Sean’s world 4

Sean in school uniform outside the Centra supermarket, Virginia

We live three miles from Oldcastle (in Co. Meath and Leinster) and six miles from Virginia (in Co. Cavan and Ulster). To get to Virginia we must drive around Lough Ramor … we can go either clockwise or anticlockwise.

When he finished primary school locally, Sean could have gone to secondary school in either of these small towns. We visited both schools, and he chose Virginia. He never regretted this … he loved Virginia and always spent a lot of his time there; it was the hub of his world.

I prefer the anticlockwise route to and from Virginia … all left turns, and a more pleasant drive in my opinion. Most of my journeys to town and then home have entailed a complete anticlockwise circumvention of the lake. On hundreds of these Sean was in the passenger seat for half the journey, as I dropped him to town or picked him up.

Sean had friends in various parts of Virginia (especially Forest Park, the ‘rough’ estate). He knew every inch of the place, and most of the people … all the young people. They all knew and liked him; he got on with everyone. It was his stomping ground – his element, where he was totally at ease. He had made friends through the rugby club, school or just general socializing, and was always sure of meeting someone to chat to and have the craic with.

A friend of ours with whom we shared a school run told us that Sean would very often be late in arriving at the supermarket to be picked up after school … he would have stopped to chat to people on the way. I sometimes got cross with him over his lack of punctuality, but that was Sean and we couldn’t change him. He was primarily interested in people; time was a secondary consideration.

He played rugby, and did rugby training, in Virginia. He also trained at the boxing club. He went out on rowing boats on the beautiful lake. He played soccer in the school yard, even after he left school. He drank in a pub known as Fay’s (though that, typically, was not its name) or drank cans of cider with his friends on weekend nights in the forest near the lake.

Once, when the police were trying to crack down on open-air drinking, they brought him home … he had been the only one that didn’t run away when they showed up. They told us that he was a very nice young man … he had chatted to them constantly in the car about his plans for college and suchlike.

Every time I go to Virginia now I wish that Sean was in the car with me, or that I was going to pick him up at one of the usual spots. I would see him smile as he saw me coming and then got into the car; we would discuss the latest rugby or soccer developments on the way home. But that will never happen now. After 39 days it’s still hard to believe, and hard to take. We miss you, Sean.



Filed under Ireland, Memories

20 responses to “Sean’s world 4

  1. Cymbeline

    Hello Brendano. You give the reader a very clear idea of how topography, movement, time and feeling are all inter-connected. The way around the lake, the ways of doing things; even ‘the way’ on the supermarket window behind your son.

    Like a watch with an essential piece missing, your world does not work in the same way any more.

  2. Hello Cymbeline. Yes, that’s very true. Sadly, it will never work the same way again. We’ll find another way, but it won’t be so much fun. I’ve just been to Virginia (anticlockwise) and done the grocery shopping.

    ‘For the way we live today’ is the supermarket slogan on the window. Clever of you to spot that.

  3. Cymbeline

    No, it will never work the same way again.

    You said that your son’s final resting place overlooks the lake. I hope that this topographical detail may come to be of spiritual help to you.

  4. Marya

    Hello Brendan … as I was reading your poignant thoughts .. this beautiful poem of Yeats came to mind ..

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
    While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

    ‘in the deep heart’s core’ is Sean ..

    Marya x

    • Thanks, Marya … that certainly is beautiful. I’m feeling a bit battered and bruised, emotionally speaking, today.

      Sean was at home on the lake … in a boat, or swimming out to an island.

      A few summers ago he worked for a farmer whose land abuts the lake. The farmer mentioned that some time previously a very large piece of polystyrene had washed up on his shore, and he had subsequently seen some people in a rowing boat on the lake, dragging the polystyrene and playing with it. ‘That was me,’ said Sean.

