Summer Snaps: Make-believe days and a haircut for grandad

This was taken in 1993 on my summer holidays. They were magical days

Aoibhín O’Malley, right, and her sister Gráinne

Aoibhín O’Malley, right, and her sister Gráinne


This was taken in 1993 on my summer holidays with my sister Gráinne on the swing my dad built among a sea of daisies in our garden in Clontarf, Dublin. Gráinne was two and I was six.

They were magical days. One day we were lost princesses with crowns of daisies, the next it was playing shop, and a carefully selected cast of children played by teddy bears. One of our neighbours recently informed me I always insisted on playing mammy.

Then there was the afternoon we played Mass and ate gooseberries as Holy Bread and we heard raucous laughter from across the garden wall.

Our parents took time off with us in August, and we were lucky enough to go camping in France and to Disneyworld. Another year they rented a cottage in Rosses Point, Co Sligo.

Our grandparents, aunts and uncles minded us during the summer too. My granny took us on a mystery tour of a graveyard in Monaghan – we didn’t sleep much that night. We spent countless happy days negotiating the hill of Howth with my uncle like it was our own Everest.

One of our aunts took us on a day trip every summer, starting with a full Irish breakfast in Brown Thomas, a wander through Hodges Figgis, a visit to the Wax Museum, which was then on Parnell Square, all finished off with afternoon tea at the Gresham.

When I look back at my childhood school holidays, it’s not just the excitement of being told we were going on holidays or meeting Mickey and Minnie in Disneyworld or the buttery croissants from the boulangerie at the campsite that I remember. It is the people who gave us those memories, especially my grandad James, who fell asleep watching us while completing the Irish Times crossword. We had the brilliant idea of cutting his hair like Mr Smee did for Captain Hook in Peter Pan. My granny still reminds mum about that day.

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