He was only six or seven when it happened. A quiet little fella hanging around with the other little ones on the road. But an older boy came along and punched him in the nose – for no reason.
And the bully had a following. They gathered round in a circle and they were all shouting – abuse and encouragement – and Dean was terrified.
Then he remembers his parents coming along the road. He just wanted his mother to wrap him up in her warm embrace and soothe away the pain but that wasn’t what happened. The parents began to shout too. They shouted at the bully. They shouted at the crowd of kids and they shouted at Dean.
“Get back in there and hit him. Kick him. Stand up to the little bastard. Get back in there and be a man…”
I was talking to Dean (not his real name) last week in Port Laoise prison. A lot of water had flowed down the Liffey since that sorry episode and things had gone from bad to worse. Now he’s doing time in the state high security prison.
I didn’t ask him what he was in for. I was there to give a painting workshop. I had only asked him about his memories of home…
A while ago I was interviewed by Sprocket films for Dúiche, a television programme on TG4 about working in prisons so I thought I’d show that clip here today.
It’s just a short clip. It’s bilingual and it features an exhibition of prisoners’ artworks, their drawings, sculptures and paintings. It also shows me a few years ago, painting in my studio. If you can’t see it directly below, you should click into the blog itself…
But don’t forget to come back and leave me a comment!
Yeah, I was just thinking how Dean’s life might’ve been so different if his parents had stopped that fight…