  5. Marya

    It’s wonderful that Sean had the delight and freedom of the lake and the countryside as he was growing up .. but now all these memories of the lovely childhood you and Pauline gave him are so painful to recall .. these great troughs of sorrow and yearning will become less frequent and less deep as time passes .. and that in itself will be an occasion for sorrow,Brendan, but one day you will reach an equilibrium .. like the moment when the sun sets and the moon rises ..

    Marya x

    • Thank you, Marya … that’s very kind of you. You know whereof you speak, and your words do help.

      The school is by the lake. In the yearbook, Susanna’s ‘happiest memory’ will be of swimming in the lake during the hot weather while she was doing her Junior Cert.

      • Marya

        Thank you, Brendan. It’s very kind of you to let me know that.

        May Susanna have many more happy memories to recall ..

        I lit a candle for you all on Wednesday in Truro cathedral ..

        Marya x

      • Cymbeline

        Lakes and their hold on children. I know about that.

        For eight years, we lived a few footsteps away from a mountain lake. The lake was part of my children’s life. Swimming, sailing, rowing, jumping off the cliff, ice on it in winter, the time it was so cold that the ducks died, the stories of what it held (dastardly pike, a whole derailed train …), the pedalos, the pontoon, the story of how my daughter fell in it on the 1st January 2000, thus being the first person of the millennium to be immersed in its waters, the time one of my son’s friends worked for a couple of summers on the pedalos and ice-cream booth, earning enough money to visit us in the Caribbean, the yearly 14th July firework show over the lake etc.

        The pieces of glass at the top of the grave marker remind me of the way water moves on the surface of a lake.

        • Marya

          Hello Cymbeline … I am well, thank you. I hope you are, too, and I hope your son’s wound has healed well.

          Yes, the glass has that beautiful effect .. the hypnotic attraction of gently moving water .. it is lovely.

  6. Great lake lore, Cymbeline. The magic of lakes. I spent a lot of time in and around one when I was young … as I have mentioned before, I grew up six miles from Lough Derg in Co. Tipperary (on the dark mutinous Shannon, as Joyce would have it). Some big pike there.

    Our lake froze last winter.

  7. Still Guffin'

    The Infamous “Forest”

    I remember the first time i was there, 13 maybe 14, I met Sean at Centra and he walked me down, when i refused a can Sean praised me for not drinking, we talked about boxing that night for hours!
    Haa and we had to Carry Stevo home, it was the same night Sean Took the video that is now on his You tube account!

    I remember it was the first time i was in your house Brendan, only met you breifly, me Sean adn Aaron Watched the Scrubs Marathon in the sitting room till i got picked up.

    I looked up to them so much it’s almost funny to think back, I thought they were sooo cool, haha, Great Memories!

    • Yes, I’ve seen the video! We sometimes dropped Stevo home when he was in that kind of state.

      Is your name Adam? The All-Ireland you talked about must be in boxing … again, good luck. Sean would love to be there watching you.

      Do keep in touch.


    myself and Mam are in an internet cafe in Dublin – I’ve just shown her the blog. we’re both very touched. it’s great to be able to get to know my cousin a bit better through these photos and memories you’ve put together so well. thanks so much.

    • Hi Aedín … thanks for this; I’m glad you like the blog. I’ll be adding more stuff about Sean.

      It was great to see you, Mary and Ann on Friday … a pity you had to leave so soon, as there was good music afterwards. There will be other times.

  9. Mary Darmody

    I was very moved by your posts and pictures on the blog. great to see Sean at all stages of his life. I was glad to be able to make it to the month’s mind, as were Ann and Aedín. We would love to visit you when aoife is home and play some music in the house – when is suitable, aoife will be back to Spain on the fifth of January. We know that you will have a lot of guests around then.
    will be in touch

    • Hi Mary … thank you. I hope you enjoyed your weekend in Dublin with your friends. It would be great if some or all of you could come up for a visit, and especially to have music here. We’ll definitely arrange something soon.

      All our other visitors left yesterday, so it’s just Pauline, Susanna and me here now. We’ve walked the dogs in the snow and are about to watch the rugby.

      Take care.

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