One of my treasured memories is of the teenage boys next door coming into our little flat in Charlestown in 1974, and playing us a fun arrangement for piano duet, clarinet and euphonium of Danny Boy, in honour of our newly-born, very first child Daniel. It had been written for them by the well-loved Newcastle parish priest and musician, Father Peter Brock.
So you can imagine the shock we felt when we heard that Peter Brock's name had come up in the course of the investigation into Newcastle priests abusing children. Surely this was a mistake? How could such a prominent conductor, composer and Newcastle identity, loved by so many, be included?
A couple of years down the track, we heard he had been exonerated, and were greatly relieved. Then a little later we attended a performance of Bach's St John's Passion by Newcastle University Choir, which he conducted, and we had almost forgotten that his name had come up in this unsavoury saga.
It was the last concert we attended with Joan's mother, and was professionally and beautifully performed.
But today I read the disturbing news that one of those boys living next door to our first home was the person who contacted the police and blew the whistle that resulted in Strikeforce Georgiana and the royal commission. He came forward and spoke publicly yesterday, following the death of Peter Brock last week.
We are so bewildered to read that a trusted family friend and priest would make our neighbours endure sexual abuse as children, resulting in severe breakdowns as adults and the need for ongoing treatment and support for the rest of their lives.
It seems so unjust that this priest was able to escape punishment for his actions, and could be given an Order of Australia and other honours, without anyone knowing what he did, while his victims endured years and years of suffering.
And our beloved Danny Boy memory is now a pain in The Derry Air.