Monthly Archives: October 2010

Sean and Gaelic football

Sean and friends at Breffni Park, Cavan, after winning a county title

Sean liked team sports … when we bought him a green ‘Ireland’ tee-shirt at the time of the 1994 World Cup, when he was about three, he said, ‘Great! Now I can be on a team!’

In rural Ireland, the GAA club is often the hub of the community. Sean played some soccer as a young kid in Dublin, but when we moved to the country it became obvious that Gaelic football was the natural outlet for youngsters interested in sport. Continue reading



Filed under Memories, Sport

Sean as rugby player

Sean as Virginia under-14

As a rugby fan, Sean had two great passions – Munster and Ireland, probably in that order. He was also a keen follower of Leinster and the Lions, and any team with Irish involvement.

Sean started to watch rugby on television with me when he was 10 or 11. Munster’s Heineken Cup exploits caught his imagination, and soon he and I were in the adjacent field with a rugby ball.

Sean joined the local Virginia Rugby Club and played with the under-12s … an unstructured type of game involving both boys and girls. He also played for the under-14s – a different kettle of fish – while still an under-12. His coach, when I introduced myself, said ‘Sean’s a fanatic’. Continue reading


Filed under Memories, Sport

A nice pic …

… of Sean brushing his own and his little sister’s teeth.


Filed under Biography

Some further thoughts on Sean

I must scan some photos and post a slideshow. In the meantime, Pauline and I have of course been thinking about Sean a lot. We are devastated.

It strikes me that his entire life, from conception to death, lasted 20 years – perhaps exactly.

Sean was born in the Coombe Hospital in Dublin at 18 minutes to midnight on Sunday, 28 July 1991. He died on a Sunday too.

When he was born, there was a true knot in his umbilical cord (which, fortunately, had not pulled tight). From some research this morning, it seems that such knots occur in 1% of pregnancies, and lead to a four-fold increase in likelihood of foetal death. Sean, typically, had been jumping about recklessly in the womb. It didn’t seem to have done him any harm. Continue reading


Filed under Anecdotes, Memories

Sean and photography

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We have hundreds of photos of Sean and his sister as children, some of which I will scan and upload. As a teenager Sean developed an interest in photography, and proved to have a talent for it. The photos on his Flickr site were taken when he was barely 16 years old. The one of me was uploaded three years to the day before he died.

Sean took photos for a nightclub, for a heritage society booklet and on various public occasions. One of his photos was used in the corporate image of a local hotel … Sean was surprised to see it on billboards, as his permission for its use had never been sought; it had been downloaded without his knowledge from his Flickr site. Continue reading


Filed under Photography

To Sean … The Last Day of Your Life

[Some early thoughts on Sean and his death … perhaps a bit sentimental, but it’s how I feel.]

The leaves of the Norway maple were turning yellow,
My dry-stone wall was in partial collapse
From all the footballs we had kicked against it;
The lawn was unmown; the mower needed fixing;
The fields were full of pheasants, the weather warm and dry;
You were nineteen years old; I was fifty.
It was the last day of your life, Sean,
But we didn’t know that yet.

Your mum and Susi were in Italy;
You and Clio walked the dogs
And laughed at Tango’s antics;
The three of us went to the Pumpkin Festival office
And bought tickets for the Fancy Dress Ball
And Imelda May; you noticed a candle-holder
Of stained glass that your mother made. Continue reading


Filed under Death, Uncategorized

Sean on holiday

Sean in Torremolinos with new friends, 2007

Sean in our apartment on holiday was such a rarity that my wife decided to record it

My wife, our daughter and Sean had four holidays in Majorca, Spain and Portugal when Sean was a teenager. From the time we arrived at our destination the rest of us hardly saw Sean at all, as he would be off making friends, socializing and having fun.

In Majorca in 2005, Sean had just turned 14. We were staying in an apartment/hotel complex used mainly by Irish holidaymakers; directly across the road was a more upmarket hotel occupied entirely by Germans. After a few days, Sean had befriended all the teenagers in our hotel, and must have felt the need to extend his scope. He started to go across to the German hotel and swim in the pool there, even though it was supposed to be for residents only (Sean always had a healthy disregard for every kind of rule). Continue reading


Filed under Anecdotes

Snow time


Filed under Death

Death in the country

Our son, Seán, was buried yesterday. We are told that it was the largest funeral in the parish in living memory. A guard of honour was provided by my daughter’s (and Sean’s former) school. The choir sang … I had picked the hymns. A rugby ball, his camera and a Bob Marley poster were brought up to the altar to represent his interests. After communion, I addressed the congregation briefly to thank everyone for their marvellous support and to tell Sean’s friends that my wife and I care about them, and that they will always be welcome in our house. Continue reading


Filed under Death, Ireland

Sean O’Brien … 28/7/1991-17/10/2010

Sean died suddenly and unexpectedly yesterday morning, possibly on account of a heart condition that nobody knew about. He was a lovely young man in every way, and will be sadly missed by a great many people. Everyone he ever met was his friend.

We love him, and we always will. RIP, Sean.


Filed under Death