Spud Sunday: An Early Harvest

“Potatoes are up.”

So reads an entry made just three weeks ago today in the diary that sits on the table beside my Dad’s armchair.

Said spuds are the ones that were planted by Dad’s good friend and neighbour, John’O, in my parents’ greenhouse, after what was probably a good deal of friendly, if characteristically unsubtle, prompting from Dad. Though he himself was no longer fit for the kind of physical exertion involved, he remained, nevertheless – and as his career as an army officer and community fundraiser par excellence had always demonstrated – a supremely able director of operations. He was pleased as punch at the thought that he would have new potatoes in May – around the same time that he expected news of a much anticipated great-grandchild – and, while he needed no preparation for news of family arrivals, he had advised John’O to get the garden fork from the garage and leave it in the greenhouse, ready to lift the spuds when the time would come.

Potatoes in greenhouse

Yes, the potatoes in the greenhouse are indeed up

In the end, though, Dad’s time came first. While the potatoes continue to grow apace, he will not sit down with us to enjoy this year’s extra early harvest, nor will we hear him laugh while John’O reminds him that, sure, they weren’t his spuds anyway. Just over a week ago, peacefully and surrounded by those who meant most, the Guinness man, the potatoes man, the man with unusual breakfast habits, and my most beloved father, slipped away.


Dad giving forth, as was his wont

He leaves a larger-than-life gap, which we will cram with memories. He leaves a life well-lived, for which we are grateful, and more. And though we stay behind and gather the harvest without him, we will keep for him, always, a spud or two in store.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.

Topics: Spud Sundays
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  • My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family, Aoife. A beautiful tribute to your Dad xx

  • Beautiful words, Aoife. May he rest in peace.

  • Our deepest sympathies Aoife, what a lovely tribute to your Dad.

  • I’m so sorry for you, Aoife! The loss of a parent is so difficult. Those beautiful memories, that you’ve stored, will keep him with you forever. Deepest sympathies, to you and your family. May he rest in peace. Nessa x

  • Aoife, I’m so sorry to hear about your Dad. You wrote a beautiful piece and it’s a fitting tribute to him. Much love xxx

  • Aoife, thanks for sharing a bit more of your Da with us. One is not truly gone who is well remembered.

  • So true Bill, he will live long and in the memories of many

  • A lovely tribute to a beloved father. In a similar manner to you, I will always associate my grandmother with apples and apple tarts. Every time I enjoy or make a homemade tart, my grandmother is with me once again. They may be gone, but they will forever live in our memories

  • Funny you should say that Joanne, because another thing that my Da was very fond of was apple-anything – stewed apple, apple crumble, apple tart – and usually made from our own apples. Making any of those things will remind me of him and keep his memory close, as much as eating spuds and drinking Guinness.

  • My sympathies to you and yours on your loss.

  • Aoife, that must have been both a hard yet natural post to write for your blog. Your dad (and mum) have always been hovering in the periphery of the vision of your readers given their inclusion in your writing from time to time. Like star guests in my favourite tv show, I always looked forward to the tibbits of information you included about them. I had the great honour of meeting your dad on a number of occasions. Your tribute captures the essence of him. An essence that will always be with you all. My sympathies to your mum and the clan at large. Michelle

  • Indeed so Michelle, hard to write yet good to have written it. A part of him lives on in us all. x

  • Beautiful tribute to your dad, Aoife – no doubt your dad is hoping you’ll enjoy those lovely potatoes he was so excited about. He, and the rest of us, are looking forward to the first dish you’ll make from his harvest. :) xo

  • Hi Aoife,

    This is a lovely and very fitting post. I’m so sorry for you and your family. You’ve all done so well at telling good stories about him, and making the appropriate tributes — and this is an excellent addition.

    See you soon.


  • Thanks Tim, and I expect that the stories will continue to be told long into the future…

  • What a lovely tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss x

  • Huge condolences on your loss. Your father was one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. We took Liam to visit him and your mom last October. As we were leaving, your dad said to Liam “Now be good for your mother and father and maybe you won’t have to be lonely much longer.” Unsubtle, as you say, but so very sweet and gentle.

    Lovely post. Your dad will be deeply missed by many.

    You’re in our thoughts.
    -Ann (your cousin Peter’s wife)

  • That sounds like Dad alright, Ann – he never held back on his commentary, that’s for sure! And he loved that you visited and that he got to meet Liam – Peter’s parents, God rest them both, would have loved that too.

