lowing week and thereafter understood the futility of bothering life withunanswerable questions.
On the fifteenth of July 1944 she graduated from University College Dublin with a Bachelor of Arts in German and French. With the other graduates she stood for the graduation photograph on the steps of EarlsfortTerrace wearing robe and mortarboard, her scroll clutched to her chest.The audience gathered in the forecourt included parents of graduatesand assorted members of the community, such as active sisters, affiliatedDominicans, and, occupying the rearward rows, more brightly colouredlay staff. She was positioned in the third row of the ranked graduates,and at the final moment she shifted her weight so that the photographerwas obscured by the head and mortarboard of the graduate in front ofher. As a result she was not visible in the printed image, an outcome thatleft her greatly pleased, with only the faintest shadow of regret when inlater years she took the picture from the drawer it was kept in and staredat it for afternoons at a time, looking for her forgotten likeness.
On the twenty-sixth of December 1949 her father rose suddenly from thedining room table with his arms outstretched, as if seeking his balance,and then fell to the floor. They thought at first he was joking. But hewasn’t. She ran to the Drumcondra Road for the doctor, who diagnoseda stroke. On the second of January 1950 he was struck again and died.His funeral was held in Saint Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street.He had frequently expressed, when in a jocular mood, a wish to be buried by the Jesuits. She sat in the front pew beside her mother and recalledthe dipping of her father’s head beyond the obscuring glass of the frontdoor, his hand resting momently on his hat. The coffin was open. Withinthe plush interior her father was dressed neatly in suit and hat. Besidehis head someone had placed his favourite stuffed dinosaur, a thing ofgreen fur with googly eyes made up of black discs like tiddlywinks sliding on a white plastic ground. On the steps of the church the mournersgathered in the cold-grease light of a winter’s afternoon and spoke in lowvoices. All agreed he was taken too young.
On the thirtieth of March 1956 she locked Éadaoin O’Herlihy, the headof languages at Terenure College, in the wardrobe of the spare bedroomof a house on Vernon Grove, Rathgar. It was a Good Friday. Havingpromised herself not to drink on the holy day, she was importuned by