Got a call last night to tell me my grandmother Sarah’s first cousin, Breada O’Callaghan, had died. Breada was 91, not a bad age to live to in the scheme of things. Her death is another link to my youth gone because when I was a lad I often called in to her and her husband Sean.

They were a lovely couple (Sean died a few years ago), always fussing over me whenever I turned up on their doorstep. Breada called me Tommy Joe (My full name is Thomas Joesph Francis), which used to drive me mad because I wanted to be Tom. She was a bit like Mrs Doyle in Fr Ted, forever putting the kettle on for a cuppa and ensuring I always got a plentiful supply of biscuits and cakes to go with it. I always loved visiting them and her three girls. There was always a warm welcome for a shy little boy unsure of what the future held for him.

As I grew up my visits became more intermittent, but it was Sean who got me my first job in a joinery works. I don’t think I ever thanked him enough as I had been out of work for months after finishing school.

What I especially liked about them was their friendship with my grandmother. Breada and Sarah were always off to bingo together twice a week and never seemed short of a word of conversation whenever they met – something that always fascinated me. They would often call for her and bring her home as Sarah grew older, which was very nice as we were miles out of their way then, far from the city centre.

Sarah was 17 years older than Breada, but you’d never think so when they were in each other’s company. There was definitely no generation gap. And when Sarah became more infirm in her 80s and her mind wandered, Breada and Sean would turn up to mind her for a few hours while mum went out. Great, great people Sean and Breada.

I’m working this evening so can’t make the removal, but tomorrow morning I’ll take mum to the funeral and we’ll pay our respects to a dear cousin and friend. I’ll root around at home later and find a picture to accompany this. May she rest in peace.