‘Daddy, there’s a bomb scare’
Pól Ó Muirí
“Daddy, there’s a bomb scare,” and, within seconds, my little nine-year old daughter, peace process child, has reminded me (born 1965) of west Belfast, the Troubles and a life I thought we had almost left behind. She is learning the dialect of my youth. Yes, there have been other moments for her and the other children over the years but my wife and I have done our best to shelter them from those dark moments. But she is learning that old language of fear that was part of my childhood. “There’s a bomb scare,” she says, “that’s why mummy was late picking us up last night.” And there it is – parent and scare – in one horrible sentence. She knows something is not right.
She has brown eyes like me but much, much deeper. I call her “súile seacláide” in Irish – “chocolate eyes” – because they are so dark. “Don’t worry, súile seacláide,” I say, “I know another way.” And there begins lesson number two in the old language of fear, “the other way”, ducking and diving your way through “safe” streets and avoiding others.
I pack them all up in the car, we say our morning “Hail Mary” in Irish for a safe school run and head off into another grey, dirty Northern day.