Real Life Stuff
My name is Philip Friel, full name Philip Noel Friel, although I prefer to be called Phil. I was born on 7th December, 1960, in the city of Derry, in Northern Ireland, where I’ve lived my entire life.
I’m the eldest of five children, and I have three other brothers (Gary, Paul and Sean) and one sister (Sandra). Both my parents are dead, my mother (Mary) in July 1975, and my father (also Phil) in December 1991. All of my grandparents are dead, my paternal grandparents within a three week period at the end of 1972 and start of 1973, and my maternal grandparents a couple of years apart in the early-1990’s.
I spent the earliest years of my life living in and around the Bogside area, firstly at Wells Street (beside the Long Tower Chapel), then at Rossville Street, and then at Ann Street, which is right on the original site upon which now exists Glenfada Park and Columcille Court, both of which featured so prominently in the infamous “Bloody Sunday” tragedy. The surge of urban renewal and development in the area during the mid-1960’s which led to these changes, saw my family relocated in 1966 to Shantallow, a newly developed council estate a few miles outside the city centre, where I spent the next twenty years of my life. At Christmas 1985 we moved again, this time to the Glen Estate, just off the Northland Road, where I still live with my brother Gary, who is severely disabled, both mentally and physically. I’m not only his “big brother” but also his principal Carer.
My first school was St. Eugene’s Primary School, Francis Street, where I spent only a few months during 1964-65, before our relocation to Shantallow, after which I began attending St. Patrick’s Boy’s School, Pennyburn. In September 1972, I started attending St. Columb’s College, Bishop’s Street, and two years later I moved to the newer school on the Buncrana Road. I left St. Columb’s College in June 1979, after attaining a total of sixteen “O-Levels” and three “A-Levels”.
In September 1979, I started attending the New University of Ulster, Coleraine, where I spent the next four years until I graduated in the summer of 1983 with a B.A. Honours Degree in History and a Diploma in Education. But despite leaving university as a qualified teacher, I quickly gave up my teaching job to concentrate on my career as a DJ, which I’d started several years previously. I’ve been a DJ for the past thirty years, and enjoyed every moment of it. Much better fun than teaching.
I was also helping out with looking after my brother, and from the middle of my second year at university, I also started caring for my father, who had begun experiencing bad health himself. That was only to continue and get progressively worse, until the start of December 1991, when my father finally passed away, and I took over as full-time carer for my brother.
I’m not married (and remain a long-term single bloke), but way back when (starting almost 30 years ago), I had a long-term relationship (six years, from age 26-32) with my ex-girlfriend. Our son Philip was born on 12th July, 1991, and was the focal point around which my entire life revolved, until his tragic death on 19th April, 2006, after many months battling cancer. This awful tragedy has had, by far, the greatest impact upon me of any event in my entire life, and I’m still trying (mostly without success) to cope with and accept this terrible loss, seven years after his death.