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Barney Just Keeps On Rockin’


Back in 1957, Barney Hayden was given a dark diagnosis – the doctor told his mother that her baby had just one week to live.

Which makes his turning 72 this week all the more reason to celebrate.

Something Barney’s brother, Jago, is happy to do, with this little tribute…

Today is quite a landmark for our brother Barney, who has lived in England since our parents moved over in 1957. He will be seventy two today, but wasn’t expected to live a week when he was born with a Down Syndrome condition – as it was then referred to – in 1948.

He defied that prognosis, however, and indeed further gloomy prognostications from time to time down the years. Unfortunately, he caught measles as a youngster, and that affected him adversely, so that he needed care throughout his life. Had there been a measles (and other) vaccines available when we were all young, our mother would have made damn certain we all got them.

Our Aunt Eileen Hayden, who had looked after her parents in their old age in No 3 Castle Villas, after the homeplace in Delgany was sold at auction in 1942, came to live with us after our grandparents died and after Barney was born, and was his constant carer, until it became necessary to make arrangements for ongoing residential care. And, after the changes to institutional care introduced in Maggie Thatcher’s time as British Prime Minister, Barney has had the security of his own bedroom in a purpose built bungalow for six residents in a quiet cul de sac only seven or eight miles from where our parents lived out their lives.

Residents and staff are currently in lock down – as we all are – but we are expecting that this will be a big day for him nevertheless, with messages from at least three generations of nieces and nephews and cousins at god only knows what remove, from across the world.

I’m attaching a few photos. One of Barney, when he was very young, taken outside the cottage we spent our summers in, in the Bawn; another of him when he was about 60; and a photo each of our mother Annie Hayden, nee McKenzie, outside her house in Bushey in Hertfordshire; and one of our Aunt Eileen Hayden, who lived until her 94th year.

Happy Birthday, young Barney! You come from a long, fine line of ould ones, and now, thankfully, you’ve joined them…