As the youngest of ten children born into a poverty stricken class and raised in less than ideal circumstances, I still reminisce of those early years that were so instrumental in forming the identity I have now as a man of twenty nine years. By the time I reached working age my father allowed me to accompany him to the old quarry which he had invested all his money in when times were better before I was born. My five older brothers had left home by the time I was eleven, no doubt to pursue careers that did not entail picking stones out of the ground which was a common chore when working alongside my father. He devoted all his spare time to my ‘core education’ which he imparted to me through obscure and seemingly endless philosophical stories and physical labourings of which now I still have difficulty in applying their relevance to everyday life. He explained many things; that I would one day be someone great, that no matter how rich or powerful I became, without an education there would still be people who thought they were better than me, that real happiness cannot be found outside of oneself, religion is a con, and the true nature of reality is beyond human grasp.
Sometimes I yearned to be at home with my mother especially when it rained or if the work itself seemed folly, but mostly my mind wandered and my imagination grew to new levels as a result of the repetitiveness of the tasks at hand. I dreamt of growing up and becoming a man, I desired adventure and excitement and of course women, the latter pre-eminent in most of my imaginings. I had little interest in academia and by the time I was fourteen I was suspended from school for kidnapping the infant Jesus from the nativity crib. It was a fellow student and confidant Judith, who alerted the principal to my ‘sin’ under heavy questioning. I never returned to secondary level education after that except to sit my leaving certificate, the result of which convinced me at the time that my future lay not in academia. By the time I was eighteen I had but one desire; to leave my hometown and live and work in Galway. I made the decision to go, packed a bag and boarded the Galway express bus from Drogheda station.
Sitting in the back seat I read The Fountainhead by Ann Ryand, the main protagonist, Roark, was a character with whom I could relate; he never compromised his integrity, he required recognition or acclaim from no one, he was sure of himself and he was not afraid of failure. I was Roark. Ann Ryand was a genius and she described in my opinion the perfect man, a man who I intended to emulate in everything I did. I was young and idealistic