1 September 1999
1/9/99 – The kids went back to school – we all got up a bit earlier than usual; I made their lunch. Sean is going into third class, and Susanna into senior infants … They got on fine, although Sean wasn’t too pleased to get some homework on his first day – he thinks his teacher is a bit silly. Susanna loves school. She gave an amusing account of how one junior infant had run out the door and attempted to run away.
3/9/99 – We all had a walk up the fields in the evening.
6/9/99 – Sean, Susanna and I watched a programme about African elephants. Sean was genuinely outraged at the poaching of them, and advocated stiff penalties for the poachers. He decided that he wants to be a zoologist rather than an inventor. Continue reading
When Sean was about 10 and used to mention ‘the drunk lad’, we knew that he meant Shane MacGowan. He probably already liked the Pogues then – he certainly grew to like them a lot later, although they were never in the top echelon of his favourite bands.
Two of their audio tracks are still in the ‘music’ folder on his computer – ‘The Irish Rover’ and ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, both performed with the Dubliners. Among his YouTube favourites are video clips of ‘Rainy Night in Soho’, ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ and ‘Fiesta’. I have my own memories of these and other Pogues tracks. Continue reading
A thrilling game, and a great day for Irish rugby … Sean would have loved it, as he loved all the huge performances by Munster, Leinster and Ireland teams over the years. Pauline and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and Ireland may yet go a long way in the competition.
Eleven months today, Sean, and it seems like only yesterday that you were here with us. Love you and miss you.
… twenty years ago, in the back garden of our house in Olivemount Road, Windy Arbour, Dublin … the first house Sean lived in. In the background is the steeple of Bird Avenue Church, where Sean was christened.
We named our baby Sean Peter, after his two granddads. He and they are gone now. Twenty years later a baby has Sean as his middle name, after our Sean.
Life goes on, even if your heart is broken.
I had a shower and a shave; Sean had a shower; Mark drove the kids to school. I worked on the HIP Survey. Aileen and Jim arrived around lunchtime, with L and O – Pauline was at the shops at the time. We chatted and I made pizzas for lunch (Pauline had bought pizza bases).
In the afternoon news started to come through of the terrible incidents in New York and Washington, and we watched some of the coverage on TV. These were really appalling acts, and will clearly dominate the news for some time. They will undoubtedly have an impact on life for decades to come.
Pauline made a shepherd’s pie for everybody, and the kids played together. Jim and I had a walk; we met Mark and his cousin Ciarán, and had a chat with them. Pauline, Jim and I drank two bottles of wine, and we and Aileen chatted at the kitchen table.
How are you? I and my family are fine. But I miss you a lot. I have had a lot of exams, but now I have holidays.
I like your letter very much and the photographs too. Sean and Susanna are lovely.
This summer has been the best of my live. I enjoyed a lot in Ireland, which is a wonderful country. I enjoyed my stay with you and you have been very generous and pleasant with me.
Sean and Susanna are friendly children. I always remember when they played with me and Diana. Continue reading
An hour or so ago I stood in the doorway and waved as Pauline and Susanna drove off in the lashing rain – heading to Dublin, and planning to pick up some friends en route. Susanna is starting university life, which is very exciting for her. For the first time in 20 years Pauline and I will be living on our own, although Susanna will come home frequently.
I have been tidying my office and weeding my files this weekend. In a letter I wrote to Steve, a former colleague in England, dated 8 July 1996, I found this:
Sean is almost five years old now, and has finished his first year at school, which he loved from the first day. He can do a bit of writing, but hasn’t got the hang of reading yet. He’s very outgoing and likes virtually everybody he meets, and he seems to be very popular with other kids: he’s always had a certain charisma. He’s a perpetual enthusiast: on being given a hand-me-down football jersey the other day his reaction, typically, was ‘Great! Now I can be in a team!’ Continue reading