The Dr Damien O’ Muirí Collection of Enid Blyton books.
Dr Damien Murray (Later Damien O Muirí ).
Damien was born in Walkinstown, in a new housing estate built for civil servants. His father was a shoemaker, with a shop on Essex Street ( now Temple Bar) and his mother a civil servant, who had to give up her job on marriage.
He was an only child, and was inspired to read and explore at a very early age by his mother. He read all the books as they were released, and eagerly awaited the next in the series. He moved on to read general knowledge books, especially anything geographical, and then he wanted to learn the language of the country that held special interest for him.
He studied Japanese, because he was fascinated with the shapes and meanings of the letter characters. He also loved the Irish language and many of his diaries record new words or phrases he had learned during the week. He became a lecturer in Irish, organized a diploma course in Japanese studies, travelled a lot, and also became a barrister.
As a child he was a fan of J. Ashton Freeman’s Radio Éireann programme on nature in the Irish Countryside called Wild Wisdom. Children were interactive by recording sightings of birds and wild animals, and writing stories of their adventures, which would be shared with other children through radio around the country. Damien was a fan of the J. Ashton Freeman Club. At that time Walkinstown was still regarded as being “in the country”, so there was no shortage of interesting things to see. There were also competitions for children, and Damien definitely entered many things. He must have won a competition, because one of these pictures got into “The Irish Press”.
His life was typical of a child of his era, except that he was an only child, and found companionship in books, which inspired how his life unfolded. He also shared books and comics with his cousins, so there must have been discussions of adventure.
He loved this collection of Enid Blyton books so much he kept the collection he had on a bookshelf here until he passed away. I have just looked through them, and some of the books have “this book belongs to” labels just inside the cover and he’s written his name and address, still the same address I have today! I think the Famous Five and the Secret Seven inspired his later adventures.
We had 3 children together and they read some of the books, but were more into Harry Potter than Enid Blyton.
A good book is the best gift you can give to a child.