This article is taken from Stand 231, 19(3) September - December 2021.

Noel King Black Socks
It was too much for my child to picture: that my husband, her father was away for months at a time; what the Irish Peace Keeping Forces were; where The Lebanon was. I tried my best, bit by bit, searched the library for books where a small child’s parent goes away for long periods.

In school at seven or eight, thank God, she was taught about the Irish Peace Keeping Forces Abroad and there was another girl whose father had the same career. It put everything in context really. The two girls were, oddly enough, treated like heroines by association.

We used go cycling, Eileen and I, in Killarney National Park, beside our home. I took her in the basket on my bike at first, later with her on her tricycle, later still, she had her own bike, with stabilizers at first and then without, and eventually, her first ‘big’ bike. In her teens, fair play to her, she went off by herself or with her friends.

She was a clever girl, our Eileen. When she did the entrance exam for Secondary School she came 12th out of the 611 pupils sitting it. The girl next door came only 75th. Eileen posted a photocopy of the results over to her father in whatever country he was in at the time. That was all over forty years ago now.

Eileen comes to see me every day. She talks to me, touches me. But I don’t talk back. I can’t talk you see. Can’t write ...
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