He’s a man who has charted his childhood and life as a local fisherman numerous times before on the Guide, but, as Covid-19 makes us all reflect and reassess, Jago Hayden can’t help but be reminded that he’s lucky to be alive.
Here’s a man who has faced death on more than one occasion – and he’s lived to write the tales.
“Between a life on the deep blue sea and just getting old, the Grim Reaper has popped his head up to say hello every now and then,” says Jago. “I have come within inches of death four times – the most recent being a cancer battle won ten years ago, on March 24th, 2010, in Sligo University Hospital…”
The anniversary, and the fact that Greystones, Ireland and pretty much the entire world is locking down into survival mode, got Jago thinking about a much earlier brush with death. We’re talking 78 years ago, to be precise, and the place, of course, was Greystones harbour…
The above photograph was taken in 1942, when I was just five years old – I’m the smallest child in the group. It was possibly taken by my brother Billy (aka Liam Hayden), because it has been in our family seemingly forever.
The other blondie just ahead of me was my older brother John, who later that afternoon sat dangling his legs over the edge further up the slip and got a small fish hook stuck in his backside. Our Grandfather McKenzie sorted that out with a wire snips, a pliers and a dab of iodine.
But he wasn’t on hand some day afterwards, when an older boy was fishing a hand line for me for whatever we might catch at high water, just where the bigger boys in the photo were sitting. So eager was I to catch a glimpse of the wee dabs that were nibbling at our bait, that I slipped into the tide as I tried to get a better look, and but that there were a couple of adults about, I was a goner.
Two of them went into the water – which was about ten feet deep – to pull me out.
The other lads in the photograph were Derek Paine (who needs no introduction), Pat Kelly (who was called The Horse Kelly by other lads, because by the age of fourteen he was already six feet tall) and, sitting of a bit on his own, Aleck Tucker, who ended up joining the Royal Navy. The lad who fished the bit of a line for me on the day I nearly drowned was Leslie Spurling. All of them, including my brother John, have passed on.
I’m the only survivor. But I feel that I have a fight on my hands this time. The only thing is, there are lots of other people in the same boat with me this time.
I think the lesson for these days is simple; we can’t be careful enough.
You can go explore Jago’s take on Greystones harbour here, and his exploration of Robert French’s Greystones photographs here.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.