Dad’s Diary

One of my earliest memories is riding a horse through an Arcadian meadow with my father. I recall a deep feeling of happiness and safety in his presence, with his arms either side of me, holding the reins and keeping me safe. The scene was indescribably perfect, infused with a warm, golden light. It was…

Dad’s Diary

French campsites remain for me the archetypal holiday destination. It’s hard to describe the utter excitement we felt at arriving in France as children. The first time I left Ireland, in the early 1980s, was aboard a ferry which departed from just near my home in Cork. The ferry port was so close that we…

Dad’s Diary

To children, the summer holidays are infinite.  Once they begin, their pace of life slows. Mornings no longer involve wolfing down a bowl of cornflakes, followed by frantic searches for hairbrushes and missing parts of school uniforms. Time takes on a looser form, as the normally sharp distinction between weekdays and weekends suddenly disappears.  Soon,…

Dad’s Diary

What does it mean to educate a child? Too often, we conflate education with school. Yet education is a much broader concept. After all, children begin school already talking, sometimes in more than one language.  They arrive knowing games, rhymes, songs and stories, and perhaps counting and even reading a little. They may have learned…

Dad’s Diary

Photographs can pierce your heart. The other day I happened upon a photo of one of the girls taken about two years ago. It transported me back to that balmy summer’s evening, when just she and I had driven her to the top of the cliffs together for some “special time”. A warm, fragrant breeze…

Dad’s Diary

Being perpetually busy is a strange state of being. Like most working parents, there is always an epically long to-do list lurking somewhere at the back of my mind. The etymology of the word busy reveals something about the state of being busy. The word ‘busy’ comes from the Middle English word ‘bisig’, which at…

Dad’s Diary

My son sat in the front seat next to me as we drove westward. The silence was deafening as drove through the rolling hills of southern England. The reason things were so quiet was that we boys were on solo mission to bring a busload of our stuff from the Isle of Wight back to…

Dad’s Diary

My wife came in to my office with a sheepish look on her face. She said that my son’s friend had just called to the door, and had asked if he could go to the park to play. She confessed that she had said “yes” and that he was now gone – out into the…

Dad’s Diary

“But marshmallows are a St Patrick’s Day tradition!” my eldest daughter righteously insisted, aghast at my ignorance on the subject. “Don’t you remember, we all had giant marshmallows last year?” she asked in total incredulity. It was as though I had suddenly announced that I’d never heard that people bring little pine trees indoors and…

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…