Sam was born on 7 July 1959 near Cork, Ireland, making him 52 on Crystal Day.
It was a rural, Catholic family. His father James was an alcoholic farm labourer. His mother suffered from depression. Sam was her second child. She had six more children after him.
Sam’s father had no time for Sam, being too busy either drinking or working, and Sam tried to win his father’s love by being good. His mother was often totally withdrawn and left the family to get on as best it could. In his attempts to win the love of his father, Sam took on the role of mother of the household, looking after his younger brothers and sisters. But the harder he tried, the more his father seemed to hate him, and the harder Sam worked to show he was good.
His childhood experience led him into teaching. He loved primary school, loved helping the teacher. On his first day he resolved that was what he would do when he grew up. This resolve grew when, he found (aged about five) that boys cannot be mothers. That was the only thing in life that seemed worth doing, and instead he was determined to nurture children in school.
As a young teacher, Sam caught mumps off one of his pupils when he was a school-teacher. Orchitis was accompanied by high fever, severe pain, and swelling of both testes, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Fever and gonadal swelling stopped in a week but tenderness persisted for months.
He was told by a consultant he can never have children. He decided at that moment he would never marry, since it would not be fair on any woman. His commitment to teaching became total.
Sam’s childhood had a profound effect upon him. As an adult he always tries to win the love of everyone he meets by being good to them. Yet winning their love is only part of his ambition. He really loves being able to control people without their realising it.
Sam is a balding, middle-aged man who tries to always look smart in order to set his pupils a good example. He is short-sighted and usually wears glasses.
Relationship with the O’Brien Family
Sam was Catriona’s teacher when she witnessed her father’s strange death on her eighth birthday. When she returned to school he realised she was not ready and drove her home to talk to her mother after school. Brigit realised he cared for her daughter and recognised an opportunity to have somebody who would look after the child she did not care for. He was flattered by Brigit’s attention and longed for a child of his own. Consequently he married Brigit, whom he loved emotionally but without physical passion, so that he could be near to Catriona.