6.50am and I'm all alone on Cullenstown Strand, except
for the pair of starlings chattering away on the beach. They have other
things on their mind, this spring morning. It's hard to think that in four
hours time, thousands of people will walk this same route to see Brigid go
free. The honk of a car horn. Time to stop dreaming. Gerald Wooley and
crew of the Irish Coastguard are here to stake out the beach.
7.15am and the first drops of rain appear. Is this an omen of things to come? Soon the drops turn to drizzle and then to a downpour. Can it get any worse? Yes. The wind gets up to Force 5.
8.45am and all is set up. RTE presenters arrive, but stay within the warmth of the car. Possibility that TV may cancel the coverage. We need a slice of luck. It arrives in the form of sunshine and a break in the rain. It's back on for TV again, as long as the rain holds off.
10.15am and the beach begins to fill with people. Things are looking up. The TV and radio people go thru' a final technical check. Seal Sanctuary people relax and await the arrival of Brigid.
10.55am and the crowd has swollen to 2,000. A huge crowd considering the weather this morning. The minutes tick on. Soon it'll be showtime!
11.00am and Derek Mooney announces
Welcome to Cullenstown beach for the 100th seal release.................... This is it. No going back.
As if on cue, the rain starts again. No not rain. Downpour. The crowd hold firm. The show goes on. Brendan arrives in the new ambulance. The seal is unloaded. Brendan chats about the journey down. Derek shows footage of the Sanctuary and Cullenstown. Brigid is placed in position. Local people and the seal rescuers are interviewed.
Brendan addresses the crowd and asks for a countdown. The box is opened. Brigid is facing the wrong way. Oohs! and Aahs! from the crowd. She turns and darts from the box. She sees the see and tastes the salty sand. A quick turn back and on her way again. The crowd surge forward. Within 4 minutes she hits the water to a great cheer. TV and Radio coverage continue with viewers calls and a piece from the Saltee Islands.
Tom Rowley from the National Millenium committee presents the Sanctuary with a cheque for £3,000. This is the first time a seal has been paid for in 14 years. Thanks. Don Conroy has been painting a seal live in the rain to be raffled on Telethon. It's finished now and time is almost up. As we go off air the sun starts to shine again.
What a day!
Copyright 2000-2009 by the Irish Seal Sanctuary. All rights reserved.