Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008:
Rest in peace, John Aherne -
A day of sadness in Helsingborg,
Stockholm, and Wicklow, Ireland

What I think:

I'm very sad to relay the news that John Aherne, an Irish tourist who went missing in Stockholm over St Patrick's Day weekend, has drowned.

His body was recovered just before midday in the water at Norra Hammarby harbour, in the southern part of central Stockholm.

I'd written a couple of posts about John's mysterious disappearance, and had been hoping that he would be found safe and well. This is truly tragic, and my deepest heartfelt condolences go out to John's family and friends.

The events, from when John went missing, to when the news broke, and leading right up until I sit here writing this, are covered quite touchingly on the discussion forum on The Local (Sweden's news in English). 

It starts with Karl (John's host in Stockholm) explaining the circumstances surrounding John's disappearance, and the other regulars then offer help, support, hope and prayers (which they maintain throughout). 

The forum is then visited by many, many people from Ireland, some of whom take the opportunity to post comments to offer their gratitude, and to add to the voices of hope. 

A good few of these "newbie" posters are from John's hometown of Wicklow, and some spirit-raising anecdotes about growing up there are shared, while the agonising wait continues.

And then... 

I went to a meeting this morning, and got back at around 2:30 p.m. I went straight onto the computer, and over to for an update. I was immediately saddened to see the headline "Body of missing Irish tourist found" staring back at me.

I went to the discussion forum, and decided to read from where I'd left off last night (on page 59 - it was now up to page 69). Knowing what I now knew, it was unbearably sad to read what had been written late last night and earlier today. And reading the comments from around the time when the news started to come through became heart-wrenching. 

So, now I'm grieving for someone I've never met, and feeling so very, very sorry for others I don't even know. 

If it can be said that anything at all good has come out of this very sad and tragic loss, I think it would be the fact that John's disappearance has brought two communities very solidly together: one "cyber" community on The Local, and one very real, living, breathing, remembering community, in Wicklow town, Ireland. 

And it goes to show that, even though most of us in the cyber-world will go to great lengths to protect our anonymity, no one can deny that the "regulars" on The Local are indeed very real, very caring individuals.

Once again, deepest condolences to John's family and friends (special regards to Karl), but also a huge hug to the totally amazing people on The Local - you guys are great.

Finally to John Aherne: Rest in peace, mate. 
From what I hear, we would have gotten along well. That's what I think.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008:
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy in Helsingborg

What I think:

Firstly, it's with a heavy heart that I update you about John Aherne, the Irish tourist who went missing in Stockholm last Saturday night. 
John is still missing, and the Stockholm police revealed on Friday their fear that he may have drowned in a nearby harbour. 

The Local (Sweden's news in English), wrote: 
"Police conducted a dive in the Norra Hammarby area Södermalm in south-central Stockholm on Thursday and confirmed that something, as yet unidentified, has been found."

Today, police conducted another dive - for five hours - which, sadly, proved inconclusive. A further dive is due to take place on Tuesday. Another long, worrisome wait.

Police intend to contact the coastguard, and make use of their Remote Operated Vehicle to help with the search.

Family and friends are praying that police fears are unfounded, and that John is safe somewhere else. 

And the online discussion forum on The Local, on which John's mate Karl is a regular, has been host to a number of John's friends from his home town of Wicklow. Many people are stopping by to express their worries and frustrations, but also their gratitude for the positive thoughts and prayers that the regulars are maintaining for John's safe return. Do have a look ->.

Here's John:
We want him to be found, alive and well. 

My thoughts remain with John's family, with Karl, and with the many Irish visitors to The Local's forum.

About last night:

After this past week of worry, I decided to go out with my girlfriend to let off some steam. Turns out it was a very good idea. We ended up going to The Tivoli to see T.V. Smith, a punk legend who was with the band The Adverts in the late-Seventies. This was easily the best show I'd ever seen at The Tivoli.

It was held in the tiny "Backstage Bar", which is a very cosy, intimate venue. T.V. chatted to people before and after his performance, and was more than happy to sign copies of his CDs and books.

Here's T.V. in action 
(skinny bugger, isn't he?):
The performance itself was very cool. So much power and energy, both in his vocals and in his lyrics. His delivery, and his intelligent banter between songs, had the audience absolutely captivated.  

I've now got another claim to fame (to go with my "I had a beer with Marilyn Manson in Montreal - and didn't even know who he was" one): I had some beers with T.V. Smith of The Adverts, and I also bought him a couple, thus allowing me a discount on a CD. And we chatted like old mates for ages. 

T.V. Smith (formerly of The Adverts) and 
Mark Base (of CSI: Helsingborg and Suckerbucket)
reunite after more than 43 years.
Check out T.V. Smith's MySpace page.

Why do so few artists like T.V. Smith come to Helsingborg? It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday, March 20th, 2008:
Desperately seeking John Aherne:
Irish tourist missing in Stockholm

What I think:

OK, I know I haven't blogged for a long while, and I will get around to doing a "normal" post at sometime in the near future (I promise), but I want to take this opportunity to spread the word about an Irish tourist who went missing in Stockholm last Saturday night.

John Aherne was over from Ireland, visiting his friend Karl. 

During an evening out together with a group of friends, John decided to leave the group and head back to Karl's (Karl had given him some spare keys). He stopped for a nightcap at the restaurant on the ground floor of Karl's flat. While he was there, he just popped out for a smoke - leaving his coat and mobile at the bar - and has not been seen since. This was in the southern part of the city, on Katarina Bangata.

I "know" Karl through the discussion forum on (Sweden's news in English). See the links below for more information, and if you know people living in that area, please pass this on.

The Local's discussion forum:

Related stories on

Also on the Irish Independent site:

Please think positive thoughts.

That's what I think.