Some fifty five years ago, I was seven, and while on a
family holiday in Killala Co Mayo, my parents bought me, after much whining on
my part, a full diving kit consisting of snorkel, mask and fins.
The memory of my first diving equipment is clear. Blue
rubbery type plastic, but not modern pliable rubbery plastic, the old stuff, that
was almost as unflinchingly non-malleable as the material used in the making of
The other day, I heard the song ‘Only a Rose’, sung by the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling and while I listened, I was transported backwards in time to the early 1970’s, when my mother and I would listen to ‘Your Choice and Mine’, a weekly half hour Opera show on RTE radio, presented by the incomparable Tommy O’Brien.
Ever since the early Viking
settlers built wooden quays at the dark pool on the river Liffey, Dublin’s
future as an important trading city, of the Norse empire, the native Irish and
then the Norman and British empires, and now for the Irish again, seemed
The river was straight and
navigable for several miles inland, making it an ideal artery, first for
carrying raiding parties and then for trade.
After the expulsion of the
Norse men in the eleventh century, Dublin while not yet the capital, was the
east coasts most important trading hub.
When I joined the FCA (An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil) Local
Defence Force in 1970, I was just fourteen. The rules in those days were
somewhat flexible. I should have been seventeen, so the officer with whom I
filled out my application forms in Griffith barracks on the S. Circular Rd,
told me to put 1953 down as my year of birth.
Did I look seventeen when I
was actually fourteen? Did I hell !
It was like a kick in the stomach when
I received a BBC alert on my phone last year in April, telling of the fire at
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The Great Rose
I felt physically sick watching the
news reports as the spire collapsed and the fire consumed those ancient timbers
and who knows how much irreplaceable artwork. The drone shot of the entire
cathedral roofless and blazing from end to end filled me with despair. I
thought it was a total loss.
It was in October 1979, that
over a foggy winter weekend I drove my bosses, 80% seatless Peugeot 604, crammed to the roof with dress jewellery, from A Ltd., the consignor, to A SARL , the consignee, in Rantigny, France
about 60 km north of Paris.
I was the manager of the
Ro-Ro and Deep Sea Export Department in R Ltd., based in South West Dublin.
The closer we get to a no-deal Brexit, with its implicit threat of a border, either hard, around the six counties of Northern Ireland, or wet down the Irish Sea, the more my dock running PTSD affects me.
Hard or wet, the imposition of a border between Ireland and Britain, means the re-imposition of customs formalities, hence my Post Traumatic Stress Disorderdness..