In the 80s, we lived in Donegal, Ireland and drove through Sligo to go to Galway where my Dad grew up, and where we still had family. One of the areas we drove through was absolutely beautiful—it was a place called Drumcliffe just outside the town of Sligo that had a magnificent mountain called Ben Bulben on one side of the road and views of verdant green fields that rolled down to the bay with more mountains on the other side of the water. My mother especially loved this view, and thought it a coincidence that when she first went to Ballinasloe, Galway—where my dad was born, grew up, where she and dad first started dating, and where she found and sent a picture postcard of this area to her parents in England (where she and dad were living at the time)— now she was driving through it.
In 1985, we moved from Donegal back to England, but in 1987 my dad was made redundant at his job, and out of the blue he was given a chance for a position in Sligo. He was successful so, we moved to Sligo. When we were first there, we rented a house while we were looking for a place to buy and the old lady who lived in the back of our rented house came over to say hello. When we brought her into the sitting room, she took one look at the large portrait of my Dad’s father that was on the wall over the fireplace and turned to us and said, “That looks like Michael Colohan, how do you know him?” My dad, who was coming down the stairs, nearly passed out with shock and asked, “How do you know my dad?” She asked, “Which son are you Noel, Richard, Brendan, or Michael, Jr.?” My dad said “Brendan, ” and the two sat talking about his parents for ages. This was in 1987—my grandad Michael died at the age of 40 in 1950 when my dad was just seven years old.
Another strange coincidence was that I made a while living in this house: I made friends with a girl named Siobhan whose uncle grew up in Ballinasloe and was best friends with my uncle Mick when they were kids 40 years before.
After a few months of house hunting, mum was looking in an estate agent’s window and noticed a house was for sale right in the middle of Drumcliffe—the exact area that we drove through in the early 80s and my mum fell in love with from the postcard in the early 60s.
When we got to the house, my mother was convinced she knew the man who owned it and said so on the way home. When we went back for a second viewing, she said to the man “I’m sure I know you from somewhere” to which he replied, “I was thinking the same thing about you.” It turned out that when we were living in Donegal she was working in a cash and carry (a wholesale store) and he was a sales rep for Rowntree Macintosh who made sweets. When he came in the wholesaler’s, she made up the invoices for him to take back to the company. We bought that house, and we are still living there now, 30 years later. They say over here that living in Ireland is like a village and all this proves it.