I once worked for an old man who owned a castle.
Brian Donovan Thompson was his name.
A well traveled and educated man,
He took an interest in me, he was always kind and saw potential in me.
I started working for him on the 16th of February 2013,
It was my 17th birthday.
I chopped wood, painted, fed the sheep, fixed fences, I installed insulation, I held conversations with this man, I patched leaks and painted over the mould in the great hall as you entered.
I remember getting paid €50 for only 25 minutes work. He asked me to paint the mould that was growing from the corner about 50 foot above the ground while he stood at the bottom to support me.
Didn’t seem too risky at the time, I mean €50 is a lot when your a poor 17 year old.
He spoke to me about life,love,business and what it means to have a legacy and the meaning of life. It all went over my head at the time.
I didn’t understand him fully at the time but I wanted to be around him all the same.
He built an empire that his son inherited and tossed away, bad choice after bad choice.
He spoke of the Mafia burning down a business of his to intimidate him.
He showed me newspaper clippings from where he fought off a robber by kicking him in the balls. “I kicked the fuckin bastard in the balls Ian”.
He spoke of growing up in New Zealand, Moving to Derry or Londonderry at the time, the air raids, rations, buying his first London apartment and another and another and forging his future.
He seemed larger than life at the time, he still does in my memory now.
He spoke to me of being my age in Africa when he was a paratrooper, digging trenches in the heat and sands of Egypt.
He spoke to me and he listened to me,
He signed a copy of his poetry book for me when I turned 21, his book was called “out of my system”
He signed it “ For Ian on his 21st birthday to remind him of the many hours we spent together at Cloghan Castle
From; Brian Thompson”
He was good to me and thought me a lot,
I wish I called him and saw him again before he passed a few years ago,
I wish I thanked him for seeing potential in me.
I wish I thanked him for encouraging me to read books,
To listen to classical music,
I hope he knew how he helped to shape me,
Brian Donovan Thompson you were a fascinating man who thought me much of the world.
I wish I appreciated it more at the time,
Thankfully he was wise enough to educate me despite my youth and anger.
He understood me without me saying much to him.
He was a good man.
I’m better for knowing him.
10 thoughts on “#230 – The old man and his Castle”
A lovely tribute.
You were fortunate to know and work with someone who owned a castle…..
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Have just read the history of Cloghan Castle and Brian Thompson. He had so much money.
Other things are necessarily on a large scale: 3,000 feet of copper pipe for plumbing (Elyse sensibly insisted on the central heating, remarks Brian) and 3,000 of electrical wiring as well, for example, while all other elements of the somewhat dilapidated castle needed attention in 1972 and saw major investment ever since.
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Yeah he was a very interesting man with a life so full of stories. He was a very wise guy thinking back.
He really did love the castle, he told me he always wanted one. He poured so much time and money into that old castle. He really did breath life into the old place during his time.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read and comment donmatthew !
He was very fortunate to have good financial backing to achieve his dreams….
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It sounds like Thompson was a wonderful human being.
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Brian was a lovely man, I’m glad I got to know him
Those people are the best. The one’s who believe in you before you do and they make you better just being in their presence.
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What a great story, it really took me in. Thankyou for sharing Ian.
Wow! A beautiful tribute to a man who could possibly see a part of himself in you and gently spoke not to you of the moment, or to himself in that moment, but to the middle-man: the man he was and he saw you could become. Few of us are fortunate enough to stumble onto these people, and for that we should always be eternally grateful. I just hope that I can gently inspire people around me as I have been inspired, and how Brian was able to mold and inspire you in the time you knew him. Also, a great reminder to reach out when we think of someone rather than put off until tomorrow what we could do today. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. But it is amazing to know that he was able to do so much in the time he had. May we all be so lucky.