A dad who always made sure to catch the small moments but left too early

Family Fortunes: A happy man who loved to take photographs but died too young

My Dad in 1945: ‘Sitting cross legged with two small boys, each one imitating your pose, each one clutching a hurley’

My Dad in 1945: ‘Sitting cross legged with two small boys, each one imitating your pose, each one clutching a hurley’

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In this photograph you’re happy, sitting cross-legged with two small boys each one imitating your pose, each one clutching a hurley. The boy on the right is my brother wearing wire rimmed glasses, squinting at the camera. The other boy, his cousin one year older than him, smiling directly at the camera and full of pride.

I didn’t play hurling, that was a boys’ game, but you talked to me, listened, recited poetry. I remember If by Rudyard Kipling. Years later, long after you were gone, I learned it off by heart and it became my party piece.

You were full of quips and turns of phrase, riddles, spoonerisms that made us laugh: “Bring in the bilk mottles. Where’s the shee of the ked?”

But you had words of wisdom too.

“You can and you must and you will.”

“There’s nothing good nor bad but thinking makes it so.”

I saw you as a happy man, a man who had no time for nonsense. You cycled to work every day in College Green on a push bike wearing a Sherlock Holmes cape, bicycle clips on your trouser legs. And you a manager in head office. My mother squirmed but nevertheless she held on to the car for her trips to town or afternoon tea with her friends.

You died young, a sudden heart attack they said. My mother blamed the bank, too much stress in your job. I knew no better, but wondered. At 16 I could see the cracks.

“Be kind to your mother,” you used to say “try to understand her”.

At 16 a role reversal? I couldn’t say what I thought, only wonder about you and how you covered up, bore the strain, tried to be all things to all men. A funny man, a wise man, a man I never really got to know, someone very special I experienced in my life. Someone who moulded my sensibilities, left a legacy of kindness, a dark shadow of concealment.

Photography was your greatest hobby. You brought your camera with you everywhere, a great big, bulky thing with zoom lens and a timer, you’d set it up on a tripod, run back to join us, counting out the seconds. Snap. Catching the special moments in our lives with you in black and white, leaving them with us forever.

Did you know?

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