“Wing Commander?”


“Rear Admiral?”






“Nobby Stiles?”

“Yeah I’m here dad… don’t call me Nobby”

“Okay son… sorry. What is it you want to be called again?”

And, the truth is I don’t remember the name he chose. These pseudonyms were for the roll call we had, each time members of three generations got back in the mini-bus, after a stop somewhere on a family holiday in Ireland. Whilst this will sound and read as an exotic circumstance… the beautiful accident of history finds you placed in this story because your blogger met and married a girl whose mum was born in Tralee. So launching out from my mother-in-law’s hometown, a series of day trips took place in our mini-van around the Ring of Kerry in January 2013.

I do remember that it was a bit cheeky to have a lend of him. I felt like I could just get away with calling him Nobby Stiles (on the surface I could claim innocence and tell my wife that all I was doing was honouring our son with the name of a famous Manchester United and England  footballer). In truth, and please don’t be offended by my slightly crude assessment that he was going through what I call the knob-head stage. Indeed I’ve received a few admonishments from his mum when I’ve referred to moments when his teenage antics have frustrated us and I’ve said “looks like we’re getting a visit from Nobby”.

Of course, from his perspective, he probably thought that I was going through a stage that he could have called by the same name.

Dads and their teenage boys can often have some rough patches. The boys’ hormones can make them impulsive and at times, a bit crazy. We as dads can often lose our sense of humour. As you will have read in this blog over the years… there is absolutely no claim of any parenting expertise or perfection coming from me. One thing I do know is that when the times are challenging, and it is tough one-to-one as parent and child, it’s great for our kids to know they are part of a bigger mob. You might recall that the notion of ‘layering their memory’ is a big value for me. They might think you are ‘Exhibit A’ of the world’s worst parent right now but if you have sincerely tried to give them some experiences with their wider family, there’s a good chance, some years on they will remember those moments with affection.

It cuts both ways for us as mums and dads. We remember the funny moments.

Wild, crazy, annoying teenagers can reduce you to tears of laughter in one moment on a day when all they have been doing, for hours before, has driven you nuts.

And that’s where we zoom in on the signature moment of this holiday. The memory that will stay with us.

We were at the port of Fenit – a few miles out from Tralee.

There is an enormous statue of Saint Brendan the Navigator. It is an impressive, giant sculpture that looks out to sea. There’s a mound of soft Irish, mossy grass on the little hillock that Saint Brendan stands on.

Our young bloke starts rolling down the mossy hill – he might have done it twenty times. Like he was three years old again. His grandparents, his mum and dad and sister simply surrender with laughter. He gets so hot that (remember it is a northern hemisphere winter) he throws his shirt off and keeps rolling. And then he stops and climbs back up one more time to stand beside Saint Brendan.

Luckily, we captured this amazing shot – Jacko and Saint Brendan the Navigator. Lisa keeps this photo as the wallpaper on her desktop computer.


Why send you this now?

Well today is Saint Brendan’s day.

We bought a bronze plaque of Saint Brendan’s boat – on the back was a Celtic Fisherman’s prayer.

Protect me O Lord, my boat is so small, and your sea is so big.

That could just as easily be a prayer for parents and teenagers.