A Great Adventure

The Person: My dad, John Sheridan aged 15
The Place: Dublin Coast
It was the summer of 1946; the beginning of July and it was hot. I can only remember hot summer
days in my childhood, I don’t believe it ever rained when we were on the school holidays.
Now, this was a very important year for me and my friends because it was going to be our last
summer of freedom, we would only be in school for another year and next summer we would all be
working long hours and being responsible for ourselves, so this year we had to have the very best of
wild adventures.
This didn’t go down very well with the girlfriend, when I told her it was to be a boys only summer!
Oh no, Margaret Rose didn’t take this at all well. To be honest, it was the best excuse for me to
break up with her, as she was into the dating lark much more than I was! Anyway, she ran off crying,
shouting at me ‘you’ll be sorry Johnny, you’ll be sorry.
Our normal days started off with a raid of kitchens for bread, jam, a bit of cheese and if we were
really lucky there might be a packet of biscuits. Myself, Paddy, Peter and Jim would meet up at 9
every morning outside St Anne’s park and proceed to hitch our way along the coast to Howth or
Portmarnock. On more adventurous days we would head out to Bray. Do you know you can climb
over Bray head into Greystones? That was always one of our favourite haunts, two different
beaches in the one day. I remember well how those stones in Bray would hurt the feet off ye, but it
didn’t matter because as soon as you got deep enough into the water, you no longer needed those
feet because they had the freedom of the sea. If you climbed up the head a bit, there was an area
where you could dive off, we loved that, we used to do our Tarzan call jumping off, we were the
Kings of Bray.
Sometimes we’d be walking for hours getting home but it didn’t matter, because we knew what was
waiting for us at the end of the long treks…… Skinny-dipping at Clontarf Baths! We’d be tired when
we’d get back, so we would sneak into the open-air baths and skinny-dip.
It was the middle of July when this happened, we’d had a particularly good day because Paddy had
gotten his hands on a packet of sausages, so we built ourselves a little fire up on Bray Head, stuck the
sausages on sticks and cooked away. Oh my god, the smell of cooking sausages when you’re
starving, we were all drooling by the time they were ready to be devoured. Anyway, we got to
Clontarf baths that night full of the joys of life and were diving in and out of the water, when
suddenly a big flashlight came onto us and a fierce whistle blew out, before we heard the rough
voice of Sargent Tommy Reilly and Garda Michael Rooney, telling us to get our backsides out of
there now and it would be a trip down to the station for us, for exposing ourselves in front of young
ladies! Yes, there standing beside the Garda with a grin as big as a half-moon on her face was none
other than sweet Margaret Rose Jones and her two cronies……
My mam battered me all the way home for shaming her so much, my dad was very quiet about the
whole thing, I think he thought it a great adventure….