Family tales ~ Eamonn’s thoughts
Eamonn ~ Robert’s little brother ~ sending me some random thoughts was a brilliant idea: I’m not the only one who loves Robert obviously and his family have stories of him that I would not know about. I would ask that anyone who wants to contribute to Robert’s blog email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and, whilst I reserve the right to edit, I won’t unless I believe it needs it. Pictures if possible are also requested: if it’s a print I can get it scanned, just post to me. I will return it
Eamonn gave one of the readings at our wedding in April 2008 – my brother Sam did the other – and it was both humourous and moving. He spoke then of some of the memories he has of Robert and that’s very important, to have these thoughts written down for the future. Robert loves his brother and sisters very much and they him. I have also counted on them heavily over the last nine+ months ~ Bob is lucky to have such a supportive family.
Eamonn says… “There are a couple of big gaps where Robert and I had little contact. He left home at 16/17 or so (I was 5) and I had no real contact again with him until I was about 15. The next gap was when he joined the Swarbriggs and later again when he went off to San Diego.
So some of my early memories are typical of a younger brother looking up to his older brother.
I remember Rob being much immersed in music. Like all little brothers I hung around and was undoubtedly a pest. He took pity on me on occasion. For one of his bands, he actually allowed me to help paint the band name on the front cover of the bass drum. He nearly flipped when I went outside of the line and promptly fired me from the project.
I used to watch him play Dad’s guitar: he’d have a cigarette stuck between his third and little finger (strumming hand). I decided this was just too cool, so I stole a cigarette and mimicked this for a while (I couldn’t smoke and the chord was a two string version of E major taught to me by my mother – 12 bar blues style).
Robert sorted out my first ‘bully’: a local lad had started to ambush me occasionally on my way home from school. When Rob got to hear of it, he ambushed and humiliated this guy in his own front garden. I had no further problems! I know that Rob called on a Christian Brother (on my behalf) who was a bully at heart and gave him to understand that he should be careful on whom he picked. I didn’t find this out until many decades after the event.
Later on I did some babysitting for Rob and got to play his guitar and listen to some of his music. Here I discovered the Doobie Brothers and heard Paul Simon’s first solo album whilst sometimes hanging out with the band after the gig.
I later played a gig or two with his band Fag Ash Lil and much later Salty Dog [Robert, Angela, me, Brian Harris and Fran Byrne] in the The Pickled Pig in Bray [used to be The Sunnybank Inn]. I had great fun too doing some acoustic gigs with Rob and Angela [The Bridge Bar in Wexford, owned by Charlie McGettigan who used to own the Baggot Inn], but the day job and the night fun were too much for this boy to handle. Angela dubbed me ‘Eamonn the gun’ at these gigs and I believe she is still creating her own banter material! [forgotten I’m editing, Eamo?] I liked the finger picking version we did of Banks of the Ohio in Doc Watson style. As Angela said elsewhere, Rob had a tasty arrangement of Crazy and I occasionally intruded on Love me Tender with a third vocal and background guitar.
I have always looked up to Rob, particularly musically, and wanted to forge a closer musical understanding with him. Nailing his M Mus in Trinity was a major achievement and I have really enjoyed his company and our many long conversations since his return from America.
Ritamary and I visit every alternate night/day whilst Angela is there every day for what seems to be all day. We keep our fingers crossed that NRH can help Rob.