Ladies and Gentleman, girls and boys, it’s appropriate at a 70th birthday party to reflect for a few moments on the life and times of the birthday boy.
My childhood memories of Páid are naturally coloured by the fact that I had no other father as a comparison. It only occurred to me later that when I tried to explain his behaviour to friends, their bafflement must indicate that I was lucky enough to have a very singular father.
Usually the raised eyebrows started with names. Páid has lived all his life with a double persona, Páid in conversation, then Patrick J. as legal signature. Not content with his own brand of confusion, he gave all of his children unusual names, so that we have all learned to do some explaining when introducing ourselves. I had thought nothing of the tale that I shared a name with the school he had attended as a boy, right up to the point that someone commented that he must be reliving his childhood traumas through his son.
This of course couldn’t be further from the truth. Páid was always a great father, and that’s no mean feat when you have six children to feed, clothe and educate. I’d like to thank both Páid and Rosalie for the support and encouragement that enabled all six of us to complete a university education and find our own careers.
As for his qualities as a husband, I will always recall a particular quote from my mother: “If you become half the man your father is, you’ll be doing well”.
However I have a creeping suspicion that it was as a grandfather that he has found his true calling. Now rid of the responsibilities associated with feeding, clothing and educating, he can concentrate instead on the important aspect, namely play. And with grandchildren of every age from 11 downwards, there’s plenty of opportunity for him to crawl on the floor, paint faces and otherwise live up to his official family title of “grand-père mentale”.
Apart from his success in raising his family, Páid has of course had a very successful career as a civil engineer. As kids all we ever saw of his work were photos and plans from sewage plants, nothing that anyone could ever describe as glamorous. However I’m sure all of his colleagues here will attest that his 40 odd years of contribution and expertise in the Irish water engineering industry has been immense.
Nowadays everyone talks about work-life balance. Páid has for years been balancing his successful family and professional lives with a very active sporting and social life. Not of course sports involving running about after a ball, I think Peadar will concur that that sort of thing has never been big in his life. But whether it be bridge, sailing, Toastmasters, walking, pub quizzes, and in latter years skiing and alpine mountaineering, there is never a dull moment for this particular pensioner.
At 70, many people would accept their status as a pensioner and spend more time tending the roses. Páid is of course very grateful for the free bus and Luas ticket, which he fervently uses in order to reduce his carbon footprint. He is however far too stubborn to accept the biological laws of ageing, and has for many years now made a point of being in better shape than his contemporaries. As some of you know, Dad and I will celebrate our aggregate 110th birthday by attempting to climb Mont Blanc next year. Between the two of us, the smart money is on the Kilimanjaro veteran who also has the Tour of Mt Blanc and the Chamonix-Zermatt route under his belt, rather than the 40-year-old.
I’d like to wrap up by thanking the staff here at National for being so great, and my mother Rosalie for organising this party. I know she’d respond by thanking all of you for coming tonight.
With that I’d like to propose a toast to Páid.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Liam and Rosalie were thrilled today when Dieter Schumacher of www.schumacher-kindermoebel.de/ arrived to assemble their new bed. With a fireman’s pole, climbing frame, crane, steering wheel and swing attached, it’s more than just a bed for sleeping in.