When I was 15

This was not the greatest year of my life.

There were several crappy events that meant that 1985 was never going to be a stand out year.


In early April my little Cousin died suddenly at the age of 11. This had a major impact on the whole family and I still remember it vividly and not in a good way.

It happened on a weekend when I had been away on camp with the scouts and we had spent the whole night lying awake in our tent smoking,talking and listening to a pirate radio station playing clouds across the moon by the Rah Band.

I also lost my father in October. Not lost as in a pair of gloves but lost as in died suddenly at the age of 51 of a heart attack.

I can’t say much about it but if you were one of 6 kids and had to shoulder your father’s coffin at the age of 14 it sticks with you. You learn to cope but it’s not a life experience I’d recommend to most people.

That said, the family 2 doors up lost their mother in March and they had 11 children ranging from less than 1 year old to 14.

Makes Angela’s Ashes look like a stroll in the park.

The only high point of 1985 took place 2 weeks before my father died.

The Golden Pencil had picked a fight with the class bully in his year. The fight was scheduled for a Friday afternoon in the school handball alley.

After about 5 seconds of this Tyson versus McGuigan bout my brother had managed to get himself into a headlock and was having the shit beaten out of himself.

Now the etiquette of these sorts of fights was that you didn’t intervene as it was a matter of honour between the two in the fight. That said, my brother was not a great judge of his own strength (or lack thereof) and had been fished out of more than one hole by me in the past. (Not that I  was any great shakes myself)

Anyway, we’re 5 seconds into the prize fight and thinks are looking bad in the Cronin corner. I decided that the simplest solution was to take matters into my own hands – or onto my own foot. The official store was that I went to knee the other fella in the ribs but he moved and my foot caught him in the face.  Full on in the face. 6 stitches to his mouth in the face.

Fight over.

A long weekend of ‘saying nothing’ ensued. this was only brought to a head on Monday morning by the hearty back slapping of the other students telling me I was spot on as he’d had it coming to him for a long time (to be fair he was a bit of a cunt before this and did quieten down for the last 3 years of his time in the school) and the summonsing to the ‘Dean Of Discipline’s’ Office.

My parents were then summonsed to the school and, after a big summit with the headmaster, I escaped a suspension with a ‘full written apology’ to the boy with the sore face.

I remember sitting in the back of the car about a week before my father died. The summer of 1985 had been particularly shit and there had been a great indian summer that year. It was a warm sunny evening and my parents were having an argument about whether what I had done was right or wrong. My mother was basically saying that violence never solved anything and what I had done was wrong. My father said (and I think the Capuchin’s agreed with him) that if you didn’t stand up for your brother you weren’t much good as a person and so what I had done was right.

He told me later that he’d have done the same thing and that I’d done the right thing.

That was 1985.

My last as a child.


One response to “When I was 15

  1. Indeed. It was a bad year alright. Expelled from the scouts in Boyle for refusing to swim in a muddy lake in the rain. That said we got Hector and that ultimately led to Flossie. We also got an MSX from Cogan’s of Carrigaline,Take on Me by Aha was a hit in November and that Christmas I ate 15 packs of Tayto Cheese and Onion in one day. A feat that I often admire at Christmas time. 1986 was a bit better. A summer in Kanderstag. It was another wet summer though.

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