It was a perfect day in Ventry, not a cloud in the sky. The children were at small play (11 am) in the school yard. In this small school, in those days, boys and girls played separately. Technically, the path from the school gate to the front door was the demarcation line between the two genders. But the boys played barefoot football, and appropriated half the girls' territory, relegating us to the back.
So it was one of the boys who alerted us. "Oh, look, look!" We all ran to the front wall. There, rising from the dead centre of the v formed by the Clasach pass between Mount Eagle and Cruach Mhárthain, the sky was splitting. A narrow white line moved inexorably upwards. We all stared in silence for a few moments, digesting this phenomenon.
Clearly the world was breaking apart. It was bound to do it one day, the old people referred to disaster as the earth and sky mingling, and this was obviously about to take place. There was screaming, children began to run to and fro. There was crying. I was scared. Eileen O'Sullivan wanted a priest. She was nine. Even in extremis, as we believed ourselves to be, I remember wondering what she could possibly have done that required that she be shriven. I just wanted the sky to zip back up, everything to be all right. To be at home would be good too.
The bell rang, and the class tumbled with unaccustomed speed into the classroom, gasping the tale to the master. "Oh, yes," he said indifferently. "A jet plane." The first we had seen.
Now the sky is full of contrails.