Tag Archives: County Wicklow

Heartfelt

The ball rolled slowly over the goal-line, and a two-point deficit became a one-point lead.

Eighty thousand voices rose, some in despair, some in joy. Seconds later the referee blew the full-time whistle. Pigs had not flown, Hell had probably not frozen over, but the county of Wicklow, for the first time ever, had won the All-Ireland Gaelic Football Championship.

Sean’s heart leapt in delight, though he wasn’t sure it was meant to do that. He felt a bit bitter, though, as he watched the TV. He should have Been There, he’d had his ticket for weeks, but then this had come up and so it was his neighbour (who had whooped and embarrassingly kissed him on the forehead when he gave him the ticket) who was witnessing history.

Sean went to roll up the left sleeve of his pyjamas, his hand slipped off and he punched himself in the chest, right where his new pacemaker was. The astonishingly sharp pain assured him that he wasn’t meant to do that.

It had all started a few weeks ago, when he’d suddenly begun to black out for no apparent reason and in every possible embarrassing situation. He had slid off a bar-stool in his local. He had keeled over in Tesco, his runaway trolley noisily toppling a a Ferraro Rocher-like arrangement of bean tins. His head had bounced via the chest into the lap of a girl beside him on the bus.

Tests had revealed that his heart-rate kept dropping to zero. He had been placed in a hospital bed, a pacemaker had been placed in him, and Wicklow had marched to glory without him. He was only 39, he hadn’t Been There, and he was feeling very sorry for himself.

He hadn’t noticed that it was visiting time, and started (he wasn’t sure that he was meant to do that) when his wife and daughter appeared at the door of the ward.

His wife smiled, though with tears of relief in her eyes. “Hello, Tinman,” she said.

His daughter handed him a card made from a folded sheet of A4 paper. “Get Well Soon, Daddy”, it read. One of the two inner Ds was the wrong way round.

“Is your heart better now, Daddy?” she asked.

On TV the Wicklow captain had accepted the cup and was now thanking the manager, the fans, the squad and quite possibly the Unitarian Church Organ Restoration Committee. Sean didn’t care. As he looked into his daughter’s troubled little face his heart melted, and this time he knew it was meant to do that.

“Yes, darling,” he said softly. “It’s better than ever.”

**********************************************************************

It’s ten years ago today that I got my pacemaker, a small change to my body that has meant a huge change to my life, and this story is its birthday present.

The story itself is mostly fiction – my name is not Sean, I was 50 and not 39, Tingirl and her two brothers were much older than the girl in this tale.

Also, the All-Ireland Football Final takes place in September, not in January, and my home county of Wicklow are no closer to winning it than ever.

Damp Course

I got to my house this evening (well actually to the pub, I felt that I needed it) after two hours and forty minutes on the bus. I work nineteen miles away. It’s like being back in the days when a man carrying a red flag had to walk in front of your vehicle, except we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with any man walking in front of ours.

This is because the N11 motorway is flooded.

Now let me assure you people (you lucky, lucky people) who do not live in the County Wicklow area of Ireland that the word “motorway” means exactly the same thing here as it does where you are – a big, many-laned, flat stretch of roadway with grass verges and trees at the sides – nothing in any direction, in fact, against which water could build up. Flooding a motorway in just one spot is a substantial achievement, like parting the Red Sea but in reverse.

I should have got the train home instead, but the line is flooded between two particular stops. This happens regularly ever since they replaced the traditional loose stones along that stretch with concrete in some sort of noise-deadening exercise, which I suppose I have to admit is a success since there are far fewer trains making noise on the line than there were before.

That particular part of the line between Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire was known as the Atmospheric railway and was built in 1843. In 1843 trains ran along it. In 2013 you can’t guarantee that they will on any wet day. That’s progress, Irish Rail style.

In fairness to them, it’s raining. In Ireland. In March. Who’da thought.

If today’s traffic chaos was because of bush fires, or tectonic plate activity, or the eruption of a volcano that we didn’t know we had, then you’d feel sympathy for the haplessness of the people who control our roads and our railways. With rain, not so much.

In fairness to them again, though (I have to be fair, otherwise this might sound like a rant), it has been raining heavily. Not for days, or even weeks, but, well, since yesterday.

This will all be over by tomorrow. The waters will subside, everything will go back to normal, and absolutely nothing will be done to stop it happening again. That’s the way we do things here.

So here I am, home (in the pub) hours later than I should have been. Am I angry? Yes. Am I cold, wet and miserable?

No.

Because I left the house this morning wearing a coat and carrying an umbrella.

See, I live in Ireland. I thought it might rain.