"It is said that we never forget our first love, our first kiss, the first time our body held feelings it had not held before. However old we are, whatever the nature and extent of our experiences, nothing will ever be able to erase that distant memory of most innocent love in the summer of our youth.
There is a bitter sweetness in love's young dream. The young boy or girl does not so much 'fall in love', but rather 'trips over it.' It is mostly an infatuation that is mistaken for love; a youthful yearning that leads to more adult thoughts and temptation.Young love deceives at every twist and turn, making us afraid to lose that which we think, but do not have. When first love becomes a physical love, it can be so tumultuous and passionate that it becomes a violent journey that is bound to crash. Far, far better to keep your first love an innocent love, a love that seventy three years of fading memory will not blot out, a love that time itself can never change.
During my life I have been with many women, some good, some bad, most of them beautiful in looks, but not all. Outside the names of those I have married, I cannot recall the names of countless others who have kept me company along the way; that is all except two or three, of which my first was Dooney Quinn. Now let me say from the start, that adventurous though Dooney was, our conduct never strayed beyond behaviour that would command any more than five Hail Marys and three Our Fathers penance in the confessional box. When we first met, we were a perfect match. She possessed a boldness that was an ideal partner for my youthful curiosity, and a marriage of minds was in the making.
To this 15 year old boy at the time, who had spent the better part of the previous three years in hospital while being unable to walk, Dooney was a breath of fresh air I badly needed. The very first time she smiled in my direction and said, 'Hello', my heart was hopelessly lost. Dooney Quinn was a young woman from the town of my birth in Ireland who was probably my very first love. She was, I recall, a few years older than me and far wiser in the ways of innocent devilment than I could ever be. As a young boy of 15 years, during one holiday back at my grandparents' house, she agreed to walk with me up Curraghmore and show me the Irish countryside.
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon, the kind of day that makes one feel great to be alive, and better still to be a person of the opposite sex. Dooney and I approached the river up Curraghmore and as we neared, we could sense the ripples of expectation and sheer abandonment as the freshness of its waters beckoned us into more adventurous mood.
"Do you fancy a swim, Billy Forde?" Dooney asked.
"I do, but I've got no swimming shorts with me, Dooney" I replied.
"What's those?" she asked coyly, adding, "And who needs swimming costume up Curraghmore when the sun is out?"
Dooney was the first person in my life to introduce me to the pleasures of skinny dipping, which given the enlarged girth I possess today, would no longer be physically possible. The nearest I ever came to this experience thereafter was the sharing of a bath tub or jacuzzi with a beautiful back scrubber, but these experiences was no match for swimming naked in the cool waters of Curraghmore with Dooney Quinn during that hot summer day of 1958, in my 15th year of manhood.
About four or five months ago, I could hardly believe it when a young relative of Dooney messaged me on Facebook. After a number of messages back and forth between us, it was confirmed that the Dooney mentioned was indeed the Dooney of my youth who took me skinny dipping up Curraghmore. Isn't strange how life comes back to bite you on the bum when you least expect it?" William Forde: April 16th, 2016.