Pat’s Patch - Is there something in the water in Derry?

Last week, as I mentioned in this column, Chez McArt had friends from Australia staying. There’s a story behind this story.

My friend Jim was sent to Australia as a child migrant along with his two brothers from Derry’s Termonbacca orphanage.

This was way back in 1947. On arrival ‘Down Under’ the brothers were separated by the Christian Brothers - now there was a misnomer if ever there was one - and sent to different orphanages hundreds of miles apart. Twenty five years went past before Jim saw one of his brothers again, and both died young - from alcoholism. The cruelty of their childhoods meant the path taken was almost inevitable.

Jim, on the other hand, sort of copped on that the road he was on was leading to destruction.

He gave up the drink and despite having next to no formal education - children in orphanages back then were prepared for the role of dregs of society, not the elite - he went back to school, got himself up to quite a good academic level so much so that he became a science technician in one of Perth’s finest schools for more than 30 years.

Indeed, he was so highly thought of there when he retired the principal talked to him quietly and got him to come back to work for five more years.

I’m mentioning him publicly because I think he deserves to be mentioned publicly. A more decent, honourable man you could not meet. He is a credit to himself and, hopefully, somewhere in the big sky out there there is someone looking down and feeling very proud that he is their son.

If he was mine, I would be.