One house in particular was a home from home for Sean. It’s a few miles from here, and out in the country like ours. We used to drop him there and collect him a lot; when I look back at my diaries I see that he often walked or cycled there when he was 11 or 12.
Sean got friendly with Robert and Martin, two brothers, at primary school. Their parents, Sarah and Graham, had moved to Ireland from Lancashire some years previously. (I won’t mention surnames because of the nature of the Internet.)
Martin continued to be one of Sean’s very best friends right to the end of his life. It was Martin that drove Sean and Clio here late on the night of Friday, 15 October, and Martin was one of the first at our house when the bad news broke on the Sunday morning.
Martin’s home was an open house and a meeting place … Sarah and Graham are generous, big-hearted people, and Sean was sure of being well fed while there, and having somewhere to sleep. Sarah ran a bed and breakfast, and there were always people coming and going, which suited our sociable Sean down to the ground.
There’s a good bit of land with the house – a man-made pond where the boys used to fish and swim; fields where they could drive old bangers; a pool room where they could drink when they were old enough (or before). It was the perfect place for a lively young boy or teenager, and Sean loved it.
Sarah, Graham, Brian, Helen, Robert and Martin, and Helen’s husband, John, and their children, were a kind of second family to Sean, and we’ll always be grateful to them for being so kind to him. They loved him, and were very upset when he died. The same can be said for Gary, Tony, and the other friends who used to gather there. Sean loved all those people too. They were a big part of the fun and good times in his full and happy life.
There are lots of stories about the crazy things that happened at Martin’s house, many of which we probably haven’t heard yet. Brian told me one – about an under-age drinking escapade – on the day Sean died. We look forward to hearing some more, over a few drinks, before too long.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many photos of those times, and there’s no recent one of the boys together. I wish there were, and I know that others wish that too. But there will always be the memories.