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Bray to Wicklow and back again

This is a hard post for me to type as it keeps bringing back a lot of really amazing memories, but also makes me sad for many reasons.


As a child I was very fortunate enough to be able to go on holidays every year, not to the Canaries, Spain or even the UK but to a magical place called Silver Strand in Wicklow. I spent the whole of my summer holidays in a mobile home there, and I have to say they were some of the most incredible years of my life. As I grew older I still went down and a gang of us who grew up together experienced a load of first there. The first snog, the first smoke, the first drink down the side of the cliffs. We used to go fishing and swimming every day. It was bliss.


I began working in a pub in Dublin called “The Grange” in Deansgrange and in order for me to be there the few nights I worked, I used to cycle to Dublin, do my shift, sleep at home and cycle down the following day. I became quite good at it too doing the cycle in about an hour 15 minutes.


As time went on the Silver Strand gang used to go into Wicklow town a lot more and thats where my sadness stems from. We became very good friends with some people from Blainroe, a summer home place for the wealthy folk of Dublin, lol and also some guys from Wicklow town. I became very close to one person from Wicklow, a chap named Stephen Cornish, or as he was known “Chicken”.


Chicken was a very well respected and admired guy around Wicklow, why he became a close friend of mine is beyond me, I was a shy, insecure guy when we first met whereas he was Mr. Popular, but we did become close and were often seen stirring it up in Wicklow on one of the many outings to the Leitrim Pub, the Mariner, the forge or Healys. Chicken introduced me to the whole idea of pub-crawls, which in a town mainly made of pubs I think it was 14 at the time was quite an event.


As time went on and we all grew up, I lost contact with him, something I have often regretted. Chicken went out with one of my other friends from Blainroe, a girl called Jenny. I found Jenny a few years ago on Facebook and only recently found out that they were still going strong after 20 odd years. They had got married, they had kids, but Chicken did not seem to be on Facebook himself.


The weekend before last I found out that Chicken had died in March. Jenny messaged me to let me know, which I know could not have been easy for her. I was out at the time and was hit for six when I read the message. It kills me that I did not know he was suffering the last while with cancer, it killed me that I allowed us to drift apart, and that is why 22 years on from the last time I did it, I decided to get my bike and cycle down to Wicklow, to take in the spots himself and myself used to frequent, almost like a tribute to the person I learnt so much from.


Im fucking sore from it even now. 70km in one day was insane, but knowing why I was doing it made the pain all the more easier. So this post is in honour of one of the nicest, genuine guys I have ever had in my life, this is for you Stephen, you will always be missed, rest in peace mate.

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