Barry Egan

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - THE BIG STORY -

“At the time it seemed as if she had de­vel­oped some in­sight into her demons and was in­tent on pos­i­tively re­solv­ing them,” he an­swers. “As a child I did not ini­tially per­ceive that state­ment as a threat to take her own life if again hos­pi­talised. To­day I do.”

Alan knew that his mother had said this be­fore, that she never wanted to go back to another hos­pi­tal, and put it to the back of his mind. What’s more, the day af­ter, on the Sun­day, Elaine ap­peared “to buck up” re­mem­bers Alan. For the next cou­ple of days, ev­ery­thing in the Shat­ter home was “nor­mal”. Un­til it wasn’t. De­cem­ber 21 — the Tues­day — Alan, who had been out play­ing on the road with his pals for the morn- ing, had come back to the house for a short while be­fore get­ting the 16 bus at 1pm to meet his dad in town for lunch. His mother, who was in, he re­mem­bers, “a cheer­ful hu­mour”, had of­fered to drive him into the city for the lunch at Switzer’s on Grafton Street, “but as usual she chose to stay at home”. This was to prove sig­nif­i­cant.

Af­ter a lovely lunch with his dad, Alan went to see his Aun­tie Ger­tie in Grafton Jew­ellers be­fore pot­ter­ing around a nearby book­shop to look at Christ­mas an­nu­als (he re­mem­bered flick­ing through a foot­ball an­nual with an ar­ti­cle on his pre­cious team, Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur FC).

The lights of Grafton Street twin­kling with the magic of the Christ­mas sea­son, Alan started for home at roughly 3pm. It was a “dry, cold, sunny af­ter­noon”, so Alan ran the two miles home rather than take the packed 16 bus again. He was look­ing for­ward to see­ing his mother be­cause she had been in good form when he left at 1pm.

He had a sur­prise for her, too. There was a bread strike in Dublin’s shops and su­per­mar­kets in De­cem­ber, 1964. Aware that the lo­cal bak­eries were still mak­ing bread, Alan ran to the bak­ery be­side Leonard’s Cor­ner in Harold’s Cross and bought his beloved mum a bread stick — “her favourite” — and ran on to­wards home.

Just as he reached Terenure vil­lage, the 16 bus swept pass. In hind­sight, Alan says now that had he got the bus he would be home to his

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