started off with a mere handful has steadily grown into about a 100 hardy, generous souls who turn up year and after year, no matter what the weather brings.
This year was no different. At ten to midday, all was still and quiet at the gates of Connolly Barracks. Then within a few minutes the place erupted into a multitude of bright red Santa suits and a splattering of yellow and orange hi vis running gear, sensible shoes and coats were also in evidence.
There were participants back home from all over the globe, Georgia, Poland, America, the Middle East and England.
There was a brief welcome and thank you from Tiernan Dolan, the organiser who informed participants that the monies raised would be going to help street children in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone.
Then just before participants hit off, he asked for prayers for a long time local supporter of GOAL who was seriously ill.
The entire event was over in less than twenty minutes as the Santy suits and hi vis running gear disappeared back into warm cars. But there was a great communal sense of having done something positive, however small, on Christmas morning.
Later in the evening, it was revealed that the amount raised by the group was a wonderful €3,677.55, not bad for 20 minutes walking or running.
However, later in the evening, we were also to learn of the sad death of Ina McCormack, Loughill, Coolarty and Edgeworthstown who had died after a tough, long battle with illness.
For many years, Ina was Longford's greatest contributor to all of GOAL's work and so many more charities local, national and international.
Ina was an inspiration to anyone and everyone who were privileged to have known her. When it came to helping people less fortunate than herself, there simply was no equal to Ina McCormack.
There are thousands of people, who never knew her, in countries scattered all over the world whose lives have been improved by Ina, there are many,many people all over the county of Longford who lives have been enriched by knowing this genial and spiritual lady and then she also rescued and cared for a multitude of cats, dogs and one great big goat.
Tiernan Dolan remarked, “The Christmas day GOAL Mile was a terrific success and a sincere thank you to all who contributed in any way but Christmas day 2016 for all local GOAL supporters will have a tinge of sadness at the passing of its greatest ever supporter, Ina McCormack. May she rest in perfect peace.”