I met Derek in First Year in St. Flannan's. He was a great friend throughout those years. It was a love of music that brought us together - the Pet Shop Boys in those days. He was so naturally musically gifted, he seemed to able to pick up any instrument and play it - a constant source of awe to the chronically untalented like me. He was great company, funny and smart ,and I spent as much time as I could above the pub in Newmarket, playing records in his room or watching MTV. In secondary school you need a close group of friends and Derek was one of mine.
We then took the big trip to go to college in Dublin, he to Rathmines and me to UCD, but he was my flatmate all through my degree, initially just him and then with Robert and Colm. We shared some of the most appalling accommodation known to humankind in Rathgar and some not so bad ones in Portobello and the Liberties. First year BA in UCD was really intimidating and at times anonymous but Derek was very generous and he introduced me to all his crew so I got to know many of his classmates in Rathmines. Lots of time was spent listening to cassette tapes, very few of which were original. I particularly remember hearing a copy of the Stone Roses album he got at some point in 1989 - for the record we weren't that impressed on the first listen.
At the end of first year, after our lease was up, I was staying with my aunt and uncle as my exams were not finished. They were away one weekend and in typical teenager fashion I invited Derek to stay without consulting them. They were not best pleased when they got back and words were exchanged. I was indignant in the way you can only be at that age and myself and Derek dramatically walked out in the middle of the night. It was a stupid thing to do - I have no idea where we went - but I still remember that feeling of exhilaration and independence but most of all having Derek by my side. I smile at it now and memories like that are precious.
We drifted apart after college and had lost contact over the last ten years or so. I never made it to his wedding, I can't remember the reason now, I think we had just had a baby, but I really regret it. I no longer live in Dublin but I was convinced I would bump into him when I was in the city at some point. It never happened.
Every time I think about Derek, it always comes back to friendship and music. I can still go into my cassette tape collection and find copies with his writing on it. It gives me great pleasure to see how he built on his talent to have a long and successful career in music which I hope gave him great happiness and satisfaction.
I am so sorry for you Aoibhe, Cole, Cora, Pat, Teresa and Denise for the sudden loss of Derek in your lives.
I found this picture from Summer 1989 from the Young People Peace Camp we went on, you can see Derek's style was in place from an early age.