Tag Archives: Ireland

Five years

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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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Paul Gallagher RIP

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Yesterday was a sad day for Pauline and me, as we travelled to Strabane for the funeral of her cousin, Paul Gallagher, who died in New Zealand on 2 November – he was cremated there and his ashes were sent home for burial.

I first met Paul when he called to the small flat in Harrington Street, Dublin that Pauline and I shared in 1982/83. Paul, ever sociable, had a couple of his Strabane friends with him, and we gave them toasted sandwiches. He later told Pauline that one of the things he liked about calling on us was that we always fed him well, whereas elsewhere he might get only a tea and a biscuit! Continue reading

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A year in Ireland – 1742

 

  • On 8 March, William Crotty, highwayman and outlaw of the Comeragh mountains in Co. Waterford, is tried at Waterford and later hanged, drawn and quartered, having apparently been betrayed by an associate named David Norris. According to legend, Crotty’s wife later commits suicide by leaping from a great height while being pursued by soldiers.
  • Others who die in 1742 include Hugh Boulter, Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh and political power-broker, and John Waller, member of parliament for Doneraile, of whom the lines were written: ‘Who is this hell-featured brawler? Is it Satan? No! ’tis Waller.’
  • On 13 April Handel’s Messiah has its first public performance (conducted by the composer), at Neal’s Music Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin, before an audience of 700.
  • In August, Jonathan Swift is found to be ‘a person of unsound mind and memory and not capable of taking care of his person and fortune’ by a commission of lunacy composed of twelve Dublin tradesmen.
  • Russborough House (Co. Wicklow), designed by Richard Castle, is built. The inland section of the Newry navigation, on which work had commenced in 1731, is completed: this is the first commercial canal in Britain or Ireland, and is originally intended to bring coal from the Tyrone coalfield to Dublin. Castle has also been involved in its design.
  • Another famous architect, James Gandon, is born on 20 February. He will design some of Dublin’s most famous buildings, such as the Custom House and the Four Courts. Clotworthy Skeffington (2nd Earl of Massereene), who is born on 28 January, will spend nearly 20 years in debtors’ prisons in France until liberated by a mob in July 1789. The lawyer, orator and politician Walter Hussey Burgh is born on 23 August.

 

 

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Days

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On Sunday, Pauline, Susanna and I went to a service at Virginia College – part of its 50th anniversary events – to commemorate former pupils and staff who had passed on. At one point the school choir sang the old Kinks song ‘Days’. In that setting it was very emotional, for me at least. Continue reading

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Beating Heart, sung by Martina and Timmy

I hope you like it.

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March 12, 2012 · 1:09 pm

Some diary entries … September to November 1998

Sean and Itsy

1/9/98 – While we were eating some pizza for dinner, two wagtails flew into our bedroom window: one soon died; I put the other in a hedge where it may have survived.

2/9/98 – We had to wake Sean and Susanna in the morning for their first day at their new school. Pauline dressed them in their grey uniforms and took photos … [Later] Sean and Susanna both enjoyed their first day – Pauline had worried about Susanna because she cried a bit this morning on arrival, perhaps a bit confused. Sean, typically, ‘completely loves’ his teacher … While the kids were playing at Sinead’s, Pauline and I had a long walk around by Lurganboy. It was a beautiful evening, and the country landscape was lovely. We saw a fox running in a field, playfully (it seemed) trying to catch birds.

3/9/98 – Very happy to be living in the country – it’s so beautiful. Continue reading

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