By Maria Duffy. First published on Monday 25th April 2011. 14 Comments so far.

The Lost Boys

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs, laughter and tears… and me screaming like a frenzied fishwife on top of a hill! But more about that later.

Since I was a little girl, Easter has always been my favourite time of the year. I love everything about it – daffodils and tulips, chocolate eggs, new lambs in the fields, chocolate eggs, sunshine, sunburn, chocolate eggs, lazy days… and did I mention chocolate? Having four children of my own now, the Easter Bunny is always very generous in our house. So just like every Easter Sunday morning, we all crept downstairs to see what he’d brought. The following twenty minutes saw the children darting about the house, finding the chocolate surprises hidden by the aforementioned bunny!

So after we all ate our body weight in chocolate, we felt the need to go and get some fresh air. We arrived half an hour later in Bray, a lovely seaside town with a great holiday atmosphere. At this point, my lovely but sometimes too energetic husband announced that we should climb Bray Head, a large hill that forms part of theWicklowMountains. The children were excited at the prospect so despite me wearing flip-flops and… em… minus an all important toe-nail, I agreed.

Now hold on to your bonnets, the frantic fishwife part is coming up!

We spent a fabulous and fun-filled hour heading towards the peak, stopping to take photos and admire the view. And that’s when it happened. Suddenly there were just four of us and not six – the two boys, aged seven and fourteen, had somehow taken the lead and we couldn’t see them. I continued at a steady pace with the two girls and sent my husband on ahead to catch up with the boys. Minutes later we arrived at the top but the boys were nowhere to be seen.

For anyone who’s never mislaid a child, let me tell you, the feeling of panic is like no other. I began by only slightly hyperventilating but within a minute, when I realised that there was absolutely no sign of them and even more frightening, there were many places where they could have fallen over the edge, I was hysterical. My husband and I screamed their names, our voices carrying and eerily echoing through the mountains. People far below us could obviously hear us because they were looking up to see what the shouting was all about. That made it worse. Surely if the boys were okay, they’d shout back.

The other people around us at the top of the hill immediately sprung into action, taking descriptions of the boys, noting their names and even taking my phone number in case they’d find them on their way back down. If by any chance any of those people are reading this now, thank you, thank you, thank you! I could see the worry on other parents’ faces as though it was their own children who were missing and enjoyment of their own day long forgotten; they were on a mission to find the missing boys.

I’ll get straight to the happier bit now – I won’t tell you how I cried like I’ve never cried before. I won’t tell you that I felt like it was the end of my world. I could never even begin to describe the gut-wrenching feeling of dread when I looked over the side of the mountain and thought of what might have happened. But I will tell you they were found a half an hour later. Somebody who was on their way back down phoned a friend who was still up on top of the hill to say he’d found them. He brought them to a point where I could see them and they waved up at me. Thank God! I thought I’d never get back down to hug the living daylights out of them. It seems that for that split second that we lost sight of them, they took a different path that brought them to the top quicker and when they couldn’t see us, they headed back down. But of course they missed us on the way as we were taking a different route! How simple something like that can happen!

We managed to put the whole incident behind us and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the day. But I was never so happy as when late last night I went and kissed each of my precious, sleeping children. Then I got to thinking; if only we were like elephants and were blessed with trunks and tails…!

Maria x

14 comments so far

  • Horrible! I used to pack a whistle and flashlight and have everyone else do the same in the days I went hillwalking. Nowadays we have mobile phones, but half the time they don’t get a signal in the mountains.
    Glad to hear it ended well.

  • What an awful, awful experience. So glad you found the boys. I remember losing my daughter on the beach once. That was only for about 10 minutes. I can’t imagine how you got through 30 minutes of it. I think they all deserve mobile phones of their own now… just in case.

  • That must have been just awful. Gut wrenching. You poor thing. I was always getting lost as a child – wandering off on beaches, in museums, on walks. It’s only now I’m a mother I realise the terror I put my parents through.

    Glad it all turned out okay.

    • Thanks. Yes, they just don’t realise how much they put us through, do they? They probably won’t know how gut-wrenching yesterday was for us until they have children of their own! M.x

  • Okay, now I’ve finished crying for you, I can give you all a virtual hug and tell you that I’m delighted your boys were okay. I’m also really pleased to learn that every one else on Bray Head turned their energy efforts and attention to re-uniting you with your wee men.

    I know that awful ‘where are they?’ feeling. As a mother, you can’t help but imagine the worst in an effort to prepare yourself for it. As if you ever could.



    • What a lovely comment, Hazel. Thanks for that. Yes, the people on Bray Head were fabulous. There was a buzz all of a sudden when they realised something was wrong and everyone wanted to help. It really is our worst nightmare, isn’t it. Thankfully it was fine in the end. M.x

  • Maria, as I’m not a mother I can’t even begin to feel the terror that you must have felt. As you are a writer, I can, however, feel it from your writing. You all must have been terrified, so glad it all worked out okay.

    And a great photo to finish off with x

    • Thanks Mel. Yes, it was probably the most terrifying experience of my life. It’s hard not to think the worst when something like that happens. Thankfully all was fine in the end. Isn’t the elephant picture cute? M.x

    • Thanks Laura. Yes, it was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through. You allow yourself to think all sorts of terrible things when they’re missing! And yes, otherwise, I had a lovley Easter thanks. M.x

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