Sean’s world 5

Apart from Dublin and Munterconnaught (and a pre-natal stint in London), the only place Sean ever lived was Cavan town, half an hour north-west of us.

I have never spent much time there, except for the 2006–7 rugby season when Sean played under-16 rugby for Cavan and I helped out with the coaching. I don’t know the town very well.

In his first year at Cavan Institute, a third-level college (2008–9), Sean studied Multimedia Production … a FETAC level 5 course. He was always good with computers, and the course suited him well. We used to drop him to Virginia each morning, and he would catch the bus to Cavan. The course was largely project-based, and his results for the year were excellent … he gained a distinction or a merit in every subject.

Sean decided to take the next level of the same course in 2009–10. He wanted to live in Cavan so that he wouldn’t have to commute, and his mum and I went along with this. He and another young man rented a fourth-floor apartment at the ridiculously named Hampton Court (nothing like the palace), a few metres from the college. Sean moved in there in September 2009.

Academically, the year was something of a fiasco, as Sean put his social life first. He made a lot of friends, as usual … many of them visited our house in the days following his death.

From correspondence with his tutors, it became clear to us in April or so that Sean would not get his qualification for the year due to poor attendance. (It ought to be said that the tutors, who also visited us, still thought very highly of him.)

Pauline and I went up to Cavan to discuss the situation with him. It was an emotional meeting … Sean felt very bad about, as he saw it, letting us down. (At the start of the current academic year he was advising new students against making the same mistakes.) We knew it wasn’t the end of the world … I had done something similar at the same age.

We weren’t angry with Sean, although we were disappointed that the year would have been a waste, academically speaking. He was still very young, after all … only 18. We are glad now that he concentrated on enjoying himself.

Sean moved out of his apartment, and in with us again, at the end of May. He went up and down to Cavan to see his friends from time to time. He also did some training in bar work there, and in August he worked as a barman at the Breffni Inn during the All-Ireland Fleadh … tough and enjoyable work for him. I was very proud of my son when I watched him behind the bar in the crowded pub. He carried himself well, and was popular with his boss, colleagues and drinkers alike.

Soon after Sean moved into Hampton Court, he started to communicate with a young woman he could see through the college window across the way (in photo), by holding up notes (I think one said ‘Are you a nurse? Can you heal me?’). This was Clio, a nursing student at the time, and she became the love of Sean’s life. Pauline and I are extremely glad that they met and had such a wonderful year together, even though Clio, like us, is heartbroken. We now see her as a member of our family.

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13 Comments

Filed under Ireland, Stories, The music of what happened

13 responses to “Sean’s world 5

  1. Marya

    Hello Brendan … in the threads of which the tapestry of our lives is woven … perhaps in choosing to live at Hampton Court the silken thread of meeting, knowing and loving Clio and being loved by her in return was the completion of Sean’s life’s design.

    My heart goes out to Clio in her great sorrow x

    Marya x

    • Hello Marya … thank you for this. I think what you say regarding a ‘life design’ is true. Pauline and I were discussing this idea this morning. Also the idea that, at some unconscious level, Sean knew his time would be short and he needed to pack a lot in.

      The pain is still sharp, but I think the idea of a design or scheme of things will help us to come to terms with Sean’s death, and does make sense. Also, we know of other people whose experience of traumatic loss has been far worse than ours.

      • Marya

        We seem to be able to discern these things retrospectively .. looking through the glass clearly.
        It’s a blessing to gain some solace and comfort from this perspective ..

        Marya x

        • Thank you, Marya. I think we’re beginning to put things into a more philosophical perspective here, although of course it’s still a hard and bumpy road and it’s different for everybody.

        • Marya

          Yes, grieving is a deeply personal journey … hopefully, the love of your family and friends will help to light the way when the road seems dark and endless.

          Marya x

  2. It is a small world. Before the new building opened I did French & German there. At the convent blg where all the girls were burned to death in ’43. Breffni Inn? Still an adjunct of SF? It was when I was there. The sign holding reminds me of when I was in England. One giy found out we had a buxom gal on our floor and did a “Juicy Lucy” placard.

  3. Two of my family were killed. As to the Breffni, yes, it was (unofficial) SF HQ before the ceasefire.

  4. When we met Sean in Cavan after finding that he had ‘failed’ the year, one of the things he said to us was that he had learned an awful lot about himself in that time. He didn’t see it as a complete failure, and nor did we. Far from it.

  5. Yes the end near The Terraces. Laners as my cousins in the hills call ’em.

  6. Cymbeline

    Hello Brendano. Did your son take this photograph? It is a work of art.

    • Hello Cymbeline … I hope you’re well. Yes, he did take it, from his apartment window. I agree with your verdict on it.

      The countryside here is stunning these days, with scenes of snow and mist … just begging to be photographed. The lake is frozen.

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