It is now 1998 and after six months of living in a rented house in Sandymount in Dublin, we start looking for a permanent home. The house prices at the time were steep in the capital and part of the reason was that the country was enjoying what was termed the Celtic Tiger with funds from the EU pouring in. The benefits were enormous with new road and rail connections being constructed that were opening up the country as never before.
To give you an example of how those early construction projects impacted travel in Ireland, what used to take five hours to drive between south Dublin and Wexford through all the towns along the route, only takes two hours today.
In 1999 the motorway stopped at just past the airport, and commuting times from further out into the centre of Dublin were long and on minor roads. However, as I was house hunter in chief and having experienced the massive mortgage required to live in London and not wishing to repeat that; I looked further afield. Checking the estate agents listings in the major papers, I found a property that looked intriguing.
Down a farm lane about 4 kilometres south of the town of Drogheda in County Louth, and about 6 kilometres to the long sandy beach at Bettystown, the detached house sat in the middle of two acres. The front and part of the rear garden had been cultivated with hundreds of bushes and trees and the last half acre at the back had been left to wild meadow.
The good news was that it was a third of the price of a property in Dublin and even better when David came to see the house on the second visit, he fell in love with it too. He accepted that his commute would be 90 minutes, but he was used to leaving early to get to the office and avoiding the worst of the traffic and we agreed that the house and the price was too good to pass up.
Our offer was accepted and for the first 6 weeks I would travel up from Dublin each day decorating the entire house before moving into our new home in the April, finally getting our furniture and belongings out of storage.
A new family member
We had both been working full-time or been living abroad so had waited 18 years before considering getting a dog. I had been the slave to two Lassie Collies before and had already picked out a name 16 years before when we first discussed having a dog at some point. He would be called Sam.
Trouble was it was difficult to find one locally in the area, but my father-in-law Geoff, lived opposite a well known and respect judge of dog shows in Ireland. He asked her for a recommendation and she gave me the name of a breeder about 20 miles north of where we lived. I rang them and told me that their champion stud dog had just sired a litter of pups only 8 kilometres from us. Following a telephone call with that breeder, I raced over and was introduced to a beautiful female collie and her three babies. Two girls and a boy, just three weeks old. I picked him up and held him under my chin and I received a welcoming lick.
I paid for him on the spot and told his owner that he would be called Sam so that over the next five weeks until I could take him home they could start getting him used to his name. I took David to meet him when Sam was six weeks old, and fortnight later on July 1st, we proudly brought him home. As an aside, the breeder had a two year old daughter, and she not only called our baby Sam, but the other two as well. I can only imagine their confusion when they went to their new homes and were given new names.
Sam was very articulate and when he was ten years old he wrote his own story with a little help from his slave!
A new business.
The next big event of the year was the purchase of my own business in Drogeda. An established health food shop where I also opened the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre. I was very lucky that the daughter of the previous owner agreed to stay on and manage the shop so that not only could I start to work with clients, but I could work the hours that enabled me to spend time with Sam. I had begun training him for this day from an early age, by leaving him for a few minutes at a time and then returning for a game. By the time I started seeing my new clients in the New Year he could be left for three hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon during the week and then had the fun of David home all day on Saturday.
We ended the year on a very high note as a family, having added an old feral cat called Henry, now Sam’s best friend. They would remain close for the rest of Henry’s life.
Now for the music part of the post…I had plenty of time to listen to music when commuting between Dublin and the new house and then during the decorating phase, and when Sam was fully vaccinated he and I would hit the beach twice a day at Bettystown and we always had music in the car. There were some great hits that year to enjoy.
Cher with Believe, My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, Baby One More Time by Britney Spears, I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith, My All by Mariah Carey, Heartbreak Hotel by Whitney Houston, No Matter What by Boyzone and Millennium by Robbie Williams. I was also introduced to Canadian singer Shania Twain’s music by my young shop manager and one of her hits that year is still on my playlist today along with many of her songs. Courtesy of her official Youtube: Shania Twain
You can buy Shania Twain Music: Music Amazon
If you would like to read more about Sam then please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for an Kindle or Epub copy… no review expected. I just enjoy sharing his story.