Monday, 9 March 2009

Craigavon, my home

Maybe my blog, in its short history, hasn't been the place for overt politics, but it is tonight.
A policeman was shot dead in my home town of Craigavon tonight and I can't tell you how sad I am for him, his family and the area.
He was shot dead, doing his job, a mile from my parents' house in a housing development in fields around my school, Lismore, where I ran cross country and close to the pitches where I kicked points with our Martin and our cousins Eoin and Kieran the last time I was home.
He was assassinated near the school I'm going back to on Thursday, 18 years after I left, to give a seminar on journalism to 16-18 year old pupils.
This shooting has devastated the name of the wonderful place I grew up in and a wonderful place to go to school.
When I was growing up, Lismore was (and remains) a shining beacon of educational equality where you could achieve academically without going to many of the grammar schools that satellite Craigavon.
I would say that. My ma teaches at the school and I worked there at every level of staff from substitute teacher up to cleaning staff. My ma and da serve St Anthony's chapel as does my uncle Fergus and Auntie Pauline.
I still feel proud to represent Lismore and Craigavon every day of my life. It made me what I am. I feel ashamed to have run away from it and make a life elsewhere.
But much more than this, and contrary to news reports tonight, the Craigavon I grew up in was not a ghettoised place full of dissident Republicans.
In Drumgor Tavern, a mile from Lismore Manor, Prods and Taigs, Catholics and Protestants drank side-by-side. All the soccer teams I played for were mixed, the lads and women I served in the Goodyear Sports and Social Club were of mixed religious backgrounds.
Ultimately, this blog about Curtis Mayfield's bongo player or a Lloyd Cole lyric or a Bill Hicks punchline seems a trivial self indulgence full of complacency and hubris.
God bless him, whoever he was.


  1. Thoughts are with you and yours, Paddy. Really sad turn of events. I was just reading your piece out loud to Lana and got all choked up, like. Reminded me how A Woman of No Importance in Alan Bennett's Talking Heads caught me out the same way. Really hit home. I wouldn't beat yourself up about blogs on Curtis' bongo player. We need joy, too. Keep em coming.

  2. Just wait to I start on what's happening on regional newspapers in Britain, man, I'll have to blubbing into your Ditton hands. Went past the murder scene today on the way to my seminar, so poignant. But, everyone is united against the dissidents, it's great to see.

  3. word. Just occurred to me, Tony and I are Old Dittonians (ya gotta say it fast)