In September 1998 I boarded a train in Dublin to head west and start a new chapter in my life. Little did I know at the time that it was to be one of the most significant chapters, and not only did I glean an important college education over the next few years it was the lessons in life, love and loss that would prove most significant.
Within hours of starting college I met some of my best friends and wife (not that I had any idea that she would become my wife at the time) and the remainder of first year went by in a blur of Monday morning bus journeys to Achill, Thursday nights in the TF, a sprinkling of lectures all finished off with some late night study sessions and exams.
Along the way friendships blossomed and by the start of second year I had chosen to move in with 3 great guys. Paul the dark tanned outgoing ladies man, Ger the country lad who loved tractors and hurling and Eoin, the odd one out, the only one not studying Outdoor Education but his outgoing nature helped him fit right in.
With a Barman, Bouncer and DJ for house mates a few house parties were inevitable but the monster that grew and became “Club 79” took us all by surprise. Some of the biggest parties of the year, which took days of planning and even required security on the door, took place under the roof of our four bed semi and the 4 of us held minor celebrity status around town. The hard work of creating this party Mecca was rewarded with an award for party house of the year at the College Clubs and Societies ball, something which we celebrated with another party!
By the end of the college year we had cemented our friendships and as we went our separate ways for the summer we had big plans for the future and shared that invincible feeling of youth.
Little did we know that within 2 short years, what feels like a blink of an eye, Eoin would be taken from us. He was diagnosed with Cancer and although he fought hard, in the end he lost his fight and was laid to rest in a graveyard only a stone’s throw from his family home in the Connemara village of Carna in late August 2002.
When I set out today from Inismor for the Connemara coast I had thoughts of Eoin in my mind and when over my shoulder I spotted the graveyard where he is buried I diverted my course to check in with him. I paused just off the shore to ask, as he would have put it, “What’s the craic man?”
Moving on I could not help but wonder what he would be doing now, almost 10 years has passed and Paul, Ger and I have all moved on and remain great friends and no doubt we would have also remained close with Eoin. But what would he be doing now? Would he be gracing the airwaves with his own radio show as a top jock or would he have attained Super Star DJ status and be rocking the clubs of Ibiza, London and New York? One thing is for certain whatever he would be doing he would be doing it with style and with his unmistakable and unforgettable cheeky grin.
With lights winds and sunshine on my back I paddled off to Slyne head my mind filled with fond memories of those college days and the happy times we all shared.