Since Dessie died on 25th June 2018, I find I am quite incapable of putting him from my mind for more than a few moments; he is haunting my thoughts: popping memories into my head from whatever space he now inhabits.
I find myself feeling his loss much more deeply than I would ever have expected to and I now feel compelled to build a monument in his memory. As there exists no graveside for me to visit and I am living too far away from his home in Allihies to visit there regularly, I have decided to build a permanent memorial to him in the form of a Biography.
This work will require a lot of research and will probably be published online initially, perhaps in stages as more and more information reaches me from Dessie’s huge circle of dear friends and his large family.
It is my hope that, when I feel it is as complete as it can ever be, it might attract a publisher and I should like for all the proceeds from any sales of the imagined volume to go The Diabetes Association of Ireland and The Irish Kidney Donor Association.
But before any of this can happen: I NEED YOUR HELP!
Actual facts about Dessie that I have are scant indeed! This is the sum total of the facts pertaining to his background that I have so far:
Dessie was born in the Rotunda Hospital on 28th August 1957. His parents were Peter Merrigan and Margaret McDonnell. Margaret McDonnell was born in or around 1917 (I have as yet not been successful in pinning down her birth entry). Her father was Patrick McDonnell, Labourer. She married Peter Merrigan in Dublin’s Pro Cathedral on 7th March 1937. Peter’s profession at that time (and at the time of her death in 1958) was as Labourer with Dublin Corporation. Peter’s father was Christopher Merrigan, Bootmaker. At the time of their marriage, Dessie’s mother lived at 51 Avondale House, North Cumberland Street and his father at 16 Little Denmark Street.
Dessie’s mother died just two days after his 1st birthday, on the 30th August 1958 in Dr. Steeven’s Hospital. The family’s address at that time was 316 Landen Road. Margaret died of Renal Failure and Hypertension. High blood pressure was very likely a direct result of her kidney failure and both these diseases may have been as a result of Type 1 Diabetes as was often the case in patients who died of kidney failure at such a young age (she was only 41 at the time of her death).
Dessie’s father was unable to care for such a young infant and was given to the care of the nuns (which was customary at the time).
In reading the lengthy “Ryan Report” (Commission To Inquire Into Child Abuse), published in 2009, when questioned about the harsh conditions imposed upon the children in the care of the nuns, and asked if they ever showed affection to the children in their care, the nuns stated that affection WAS shown to babies who were kissed and cuddled by them. Though this kindness was rare and very short lived, it is of some small comfort to know that little Dessie was treated lovingly at least for a short time when he was a tiny helpless and abandoned mite.
One imagines him as having possessed a shock of blonde, golden curls, and with his blue eyes he must have been a beautiful, angelic baby. How nice it would be to uncover a photo of him in his infancy!
The next I have heard of him was from Christmas 1968, when Dessie would have been eleven. This was from a lady who lives on the Beara peninsula, who posted a comment on Tim Goulding, Artist, Facebook Page, at the time of Dessie’s passing. Her first memory of him describes a tough boy in short pants and scabby knees .Her son contacted me via Twitter after reading my In Memoriam blog, and told me that Dessie referred to her as his “Foster Mother”. I must make the assumption that children in Artane Industrial School were given holidays with kind people like this lady. I am deeply grateful to her for looking after him and for the obvious reason he decided to move to West Cork where he found eventual peace and happiness and enjoyed the love and support of many, many friends; soulmates truly.
So, good people of West Cork and Kerry (and Dublin) and the wider Merrigan clan: I NEED YOUR HELP!
Please can anyone who knew Dessie in whatever capacity contact me if you can be of even the smallest help with this tribute to him.
I am looking for memories and photos as well as certain documents pertaining to his life events.
I can be contacted via this blog initially (though Tim Goulding has posted my email address on his Facebook Page too and he can be contacted for my email address and phone numbers.
Thank you for reading this post and I look forward to hearing from as many of you as possible so that I might paint as accurate a picture of Dessie as possible.