The day my father’s false teeth got lost in the sea at Dollymount Strand
Family Fortunes: On his very first dive, John shot up from the depths holding his mouth
John Deane, on the right, with two of his colleagues in Tara Street fire station, Dublin, in the 1950s. 'Our father was a vain man and always prided himself in his appearance.'
We grew up on the seafront in Clontarf between the bus garage and the Bull Wall. It was an idyllic location with a clear view of ships plying their trade between Dublin and the rest of the world. We used to spend hours at the front bedroom window watching all the boating activity in our small part of Dublin Bay. The beach at Dollymount was our summer destination of choice for picnics, swimming and adventures.
My father, John, was a fireman and a well-respected character in Clontarf and regularly marched us and a few of our neighbours' children “pied-piper” like to the beach at Dollymount for a picnic.
One particular Saturday our family and three or four other neighbours' children headed for the beach. The sun was splitting the rocks (as it always did in those days) and we positioned ourselves on the sand close to the north side of the Bull Wall. The tide was “in”, so off to the water went my father leading the six young children while our mother kept watch on our clothes and arranged the picnic. John decided to teach us all how to dive.
About two hours after we arrived home John appeared with a temporary set of dentures
The water was up to his knees and our waists, and John showed us how to dive into the incoming waves. On his very first dive he shot up from the depths holding his mouth. He had lost his false teeth! That ended the perfect day. Without saying a word to anybody he dressed and headed for home. Our darling mother gathered all our stuff and we trudged back across the wooden bridge.
About two hours after we arrived home, John appeared with a temporary set of dentures. To say they were a poor fit would be an understatement. Our father was a vain man and always prided himself in his appearance. The temporary set of dentures was a disastrous fit so in a remarkable act of folly he decided to gather up some of the neighbours' children and we marched back down to the “dive site” armed with a couple of rakes, a spade and a borrowed sand riddle to search for the missing teeth. At the time it was an exciting adventure but there was never a chance of finding the lost teeth on the 7km of Dollymount beach. Five days later John was back in the game with a shining set of new teeth.