Sean lived on the southside of Dublin for the first seven years of his life … first in Windy Arbour, where his mum and I rented a house on returning from London in 1991, and then in a house we bought in Broadford Lawn, Ballinteer … we moved into it on 2 July 1992, when Sean was 11 months old.
We migrated from Dublin to Munterconnaught, in rural Co. Cavan, on 16 August 1998 … Pauline and I felt that the children (Sean’s sister was not yet five) would have a better lifestyle in the countryside. We were right.
First we rented a house while ours was being built; we have lived in our current house since 17 December 1999.
In his 12 years in this area, Sean made a big impression on a lot of people. Considering the relative isolation of where we live, his impact was remarkable. Hundreds of people were deeply affected by his death; his funeral was massive and there have been innumerable tributes and expressions of sorrow on Facebook and elsewhere. Yet when we first moved here we knew just three people locally.
Sean’s world consisted chiefly of Munterconnaught (a dispersed community: farmland with houses, a church, a primary school and a pub/shop), the small town of Virginia (a village by international standards, six miles away on the other side of Lough Ramor), and Cavan town, where he had an apartment from September 2009 to June 2010 (he used to come home at weekends). The closest small town to us – Oldcastle, to the south in Co. Meath – was outside his ken and he had as little to do with it as possible.
Sean and his sister attended the local primary school from September 1998 (the photo above was taken on their first day … it had about 80 pupils at the time; it has twice as many now). He had already had three years of school in Dublin, at St Attracta’s, Ballinteer (junior infants, senior infants and first class).
As he was very young for his school year, we gave him the option of repeating first class in Munterconnaught, but Sean was adamant that he wished to go into second class. As a result, he was young for his year all the way through school (as I had been in my time … our birthdays were just four days apart).
Although we were not practising Catholics, Sean made his first holy communion (photo below) with his old Dublin class in 1999 (as he was ‘out of sync’ with the local first communicants). Before that, he had the unusual experience of having his first (and probably last) confession heard in a car.