World of Politics with Harry McGee – email@example.com
Those video clips of Martin McGuinness taken in early January are still raw. To see a colossus of republicanism reduced by serious illness to such a frail and unhealthy figure was deeply shocking to everybody.
Sinn Féin and the republican community tried to put a brave face on it. But everybody knew that McGuinness was “ag snámh in aghaidh easa” as they say in Connemara, that the condition was terminal.
In The Irish Times we disclosed that he was suffering from amyloidosis. It is caused by the abnormal buildup of protein deposits in tissues and organs. It eventually attacks the heart. The genetic condition is extremely rare and, in fact, can be traced back to a single individual in Inishowen in Co. Donegal. It is terminal, taking on average six years from inception to death. By the time McGuinness received his diagnosis last winter, the condition was far advanced, and his chances of recovery were nil.
It was a wrench for him to stand down from office in January. His farewell to the people of the Bogside was captured on a grainy video. We saw him weep in public for perhaps the only time. We also saw his wife, Bernie, (who has always remained in the background) move around quickly to embrace him and comfort him at the time of distress.
His death was announced just after dawn on Tuesday, by a Sinn Féin statement that was closely followed by a message from the President Michael D Higgins.
For the party leader, Gerry Adams, the loss of the man who had shared the long hard road with him to peace must have been particularly hard.
No life is easily assessed so close to the time of death, especially one that was so complex and contradictory as that as McGuinness. He was second-in-command of the IRA at the time of Bloody Sunday. There is no doubt he was Chief of Staff of the IRA in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at a time when the IRA dispatched a lot of people (many of them innocent bystanders) to early graves.
He had a fair quotient of Derry charm that Adams could not muster in equal measure. In the eyes of many that made him the more approachable and palatable of the two members of the Northern republican leadership. But in some ways that was deceptive. As in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage, it is the “laughing boy”, the gregarious one, that you have to watch most closely. When the time came for the IRA volunteers to call ceasefires and ultimately lay down their arms, it was reportedly McGuinness, the soldier who did most of the persuading and the bidding.
But once he crossed the Rubicon, everything changed. Everything that had been used to prosecute the war was now used to prosecute the peace, but the transition was not quite as seamless as that.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Exploring the merits of moving into the west
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.
“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.
These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.
But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.
Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.
One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.
The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing
A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.
They lifted and footed his turf.
John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.
He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.
“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.
Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!
“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.
Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.
They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.
Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat
It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.
After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.
“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”
But it could have all been so different.
Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.
She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.
Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.
Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.
Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.