After Anne’s funeral I was looking through her stuff and I found a sheet of paper tucked in the pocket of her laptop bag. The laptop and bag were new, only a year old, but I had not seen this particular piece of paper in more than forty years. I was stunned to see it, surprised and moved that she had kept it close for all those years. It was a poem that I wrote for her in, it must have been, late 1973 when we were both twenty-one years old. We had been together for only a few months.
The room is rich with memories of my love
Sweet odours of her skin upon my body
The posters her friend gave her pinned above
the bed, her nightdress tossed in shoddy
fashion across the chair as she rushed out
to work, and on the table there are still
the breakfast’s dirty dishes, and no doubt
it is some hours now since she went into the chill
morning air, having kissed me goodbye
and I have lain here since then in her bed,
her face alive in my half-sleeping eye
have lain with thoughts of her going through my head.
When I’m with her I’m living with each nerve
Such love and joy I don’t think I deserve.
The love and joy continued, the living with each nerve, for the next forty six years. I miss her terribly.
In early 1980 UCG put on an access course for their evening BA, which was to start in the Autumn and Anne signed up for it. It consisted of taster sessions for the various courses on offer and she found it wonderful. She applied to do the full course. This involved an interview with the Dean so she could matriculate on mature grounds. Presumably to test her commitment to study, he asked if she would not prefer that her husband bought her a fur coat rather than pay the fees for the course. She was outraged by this and highly amused at the same time. “I already have a fur coat,” she said, and she did have one she had bought in the Dandelion Market! As it was, we didn’t actually have the money for the first-year fees. Luckily, Digital agreed to give me an advance on my wages when I explained the reason, and we were able to pay it back over the next few months. We managed the fees okay in later years, so I only needed an advance this first year.
Anne loved every aspect of her course, even though it was very demanding on her time and she had three children under five. She had to attend three evenings a week plus Saturday mornings. I learned to make dinners on Saturdays and nobody starved. “First Year” was taught over two years, then one year for second year and one year for third year, so it took four years to complete a three-year degree. She took English, Archaeology, Geography and Economics in first year, then dropped Geography and Economics for subsequent years. She used to come home every evening after class exhausted but full of stories, and whenever we went anywhere with the children she would speculate about the kinds of rock to be found there, or the ancient peoples who lived there. She also loved English and she raved about the English lecturers she had on Saturday mornings. She never felt like she had enough time to do the readings or to study properly or spend in the library. That cohort of the BA bonded very well. They organised a Christmas party in the Banba Hotel and Hubert McDermott was invited as special guest. In his speech he remarked that the had chosen the only hotel in Galway that already had two BAs in its title!
One year the Archaeology Department organised a Summer trip to sites in England. Anne went on it with Mary Kelly, a friend of ours from Digital. On the first day, Anne saw a lovely concrete cat that she thought would be an ideal present for Heather, who was besotted with cats at the time. So she spent the next week carting this cat, as heavy as a brick, through Avebury, Stonehenge, Wookey Hole and all the other sites they visited. Mary remembers sharing the burden, lugging it around sometimes to give Anne a break. She also remembers that Anne was so used to travelling with the children that couldn’t stop herself pointing out things to Mary on the bus journey – “Look, Mary, there’s a field of cows”, “Oh see, isn’t that a funny shaped tree?” They got a chance to participate briefly in a dig at Avebury and they saw so many wonderful things on that trip that Anne had stories for years to come.
When the degree came to an end Anne wondered what she might do next. She briefly considered doing an LLB, which some others from her course were also looking at, but in the end she opted to do the H.Dip. in Education, which was training for secondary teaching. She only had one teaching subject to degree level, English, but she qualified with the Geography she did in first year as her second subject. She could not visualise herself ever working in a secondary school, and in the event she never did work in one. She asked around the second level schools in Galway but none of them would take her on for teaching practice. “We need to keep places for our own students”, they said. It was acceptable to do your teaching practice for the H.Dip. in the senior classes in a primary school (fifth and sixth class). She was accepted in the school the children were attending, Scoil Caitríona in Renmore. I remember her using coloured markers to draw out an overhead of the water cycle for a geography class, and also preparing handouts for a poetry class with an old spirit printer that I acquired somewhere. She did very well with her teaching practice and qualified with her H.Dip. in 1985.