"....there will be new lives for us all...."
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Youth in Dublin
Civilian life in Singapore
Prisoner of War
A New Life
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A new life. That was what Joe wanted for his family. Once more he found himself embarking on an adventure into the unknown and once more he faced the unknown head on.

During the months Joe and Eilish looked for a permanent home they rented a house in Sandycove, a Dublin seaside suburb.

Nearby was the Forty Foot, a gentlemen’s bathing place, swimsuits optional, that caused amusement or curiosity amongst visitors.


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The James Joyce Tower, one of a series of Martello Towers built to withstand an invasion by Napolean, dominated the garden of their temporary home, “Rockfort”.

In 1904 the famous writer had stayed as a guest in the Tower and in 1949 it was young Dermot’s personal fortress.

Joe and Eilish, also looking for a fortress in a way, or certainly a place to keep them safe from harm, found what they were searching for in “Kilcoursey”, one of the Victorian homes they had so admired in their 1946 stay in Greystones. Situated near the golf course, surrounded by privet hedges and chestnut trees, the grand old lady offered a promise of contentment and security which the uprooted couple so dearly longed for. It was a place they could grow old in.

click to enlarge imageJoe had made a clean break with the “old firm” when they left Singapore and he established his own company in Dublin – Dunne & McKenna, dealing in office supplies.

He threw himself into the business with the same energy that had brought him through all the phases of his life and the little company prospered, providing the family with a renewed feeling of security.

The children’s schooling was of the utmost importance to Joe. Unie was happily living her schoolgirl life in England, and it was decided that she should remain there to avoid being uprooted yet again. Dermot was accepted as a boarder at Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit school in Co. Kildare, and life began to feel a bit more settled.

The years flew by and Joe watched his children growing into fine young adults. His dreams of providing a good education and the opportunity to use it were realized and he felt proud and happy.

Unie, always the artist, enrolled in an art college in Dublin having graduated from Trinity College with a Bachelor of Arts.

She dabbled in a bit of modeling but was ultimately drawn toward a career in travel and by 1960 she was one of the bevy of glamorous BOAC air hostesses jetting across the skies. Dermot, in the meantime, was studying at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.

Joe and Eilish felt happy in Greystones. Their children, now fully grown, were thriving, they had good friends and neighbors, and though life was quiet it was as they wished – they had had their fill of excitement!
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Life gives with one hand and takes away with the other. In 1962 Dermot married the beautiful Beattie Drum. Clever and bright and witty, with a compassionate heart and a sparkle in her eye, she became a second beloved daughter to Joe. The birth of his first grandchild the following year on his dearest little girl’s birthday brought him solace and joy in his pain – for Unie, at the age of 30, was dying.

On September 24th, 1963 a light went out in my grandparents’ world. The cancer, so bravely battled, won in the end, taking Unie from her doting parents.

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But my grandfather could not be broken. His amazing strength carried him through the worst of it, and, as ever, he looked to the future to survive. He kept going for Eilish, for Dermot, for Beattie and little Simon, and in time for me and for John.

We were the future, my brothers and I. We were what Gran’pa had fought for and nearly died for, what he had lived for. We felt his strength and love, and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt how much we meant to him.

In 1978 my grandmother died unexpectedly, leaving Gran’pa bereft after sharing half a century of life and countless dreams with her.

Somehow he pulled through and in his final years I believe my grandfather felt a certain peace and contentment in his life. He had been handed many a challenge which he had faced with bravery and overcome with dignity.

The garden was a great source of pleasure and he would potter for hours tending his roses, enjoying the luxury of gardening for its own sake, and not for survival.

He never spoke unkindly about those who had been so unkind, though he did have a glint in his eye as he told the tales of the rather dim Camp Guards being hoodwinked by the clever prisoners.

His laugh was infectious and our childish pranks, which must have been irritating, were greeted with good humour and indulgence. His fierce love of his own dear ones enveloped us all in a blanket of warmth.

December 26th, 1980 marked the end of an era for our family.
Gran’pa, our strength, our protector, the man of courage and humour, was no more.

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He died at the age of seventy three, much loved and sorely grieved.
His life was over - but it had been a Life well lived.

go to "The Magic Carpet Ride " Final Chapter >>

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