Dad’s World with Jonathan deBurca Butler

IT’S 8.35am on Sunday and my lie-on is coming to an end. Ciara has been up with Luke since just after 6am and, through the walls of the bedroom, I hear Fionn shouting down to his mother.

“Is it morning time?” he asks at the top of his voice.

“Yes, it’s morning time,” comes the equally... eh... resonant response from the kitchen.

I have a little chuckle to myself and put my head under the pillow. But it’s no use.

There won’t be any more sleep for me today. Between the mother-and-son dawn chorus and Fionn’s arrival downstairs, the volume has got noticeably louder. It’s time to get up.

There’s a busy day ahead anyway and tactically it’s probably a good idea to get up and put in a bit of a shift with the kids early.

I have some of work to do this afternoon but, more than anything else, there’s the little matter of Ireland taking on France in the Rugby World Cup. If I want to see it, I’ve got to get to work accumulating brownie points.

As I sit in the bed listening to what sounds like something of a scrum between the brothers downstairs, I recall another huge game against Australia in the same tournament four years ago. 

Not just because of the great result but because the woman who is currently in the sitting room trying to referee our two boys was sitting beside me all the way through it.

We used to like watching the games together.

Four years ago, there were no children. Just myself and herself in a small two-bedroom apartment in Milltown. We had money, freedom, and, most importantly, each other. 

The night before the aforementioned game against Australia, we had been out for a meal in Ranelagh.

We followed it up with a few pints, met some friends, and eventually got home at about two o’clock in the morning.

Arguments back then consisted of whose turn it was to choose which song we listened to when we got home a little tipsy. 

Inevitably, she’d want some Billie Holiday, whereas I’d be looking for Leonard Cohen or Sonic Youth. We’d usually find a compromise and sometimes we’d even end up slow dancing in the living room.

The morning of the Australia game, we got up early; the time difference dictated that. We felt a bit ropey but this was Ireland in a World Cup. 

No hangover was going to stop us. As it turned out, nothing was going to stop Ireland either. I seem to remember that we went out again that night to celebrate.

Having kids is great. The unconditional love, hugs, kisses, the ridiculous innocent humour — Luke, aged one, gave his mother a raspberry on the bottom yesterday, the little idiosyncrasies — three-year-old Fionn’s latest is the use of the word ‘actually’ in every actual sentence actually.

There’s no doubt it does have its moments but there are certain days when you pine for just a few hours of the life you had before.

It’s been an age since myself and Ciara have watched an international together and on days such as today, I do miss it.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however.

“That was terrible,” she said to me as I walked through the door the other Sunday after the game against Italy.

“What was terrible?” I asked.

“Ireland,” she said. “They were shite.”

“Did you see it?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yeah,” she replied. “I left it on and the boys just played around me.”

“Did they watch it at all?” I asked hopefully.

“A little bit,” said Ciara. “They watched a little bit.”

So there’s hope. Soon enough, I might get her back for a game or two. I’ll just have to contend with two other fellas being there with us.

Getting up and going downstairs to help with the refereeing is probably a good start.


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