  • Aoife

    Sorry to learn about the passing of your Dad – a lovely tribute. Stephen

  • I’m so sorry to hear your sad news, Aoife. You’ve written a beautiful and moving piece here. Hugs to you. x

  • Dearest Aoife,
    My heart and soul feels for you and your family at this moment.
    You, your sister and all your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
    God bless,
    Pádraic Óg

  • My sincerest condolences but what a lovely tribute you’ve written to your dad there.

  • So sorry for your loss Aoife. Thinking of you and your family now and in the future.

  • those new spuds will be a poignant dish this time around, Aoife, but by the sounds of it, your great relationship with your Dad will stand to you in the long run. Eventually, the day comes when memories of him bring more pleasure than the pain of his absence. Having that good relationship hastens that day.

  • Thanks Joe – he raised us well enough (and stayed around long enough) to know that we’d be ok on our own and that, really, we’d never be without him

  • A wonderful tribute Aoife, and deepest sympathies to you and your family.
    Very moving,
    All of the very best wishes,

  • Deepest sympathy. The loss of a parent is always hard – my thoghts are with you and your family.

  • I’ve very sorry to hear your news Aoife, and will keep you and your family in my thoughts. This is a beautiful post and he sounds like a wonderful man. Hugs to you. xxx

  • A beautiful tribute, beautifully expressed.

  • Dear Aoife, I’m very sorry to read about the death of your beloved Dad and offer you my sincere condolences.

  • Lovely Aoif, nicely done! xx

  • I’m sure he would have approved of it himself Clairey, and would have told all the neighbours about it too, no doubt! x

  • My heart goes out to you Aoife. Sending a big squeeze your way xx

  • i am so sorry for your loss, my deepest sympathies to you and all your family. Lovely tribute.

  • Lots and lots of good memories, Aoife – and not a few potatoes. Cx

  • Plenty of spuds, Caroline, always plenty of spuds – and none of your fancy stuff either – good enough in their jackets or mashed or roasted on special occasions x

  • So sorry Aoife – a lovely piece about someone who was obviously a lovely and very special man

  • Aoife, I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent does indeed create a big gap in our lives; it’s coming up to 9 years (already!) since my dad died, and barely a day goes by that I don’t think about how different life would be by his presence, and how sudden & too soon he was gone. Funnily, I was remembering his food favourites the other day – brown sauce on everything before he’d even tasted it, rich tea biccies sandwiched with butter, and the late night “clink clink” of his spoon as he enjoyed a bowl of cornflakes before bed.

    I miss him. As I know you’ll miss yours. Sending you lots of love & thanks for sharing him with us all.

  • Dad shared himself with a lot of people Diane and thanks for sharing a bit of your Dad too – brown sauce on everything never sounded so good! x

  • Ah Aoife, very sorry for your loss. It’s a lovely tribute your father. A tough time for any family so my heartfelt condolences. Seems like he sowed a good crop and I don’t just mean prátaí! It does get easier, enjoy the memories.

  • Thanks Ailbhe, he did indeed sow many fine crops – they aren’t going away anytime soon and neither are the memories x

  • Im very sorry Aoife may he rest in peace

  • […] unsurprisingly, what with the recent passing of my Da, I am, these days, all about comfort food, seeking solace in sweetness, in soothing, creamy […]

  • Oh my dear friend, I’m so very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard it must be. Thinking of you and your family. x

  • Thanks Kavey dear, much appreciated x

  • Oh Aoife, I am so sorry to learn of your loss, and I can only imagine how hard this time. You’ve painted a wonderful portrait of an incredible individual who, from the sounds of it touched a lot of people and made lives the better with his presence. I don’t know what to say except if its any evidence of what a fine man he was, his daughter has touched so many people from all corners of the world making connections and raising an interest in spuds that no one considered possible. Be well my friend.

  • He enriched many lives with his presence LouAnn and I’d like to think that he will live on in those that knew him – thanks for the kind thoughts x

  • Oh, DS! I am so, so very sorry to hear about your dad. I always loved reading about him here–what a character. Sending sincerest sympathies your way, friend.

  • He was a real character Jenni – you would have loved him in person and I bet he would have loved you too, my friend! x

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