Showing posts from January, 2022

Fírinne an scéil

Time to digest and reflect.  Two years ago, when I started writing about the 1960s, I was not interested in bringing readers on a nostalgia-rich visit to the golden age of my youth. Yes, it was great to be alive back then and my memories of the sights, sounds and smells of that time were a resource I would have been foolish to ignore.  Memory can be fickle though. Some moments stand out in my mind, but others are lost forever. My very first memory is of gazing at the smoke from my father’s cigarette as it swirled around the ceiling of our living room. Another is from a few years later when I stood beside my mother in Parkgate Street and watched in wonder as the limousine bearing US president John F. Kennedy passed by only yards away. Given the historical significance of Kennedy’s visit to Ireland, and his tragic death a few months later, it is no surprise that I should recall that day in June 1963. But why has the apparently trivial sight of those tobacco fumes stayed with me? And what


I don’t think I ever saw a doctor when I was a child. Maybe it was the cost, or perhaps we regarded doctors and the medical establishment with suspicion and fear. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” was a familiar saying. It never motivated us to eat healthily. But that maxim was a reminder to keep doctors at a distance. Occasional childhood illnesses were usually treated with some hideous-tasting medication purchased from a local pharmacy (and maybe a few days off school). One of my fondest memories is having the mumps and being in bed for several weeks while my cheeks deflated. I spent the time reading Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby from cover to cover. Bliss. Although childhood vaccinations were pretty common when I was a boy, even they did not bring me fully into the medical orbit. In fact I can’t remember ever being jabbed when I was a youngster. For instance I did not have any of the tell-tale pimples on my upper arm which were a side effect of the BCG shot. This was a popular va