2/6/96 – In the afternoon we all went to the Giant’s Causeway and had a good time clambering about – Sean was especially impressed because of the story about Finn McCool and the causeway in his new book.
3/6/96 – After playing around for a while we drove to Derry, where we had a pleasant day. We walked around the centre and about half the city walls, and had lunch, then Pauline took the kids swimming and I had three pints in three different pubs … We drove to Portstewart, had something to eat in Morelli’s and played on the swings and slides on the prom.
4/6/96 – In the afternoon we walked down the prom and the kids played in the sand at the crescent, then we walked round the coast a bit and ‘home’ … The kids were asleep by 8.30, having played energetically in the garden (Sean really went flying off the swing at one point).
5/6/96 – We headed for White Park Bay and spent a few hours on the beautiful beach there, which we more or less had to ourselves. Then we went to Ballycastle and had something to eat from a chipper, then ‘home’.
6/6/96 – In the afternoon Pauline , the kids and I went to White Rocks Beach near Portrush and spent a few hours there, which was good fun – Pauline, Sean and Susanna love beaches.
10/6/96 – [Back in Dublin] Sean went to Matthew’s birthday party in the afternoon.
13/6/96 – I took Sean and Susanna to the green area, ostensibly for him to practise for his sports day tomorrow … When they were in bed Pauline gold-leafed designs on the wall of their bedroom.
14/6/96 – I had a rushed job to do, so I missed Sean’s sports day (he finished in the ‘miggle’ of the field in his two races).
16/6/96 – Pauline and Susanna went to collect Laura, our student, at Alexandra College. Laura is almost 18 years old and is from La Spezia in Italy. She is very nice. We talked for a while – Laura has some English – and she gave us Amaretti cakes and parmesan cheese, and showed us her own part of Italy as pictured in books.
19/6/96 – Laura and I watched Italy play Germany in Euro 96, and Pauline watched the second half. A 0–0 draw meant that Italy were knocked out, to Laura’s disappointment.
21/6/96 – Sean had to be in school early – he was going on a trip to the Lambert Puppet Theatre … [later] Pauline, Sean and Susanna had a good time at the swimming pool.
23/6/96 – We went for a drive and ended up in Arklow … Pauline took the kids out on the Avoca river in a pedal-boat, which they enjoyed.
1/7/96 – Sean started his summer school, and had a bus trip to Adventure World in Santry and back. He was in a group of kids he didn’t know and seems mainly to have played by himself, but made a friend (Karen) on the bus home … [later] Sean was cheeky and got no stories in bed, to his great distress.
2/7/96 – Sean did ‘cookery’ at his summer school. Pauline took Sean, Susanna and Olivia swimming in the afternoon.
3/7/96 – Sean, as part of his summer school, had a sports day in Marley Park, where he apparently won the hoop race.
4/7/96 – Sean and his summer camp went swimming; Laura had a céili.
5/7/96 – Pauline and Serena arrived – Serena is not quite 15, and seems very mature. She has less English than Laura, and less interest in learning it … [later] Her Aunt Lucy rang from Rome to ask what we thought of her and whether she was any trouble, which seemed a bit ominous.
9/7/96 – Pauline put the finishing touches to Sean’s Buzz Lightyear costume for the fancy dress at his summer school – she had painted it last night … [later] When Sean got home from school he was highly excited, having won a prize for his costume. This was great, as there were only four prizes between 100 or so kids.
12/7/96 – Pauline told me a funny story – when we were all going out to the phone on Sunday Sean got there first and was shouting into the phone, to Olivia’s amusement, ‘Oh Laura! I love you, Laura!’
15/7/96 – Pauline took Sean and Susanna to the park – Sean is fully on holidays now.
16/7/96 – Pauline and the kids had a great day on the Silver Strand – big waves and warm water.
18/7/96 – Pauline collected Billy and took the kids to St Enda’s Park for a nature trail, which seemingly was very good.
21/7/96 – In town, we bought a shift dress for Susanna for the wedding, to Aileen’s precise instructions. Susanna on being told of this plan – ‘But me not want to get married today’ (in tears).
22/7/96 – Pauline is illustrating and pasting up a story for the kids that she typed on the computer as an aid to Sean’s learning to read.
24/7/96 – I drew lines on the map and we talked about where we might like to move to. The south-east – more or less south of a line drawn from Youghal to Gorey – and the Galway city/north Clare area are the front runners.
25/7/96 – Pauline has taken Sean, Susanna, Olivia and Billy to a butterfly farm in Straffan on an ICT outing.
27/7/96 – We spent most of the morning getting things ready for Sean’s party, which commenced at 3 … Sean got a lot of presents and they ate and played out the back –fortunately, it was a nice day.
28/7/96 – Sean’s fifth birthday – an anticlimax, perhaps, after yesterday, although he got several more presents.
29/7/96 – We all – including Olivia – walked to 23 Broadford Lawn, the house selling a second-hand trampoline. Pauline and I inspected the trampoline and decided to buy it as a birthday present for Sean. Then we carried it home, and the kids bounced on it till bedtime.
30/7/96 – The trampoline is a big hit with Sean, Susanna, Olivia and Andrew.
3/8/96 – Susanna and I walked up Grafton Street and around Temple Bar, listening to a lot of buskers, then went to the Brazen Head, where we had a couple of drinks each and shared a plate of chips … We went back into town and listened to some more music, Susanna amusing a couple of Spanish women in Grafton Street by insisting on giving more money to Dermot Byrne.
4/8/96 – I took Sean, Susanna and Olivia to town on the bus. It was a lovely hot sunny day. We went to MacDonald’s and then had a drink in O’Brien’s of Leeson Street. They played around in front of the Central Bank for a good while, then we got a bus home.
7/8/96 – June took Billy and Sean to see The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which Sean enjoyed greatly, and he also had dinner in their house.
8/8/96 – Pauline collected Billy in the morning, and they, Sean, Susanna, Aileen, Andrew and Olivia went to get a bus into town – they’re going to an ICT outing at the National Gallery.
11/8/96 – In the afternoon we all went into town and visited the Natural History Museum, which was good.
14/8/96 – We checked into the Atlantic Hotel in Lahinch … Sean and Susanna were very good. Sean was excited by the whole hotel experience.
15/8/96 – In the Burren we built some ‘houses’ from loose stones, adding to a number already constructed. Sean really enjoyed this. Then we drove through Ballyvaughan and other places, and on to Galway city. Pauline and I had half-expected to fall in love with some place and want to go and live there, but this didn’t happen.
16/8/96 – After breakfast we drove to Milltown Malbay and Spanish Point, where we spent several hours on the beach and the kids had a very good time. Then we drove on to Kilkee, and spent time on the beach there also.
17/8/96 – We left Lahinch and headed towards Nenagh. On the way we were quite impressed by Ennis – it’s a pity it’s not by the sea. Passed through Tuamgraney, Ogonolloe and such places, and decided we much preferred the lush, hilly landscape of East Clare to the barrenness of the west. At granddad’s, Sean and Susanna played the piano a lot.
18/8/96 – In the afternoon all five of us went to see the castle and then visited the heritage centre – good fun for the kids.
24/8/96 – I took Sean, Susanna and Olivia on a bus into town. They played outside the Central Bank for a while – Sean likes this better than any playground, I think.
26/8/96 – Pauline took Sean, Susanna and Olivua to Sandymount swimming pool. Sean is doing very well at the swimming, and can’t be stopped from diving into the water even though it’s against the rules.
27/8/96 – Sean is a little angel these days.
28/8/96 – Sean has a new schoolbag with which he is infatuated.