In going through my old notebooks and visual diaries, there is one familiar face that keeps appearing time and time again. This is Cascarino Lawlor, our beloved family pet from my very early teens to my mid-twenties. The story of his name is legend in our family.
If you know anything about Irish soccer, you will remember we had a bit of a golden period in the late eighties and early nineties. As I remember, it was the time between the Euro ’88 Championship and the Italia ’90 World Cup. When I think of it, it’s like a haze of holiday sunshine. It generated great community spirit and national pride. All of our neighbours watched the matches in each others houses. There was huge excitement because being the underdogs, we ourselves, never expect to win anything. We seemed to clock up one victory after another and the Irish nation reveled in its time in the sun (we still do to some extent).
Anyone who knows me now will be completely shocked to hear my glowing account of this time because at this point in my life I am a known sports hater. I have sports issues. I have sporting-father neglect syndrome. I have “Get out of the way, the match is on!” anger. My dad is a sportoholic and has passed his obsession on to my siblings. I’ve somewhat grown to appreciate that it is a genuine passion in his life and I do my best to accept it. I’ll admit I don’t always succeed. I mostly do my best to just stay away and try not to annoy anyone.
Anyway, I’ve slightly moved away from my point. Tony Cascarino was a striker for the international Irish team at this time (no Grainne, I didn’t have to Google it!). My lovely sister Grainne LOVED him. Yes my dear, I am outing you. She LOVED him so much we named our dog after him. We always called him Casco for short.
Casco was the runt of the litter, a true under-dog, which made him irresistible to me and my sister. His siblings were fat and fluffy while he was skinny and a little sad looking. We wanted him. We wanted to choose him in part because we were worried he wouldn’t be the choice of other people. That’s probably a little condescending but I do think our young hearts were in the right place. He came home with us and has been part of our family ever since.
I always wanted to draw Casco. I wanted to capture his expressions, his pink nose and his tufty soft ears. I drew him from photographs and from real life (if he could sit still for long enough). I learned so much from trying to draw his face. I learned how light falls on fur and how hard it is to accurately draw a muzzle. I think I mostly drew him because I loved him.
He was noisy, he bit my ankles when we went for a walk, he followed me to the shops and when I was out with my friends. He was a good listener and always always got up on my lap and licked away my tears when I was upset. He was a good dog. When he passed away we grieved him. We all have “Casco stories” and he is cemented in our family history.
I feel when I look at the pictures I have drawn of him that I have a special artifact, a personal record of his existence. I examined every detail of his face and when I trace the lines with my eyes I remember unique details about him. I remember his mottled fur and the way his ears crimped when they were wet. Sometimes I am really glad I am an artist and when I’m looking at pictures I have drawn of Casco that is the gladdest I can be.