Wednesday 24 October 2018

My parents' friend, heroic champion of civil rights in Ireland

John Hume is a deeply serious man, recalls Emily Hourican, whose memories of him go back to her childhood

WISDOM: John Hume and Derry City. Picture: PA
WISDOM: John Hume and Derry City. Picture: PA

Emily Hourican

I have many memories of John Hume, going back much of my life - I was born in Belfast, in 1971, where my father, Liam, was RTE's Northern correspondent, and became a close friend and supporter of Hume's - but my favourite involves a giant tub of fish soup.

We were somewhere in Brittany, on holiday, around 30 years ago. We had come from our corner of the region to meet up with the Humes and the plan was to buy big containers of a fish soup from a little shop in the town, then go back to the house where the Humes were staying and have lunch. John, my dad and another man went into the shop to get the soup while we kids waited outside. They emerged, with a giant plastic tub of warm soup, which my father was carrying. In a hideous kind of slow motion, we watched as they bumped into a small boy - aged six, maybe seven, years old - and spilled the entire tub all over him.

Cue total consternation. The boy, although mercifully not burned, was howling; his parents were furious; my father was dabbing hopelessly at the steaming fishy mess with a small handkerchief and apologising profusely, while the other man - in my recollection, anyway - was laughing so hard he had to hide around the corner.

Please sign in or register with for free access to Opinions.

Sign In

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss

Editor's Choice