Dad’s Diary

“You’ve got your hands full.”  That phrase is apparently the new “hello”. At least, that is what random strangers typically say to me on the street by way of greeting. I suppose it’s not an altogether inaccurate statement of the obvious. Particularly as I rush down the road – late for school again – with…

Dad’s Diary

One of the great contradictions of parenthood is that you, at once, want your children to acquire knowledge, and you want to protect them from knowledge. After all, protecting children’s innocence means deliberately keeping certain types of knowledge from them. Ever since the Garden of Eden, we have equated increased knowledge with paradise lost. We…

Dad’s Diary

My wife and I are like ships in the night –weary ships, that need a long spell in dry dock for repairs. We are incessantly commanded on strange, but urgent, midnight missions by capricious miniature admirals: babies, small children and viruses. From the deepest dream, each night I might awaken to find the bedroom door…

Dad’s Diary

The strangest things happen when you find yourself without Internet connection for weeks on end. That is the situation I recently found myself in thanks to the incompetence of my broadband supplier, and the fact that our old farmhouse in west Cork is down in a valley, and has two-foot thick stone walls which serve…

Dad’s Diary

The lorry groaned as the enormous skip landed with a metallic thud on my driveway. This was going to be spring-cleaning on an industrial scale. Five years ago, a sudden job offer precipitated a hasty move to Dublin from our old farmhouse in West Cork. We had far too much stuff to take with us,…

Dad’s Diary

Our minibus was packed to the gunwales with four children, furniture, bedding, tools, clothes and toys. Hundreds of miles of road and two sea crossings lay ahead of us. I felt like writing ‘Cork or bust’ on the side of the bus. With my wife on maternity leave, and with my having the opportunity to…

Dad’s Diary

The kids had ‘World War I day’ in school last week, to mark the centenary of the armistice of 1918. The teachers arrived in Edwardian costume, and the kids were dressed in old-fashioned clothes, or dressed as nurses or soldiers. Most of the boys came dressed as soldiers and, inevitably, some shooting games ensued. The…

Dad’s Diary

It was a proud moment this week, watching my eight-year-old son tog out as captain of his school football team. He looked smart in his kit and even had an easy authority, as he casually directed his teammates, as he walked up to take the kick off. It seemed only yesterday that I was kicking…

Dad’s Diary

In the deepest dusk, I found myself in a Hampshire woods, reading the names of Irish holy women from their graves. Many of these departed nuns were born in the 19th Century, and had lived through times of great upheaval, war and conflict. It moved me to see my compatriots buried in exile, many long…

Dad’s Diary

“Ten years.” I found myself contemplating these words in awe and disbelief last week. Time had pulled its usual trickery. The day before yesterday, I was walking down the aisle with my new wife – then there was something of a busy blur – and suddenly a decade had passed, as if instantaneously. Ten years…