The world I grew up in hummed with the fear of imminent nuclear disaster. I was 10 in April 1986. I remember the hushed conversations, the mounting dread that hung like a radioactive plume in the ether after news of Chernobyl leaked out, the instruction from my parents not to go out in the schoolyard if it was raining. For nine days, the fire that started in Reactor Number 4 burned on, and the world held its breath.
Ireland was gripped by what an editorial in this newspaper termed “terror [for it is nothing less]” about the fallout. Milk was delivered in churns to a lab in UCD for analysis and was found to have elevated levels of the feared radioactive iodine-131, which had a half-life of eight days.