Tag Archives: Cavan

Five years


Sean, it is five years today since you died. These have been the saddest and strangest years of my life.

There were rivers of tears in the early days—the tears are less frequent now. Back then every minute of every day was a terrible weight.

Your mum and I came through the extreme desolation—and the snow and ice—and into a phase where loss was an ever-present ache, but less raw.

I wrote about you: poems, songs, your favourite music, extracts from old diaries, your sporting interests, your extraordinary personality.  After three years I seemed to have written all that was worth writing. Some things are unsayable, but I still speak to you every day.

We are strong and resilient. You would be proud of us for that. We have tried to live the right way. You inspire us with vivid memories of how you were. In April 2010 you told us that you had learned a lot about yourself in the previous six months, and we knew it was true. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the past five years.

We have changed. The channel of our humanity deepens and widens as life continues to flow through it. Though we love this world, we are not afraid of dying.

You would be hugely proud of your little sister. Susanna has been incredibly brave and determined. She has set high goals and achieved them all. It has not been easy, but her good humour and sense of fun are as contagious and lovable as ever. She has been out in the world and found lovely people there. She is a shining star, just like you.

We enjoy talking about you with your friends when we have an opportunity, either in real life or online: the light you gave off is still being reflected, although the source has gone; we like to glimpse it where we can. Many things we didn’t know about you till after you died; many photos we hadn’t seen. You are still in many minds.

Between ourselves, we talk about you often. We think about you all the time. Your life and memory are not stored in some compartment; they are in the air we breathe.

You helped us find out things we didn’t know. You and Susanna showed the world to us. Being with you was always an adventure. We were partners in discovery.

This year we went abroad and met a lot of new people; we got to know people in Ireland through new connections. You would be delighted about that: you always encouraged us to socialize and make friends; something you did as naturally as breathing, it seemed. You would have been proud of me for being invited to the conference in Canada.

No year is as good, though, as when we had both our children. No year ever will be.

As I wrote the first Christmas without you—you are a hero to me, and I will love you always. Thanks again for the 7021 days.



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Daffodils and dry-stone walls

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A successful weekend


We had a busy weekend. The local Ramor Inn Golf Society had very kindly decided to dedicate its annual fundraising effort this year to CRY Ireland, in memory of Sean.

Susanna arrived home from France on Friday; we were joined later that day by Mary, Aoife and Liam. There was a quiz and raffle in the pub, and a ‘corner session’ afterwards with Caroline, Seán, Noel, myself and others banging out a few tunes and songs. It turned out to be a late night.

The golfers were up and out early on Saturday morning, at Virginia Golf Club. We stayed at home most of the day, and watched the rugby – a great game, notwithstanding Ireland’s narrow defeat to England.

Pauline, Liam and I went to the pub again that night, and met up with many of our friends. There was music and a raffle.

When all the money was counted, it turned out that €2,520 had been raised for CRY. We are delighted with this, and very grateful to all those who made it happen or helped in any way, and the local community who supported it so generously. It was a fitting tribute to Sean’s memory, and will go towards preventing the sudden death of other young people. Sean would be pleased and proud.


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Rugby trip 2007

Published in The Anglo-Celt, 3 May 2007 (no byline, but written by me; this is an edited version). This was the last serious rugby Seán ever played – he was 15 years old, and played at full-back.

Sean with blistered feet before the Swindon match, 14 April 2007, Portsmouth

Sean with blistered feet before the Swindon match, 14 April 2007, Portsmouth

The Cavan under-14 and under-16 squads, with their coaches and helpers, travelled to England on Friday, 13 April to represent Ireland in the South Coast Rugby Festival, a massive event involving 4,000 young players.

Cavan were based at the Butlin’s holiday camp in Bognor Regis and played their matches at Portsmouth Rugby Club, where the recent fine weather had made the pitches as hard as concrete.

On Saturday the under-16s played three matches, against Westcombe Park A, Swindon and Portsmouth. Cavan, with a squad of just 17 players, were at a disadvantage from the start. They lost to a second-half try against Westcombe Park, but really got into their stride against Swindon and led 1–0 [scoring was in tries only] at half-time thanks to a great solo try from winger Conor Kelly and an incredible try-saving tackle by hooker Niall Gaffney. Continue reading

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Diary of Sean O’Brien, aged eight

Pauline found an old diary of Sean’s in the attic recently, from 1999–2000, when he was eight years old. It has just four written entries, as well as a 20p coin stuck on a page, and some loose-leaf drawings by himself. I suspect that he asked me for help with some of the spellings early on.

We moved house the Friday after he started it, and it may have been mislaid for a while – he resumed it, briefly, the following April; his beloved Grandad, Peter, had died in the meantime.

One of the drawings is of a bird, probably an eagle, perched on a cliff and outlined against a large sun. It is signed Sean O’Brien 10/12/99 and in a corner is written, in an adult hand, 1st Prize. Pauline remembers that it was done for a Community Games competition in Virginia, but Sean never got the prize because he lived outside the area and should have entered a more local competition. Still, she remembers, he was very happy that he had won. Sean always liked to win.


It’s Friday the tenth of Dec 1999. I have had a hard days work at school and was happy to get home. I played a game of monopoly with Daddy. He won by miles even though I said that I would win him. I Had pizza for lunch and after I had apple pie and ice-crem. Christian (a boy in my class) won a competition today and will be getting an award on Tus the 14th of Dec. My girlfriend is Elaine she dosn’t know that so shhhhhh! She has black hair and white skin. She is beautiful and I am going to mary her. And have children together. Today I went to micel Fagan and the hole school was chering for me. I was capten of my team. We won by miles. The final score was eight nill. All the Enmes where girls including Ela oh! I can’t say it. All my team where boys. Hear is an e.g. of a twenty peas coin. It is dated 1999. Continue reading


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A Night for Sean … 28 July 2012

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Friends and family turned out in force to celebrate what would have been Sean’s 21st birthday. A great night, and €560 raised for CRY. Many thanks to all concerned.


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Sean and Deanna

A nice picture posted elsewhere by Sean’s friend Deanna this week … we hadn’t seen it before.

I well remember all the potholes on the long, winding lane to Deanna’s house when I used to drop Aaron and Sean there. Happy days.

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Ramor Theatre exhibition

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On 23 March, the Ramor Theatre in Virginia showed a programme in the Lesser Spotted Ulster television series that featured Virginia. The theatre used a photo of Lough Ramor taken by Sean to publicize the event in its brochure.

When the photo’s provenance was pointed out, the theatre offered to hold a small exhibition of Sean’s photos of the Virginia area to coincide with the Lesser Spotted Ulster showing. We had five of them nicely framed, and they were hung in the theatre (as it happens, a reflection of a stained-glass window by Pauline is visible in one of them).

The Ramor Theatre has offered to hold a more extensive exhibition of Sean’s work in the future.


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Beating Heart, sung by Martina and Timmy

I hope you like it.


March 12, 2012 · 1:09 pm

Ballad group

Jim, me, Caroline, Padraig and Noel, onstage in Drumavaddy, 9 February 2012.

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