As we settled into this area and our newly built house, Sean made some good friends in the local primary school, which he attended for four school years from 1998 to 2003. He played soccer in the yard with the other boys; we have a plaque that he won as part of the school quiz team.
His customary world extended to the Gaelic football club, as I have mentioned, and to the Blackwater river, where I would take him fishing … he later took the photo close to where we used to stand.
He liked to fish, and took it quite seriously. We caught small perch and (usually) smallish trout. Sometimes we caught a good-sized trout and took it home to cook; otherwise we released our catch back into the water.
Once Sean caught a nice trout, perhaps a couple of pounds. We rang his mum to come and take a photo of him with it by the river. Before she arrived, some people were passing by on the bridge … Sean took the fish from the keeping net and held it up to show them, whereupon it jumped from his hands into the river and swam away.
There are about six houses close to ours, and children lived in several of them while Sean and Susanna were growing up. There was always a gang of kids to play together, and they had many adventures … they used to build tree houses, or go to the ‘forest’ down the road, or up the fields to a wild and rocky area where, in one part, there were hundreds of sheep skulls. This was known as the sheep’s graveyard. Often we wouldn’t see them for hours, and would sound the car horn when dinner was ready. They had an idyllic life, with a very high degree of freedom.
Sean and Susanna often used to ‘help out’ with the milking on a farm down the road. Afterwards they would be given tea and cake, and the two of them would entertain their hosts at the kitchen table by singing songs. They knew everyone in the area, and were part of a community where people looked out for each other.
Although Sean moved on later, he kept his Munterconnaught friends. Munterconnaught was his home base, where he was completely at ease, and he provided what is probably the best photographic record of it in the heritage society booklet Munterconnaught Uncovered, published in 2008.
Lately he had been designing and developing a website for the heritage society … he showed us what he had done at the last meeting. We will have to find someone else to complete his work.