Monday 22 July 2019

Moving on to a new adventure

Just shy of seven years ago I arrived at the People Newspapers office. The good woman was expecting our first child, at any moment, and we had decided to leave the bright lights of Dublin behind, to raise our family at a less hectic pace.

I was one day into the new job, when the young lad arrived. That same week, I was asked to write a weekly column for this newspaper.

Since then, there have been approximately 350 contributions, and this week, before I wrote my final few lines, I took a look back through the columns that have inadvertently documented our particular lives over the past seven years.

On the odd occasion, there were serious issues that needed debating.

The economic crash featured now and then, as did the likes of Josef Fritzl, the Austrian man who held his daughter captive in the basement of his large family house. From Fritzl to the Olympics in China and the human rights issues raised by the decision to hold the event in Beijing, and from governmental elections to the rising problem of child obesity in this country, there was always, and always will be, an abundance of hard news for columnists to comment on.

I had a few hairy moments with readers too. Batt O'Keeffe, the once Minister for Education, reacted furiously to a piece on the effect of cutbacks on children with special needs; I also got a ribbing for my 'unfair' assessment of the characters in the TV series 'Sex and the City'.

And I once received a call from a person standing in the harbour at Rosslare to tell me a terrorist I had featured (it was actually a picture of a Quaker) was about to get on the boat.

There have been some deaths of well-known figures that deserved tributes too; the late RTE presenters Colm Murray and Gerry Ryan being two of them.

I have also been fortunate to interview a pool of fascinating characters down through the years. The one that stands out most in my mind was Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi – definitely first on the list of ideal dinner-party guests. The great footballer John Giles was fascinating company too, and a gentleman.

But most of the columns were inspired by three people, the three people that I get to spend every day of my life with and I want to thank them, collectively, for being the perfect muse.

The antics of the good woman, the young lad and the younger lad are what keep me laughing, and sane, everyday, in this ever-testing world. They can breathe easy now, there is no more danger that what they get up to will 'be in the paper', provided they stay on the right side of the law. Hopefully, you have enjoyed reading about the various adventures and scrapes that we have got ourselves into.

From next week, I take up a new position with the Ireland's Own magazine, and look forward to the fresh challenge. To those of you that have stuck with my ramblings down the years, thank you. To Karen (the good woman), Jack (the young lad) and Harry (the younger lad) I thank you too – I never had too far to search for material to write about.

With that I wish the best of health and happiness to you all.

Here's to the future, and whatever is around the next corner. Shea Tomkins

New Ross Standard