The Growth of Privacy; Day 11 –
A Silent Train Journey

FEBRUARY 11, 2020

My grandad Corkery died in 1994, it must have been then because I was living in Dublin at the time, studying for my Masters in Law; where I first really encountered data protection as it happens.  Privacy as a practice area was a broadening of that technical discipline that I was yet to discover in years to come.

My youngest brother was attending school in Dublin too at the time. 

We met at the train station to make the journey home for the funeral.

Funerals are very busy and public things in Ireland.  Particularly funerals that come naturally at the end of a long life; sad of course, a celebration of a life well-lived too.  So this part of the journey was a quiet time that we had together before getting caught up in the formalities; formalities that were still relatively new and unfamiliar to us.

For me, and I suspect for my brother, it was the final end of childhood.  My grandad Corkery was the last of my grandparents to die; my childhood relationships with my grandparents were particularly formative for me, they had none of the burdens, responsibilities, and duties that must exist in the relationships with parents. 

With grandparents, things were freer, better, lovelier. 

And now that was all over.

But the thing was that when we met and travelled along together, we did so primarily in silence.  We exchanged some pleasantries and practical matters, but we did not speak about what was really happening to us.  Reflecting on it now I think that neither of us had the emotional maturity to do so, though I, as the older one, should have been better able for the situation.

To this day I regret that I did not reach out a hand to a shoulder and just connect in the intense emotion of that time together over the course of a couple of hours that we were both travelling through together at a unique moment in our lives.  To acknowledge the depth and significance of it and it’s meaning to each of us.  But I didn’t.  We just didn’t do things like that in our family.

And then the journey came to an end and we were swept back up in the bustle of getting places and doing things

And the moment had passed.

Privacy it is said is the right to be left alone.  But it can also represent the circumstances that enable us to overcome loneliness, to share honestly and openly with others, to make a connection in confidence. 

The important point is that the choice is ours to make, we decide whether to make the connection. 

And it could be as simple a thing as reaching a comforting hand out onto a shoulder. 

Or not.


flor mccarthy

Flor McCarthy is one of Ireland’s leading lawyers and a recognised expert in marketing. He has particular expertise and hands-on practical experience in privacy, data protection and GDPR issues for marketers. He is certified by the Law Society of Ireland in Data Protection Practice and lectures lawyers on data protection practice and compliance. He is managing partner of a multi award-winning niche legal practice. He has been in private practice for over 20 years and has been elected by his peers to sit on the exclusive Council of the Law Society of Ireland, the governing body for Irish lawyers.

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