Today I am 61 ! There were sometimes in my life that I thought I would never get to this age. But I have and I am in the middle of a Gap Year and celebrating my birthday, with Nuala, on a boat in Munster in Germany. At this stage I am still not sure what I will do in the future but I am here and enjoying life.
There are many times in the past when I did not think I would ever live this long like the time Gerry Wilson and I, when driving to Dublin for a company board meeting in his sports car. We were hit by an ambulance that went out of control in Newbridge, which overturned, landed on our car and crushed it. We both managed to get out of the wrecked car unhurt except for Gerry cutting his finger. Or the time I got out of the Russell Court Hotel in Belfast just before a bomb went off (I was working in Northern Ireland in 1970s during the time there was civil unrest).
I have been fascinated by our trip through Europe from Tarmonbarry (Ireland) to Dover (England) across to Calais, then Paris to Strasburg (France) and then Munster and Berlin and the Berlin Lakes (Germany) .I have learned a lot from all the new experiences.
I feel very privileged to have lived the life I have. As I remind my kids, I grew up in Sligo in the West of Ireland in the 50s and 60s when Ireland was poor, inward looking and underdeveloped. (My kids still don’t really believe me that when I tell them, that when I was a child, milk was delivered door to door by the local farmer with a horse and cart. The milk was still warm and each bottle had a thick layer of cream on the top) .
During my life time, Ireland and Europe, have improved so much, that I have been able to get from that closed environment to having a Gap Year in a free Europe. We are now able to travel freely and safely (we have not been stopped once for our passports or identification papers for the boat) and it is truly a blessing.
Sure I have had my share of troubles and misfortunes, both in my working and personal life, the same as everyone else who lives or has lived on this Earth but I hope I have learned from them and am a more caring and tolerant person.
So today I would like to thank all the people who have made this life possible. Nuala especially, and my friends, my parentd, my sister, my children, my former wife Enid and my extended family (both Nuala’s and mine). So you can all raise a glass with me today in celebration of a wonderful life.