I first met Derek in the late 1980s and we bonded through interest in Music. There were many nights out in the Queens, Ennis and they always ended back at Derek’s kitchen with a toasted sandwich. We went by train to the Trip to Tipp in1990. I’ve forgotten the actual music, but the adventure of it all still lingers.
Two months later I was back in Trinity and was walking one morning from the Science end to the Arts Block. There on a bench sat Derek.
He was in Dublin, didn’t have my address and of course there were no phones. All he knew was that I was in Trinity. So he just took a chance that I would walk by. And he was right.
For a few years I lived in a house in Rathmines. One weekend I was away but my housemates came down to breakfast and an alarming discovery. There was a tent pitched in the back garden and in it two men. Turned out to be Derek and a pal. They had returned on a ferry from traveling abroad, after midnight and with no money. By the time they reached rathmines, he thought it too late to ring the doorbell. So they climbed over the back wall. In the act of which a cop came by. But eventually accepted their explanation.
He was easily the most musically gifted guy I ever met. Could play any instrument and had an unrivalled feel for it. He was friendly, honest, clever, opinionated, generous and well liked by all.
In recent years, time and distance drifted us apart. But I got a text from him out of the blue during lockdown. He was in my area and I grabbed the opportunity to meet straight away. So that night we met up and walked the streets of Newmarket, there aren’t many, for two hours. Over and back. Just walking along chatting, catching up on our lives, families, everything we’d missed. It was good, really good. Same old Derek as always.
I cannot believe now that he is gone and my heart is broken for Aoibhe, Cora, Cole, his loving parents, sister and extended family. He was a great guy and a privilege to have known. I’ll always remember him fondly.