This is Daire, my son. It’s not unusual for parents to be proud of their children, but I was thinking the other day you don’t know much about him, so here’s just a flavour of why I love him.
Daire is a co-founder with Paddy Cosgrave and David Kelly of the Web Summit. He’s a busy young man, dealing with the media and potential speakers, and always on the go. It’s a job that involves a fair bit of travel too, but always he stays in touch, usually by phone or else email. That he makes so much time for us is something we love about him. But it is only part of the bond between us.
I had always wanted children, so when Daire arrived we were thrilled. He was around two when we spotted that he was the image of myself before the accident. Daire had a brother, Alan, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and in the short time Alan lived Daire never complained about the time we had to devote to Alan. He would visit him when Alan was in hospital, and tried to include him in his daily life, although Alan couldn’t crawl, walk or talk. I loved that such a youngster would feel the love and pain we felt for his little brother. The experience and our willingness to talk to Daire about his brother and his poor chances of survival built a bond between us.
Daire was always wise beyond his years, just needing a bit of guidance every now and then. Trish was the one who ensured the kids did their homework and got the basics right while I was missing for the afternoon and night at work. I guess Daire thought my job was pretty cool working in the Examiner Editorial office. He learned about newspapers and how they worked and we’d discuss everything from politics to the technology. (I was an early convert to computers and the Internet.) He was good at school and never gave us a problem. Once he gave out to a teacher and I told him off and said he was to go back and apologise, which he did.
We laughed when he started running a shop at the entrance to our driveway, renting out videos and charging inflated prices for tiny cups of Coca Cola. But when we found out he was flogging No Smoking signs to the neighbours Trish was appalled. I persuaded her there was no harm, and that if the neighbours wanted to buy the signs well good luck to Daire!
He was always fascinated with the media, and has a great facility to remember names, something he certainly didn’t get from me. When he got involved in the Union of Secondary Students we weren’t a bit surprised. And when he was interviewed by Bryan Dobson on the Six One news we were thrilled. Amazing how quickly he moved from that publicity to writing a column for The Corkman.
We always encouraged Daire and Sarah Jane to talk at home. We listened to them, tried to give them honest advice and actively seek to hear their point of view. We weren’t afraid to admit we were wrong sometimes, and we were anxious that they knew we would always be there for them no matter what. And they talked, in fairness. It wasn’t unusual for some of our family chats to last into the early hours even during school time!
Daire had always wanted to study BESS (Business, Economics and Social Sciences) in Trinity and despite our reservations (financial mainly!) he rather cleverly asked me to attend an Open Day on the course with him. Well, I went up convinced he should do a degree in University College Cork, but returned to tell Trish the Trinity course was perfect for Daire. And it was.
It’s said by some that Daire and I are very close, and it’s true that on one strange night we completed each others’ sentences! Weird.
Just before he left for Trinity I asked Daire to make sure he stayed in touch. God did he keep his promise. It’s funny that while writing this blog Daire rang. I say this because one of the things we love about Daire is that he will always ring most days, whether he’s in New York, Hong Kong or Cuba. He is fantastic for contacting us. I remember he told me once that we had exchanged hundreds of emails while he was in Trinity, not to mention regular mobile calls. That says a lot about our relationship.
We didn’t have a whole lot of spare cash when Daire was in Trinity, and in his first year he wasn’t frequenting the best restaurants. One day we were chatting on the phone and I thought he sounded a little down in himself. Concerned, I told Trish I would go up to see how he was. So off I went on the train to meet a delighted Daire. We stopped at Cafe en Seine (my first visit) for a coffee and sandwich, and when I wondered where we would go next he suggested Dundrum Shopping Centre. I thought about it for two seconds and then asked if he’d like to go to lunch at L’Ecrivain. Would he what. He was on the phone straight away to get the number and then called to discover they had a place for us, so off we went for one of the most relaxing – and expensive – lunches I ever had. Of course Daire loved every moment and we returned there with more guests for his graduation.
Daire became president of the Philosophical Society at Trinity and proceeded to dazzle everyone with the quality of patrons they had that year, from Al Pacino to director Oliver Stone and US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsberg. He was thrilled, and Trish and I managed to attend some of the events. We were tremendously proud of Daire, who was learning pretty fast how to work the media. He learned even more when he worked as a researcher for Miriam O’Callaghan on two of her summer series and the first Brendan O’Connor TV series. He would often ring during those years to either give me updates on who was speaking or for advice on who he might ask. Those were very interesting years to watch Daire grow and hone his organisational and media skills. He was way out of my league at that stage, still anxious for my opinion. I loved him for including me,
Daire was always encouraging me to write a blog and tell the story of my life. He gives me the proverbial kick up the backside when I say I can’t do something – strange role reversal for a parent.
I went to the Web Summit a few years ago when it was a much smaller event, but it was lovely to see Daire in action, a busy man, but also taking time to ensure I was ok that day. When I went back last year he was kind enough to arrange for me to shake Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s hand (please, no jokes about Enda!).
I could write so much about Daire but it will have to await that book. I will say he is a terrific adviser, a wonderful friend and son. I couldn’t ask for more. Thanks Daire, I love you son.