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“A GAA Science Fiction Story for all Ages.”
Featuring the artwork of Paul Diamond
Two year old Darby Cregan pattered over to the window and peered out. He pushed his face against the cold glass in excited anticipation. “There baby, your daddy will be home soon,” called Maria Cregan from the kitchen.
“What’s he doing”? asked twelve year old Dónal, annoyed by the distraction from the television. “He’s waiting on his Dad coming home, which is more than could be said for you,” replied his mother curtly. Dónal muttered under his breath and returned to the T. V.
Maria walked over to the front window and gently patted Darby on his head. “There you are, he’s home,” she said smiling to herself.
Her husband Rónán had just pulled up in his car outside the house and was busy locking the car up. This of course being Belfast it required a heavy duty chain being wrapped around the cars steering column. Maria opened the door and Darby bolted passed her and jumped excitedly on his master. “Get down you bloody mutt,” said Rónán in a kind voice. He was glad of the attention. Darby always knew how to say hello.
“How was your day?” Maria asked her husband. “To be honest, it was a switch off one.” “I sat down at 9:00am at a desk and the next thing I remember is leaving it at 5:00pm”. “Apart from a few jokes with Tommy, Jill, Tina, Jenny and Adam, I honestly don’t think I did anything or said anything or thought anything.”
“Yes, it was pretty ordinary.” “What about you?” He asked with a wry grin.
“Well I was up to the usual,” Maria replied.
“Which was?” asked Rónán.
“Just making sure the good people of Belfast get their drugs,” she replied.
“I thought it was a Doctor’s Surgery you worked in,” said Rónán smiling.
“Yes Dear, dinners in the microwave,” replied Maria not rising to the bait.
“Great, I’m starving, I swam twenty five lengths of the pool and did Gerry’s circuit class today at lunch time.” “I actually feel quite tired,” said Rónán yawning.
“Have Eoghan or Dónal got training or matches tonight?” asked Maria. “No, nothing this evening,” said Rónán as he sat down to a piping hot fish, peas and creamed potatoes.
Some three hours later Darby had decided to lie his head on his masters lap. This was the time honoured signal for “It’s my walk time!”
“Let me see this programme first Darby“, said Rónán looking at the dogs unforgiving eyes. “All bloody right then , lets go, he called in an exasperated tone.
Darby signalled his satisfaction by spinning around in circles as if he was trying to catch his tail. “He’s the stupidest dog in Ireland.” “Where’d we get him from?”
“Naas!” “Why did I ever drive all the way to Naas to buy a bloody dog?” Rónán asked his wife enquiringly.
“You tell me,” came the reply. “Was it not something to do with it’s a breed I know and they’re good looking.” “Well now you have a good looking stupid dog!”
“What, just one?” Rónán had just got the word “one” out of his mouth when a cushion whacked him in the face sending Darby into another ‘circle frenzy.’
“Give Dónal a shout, it’s only half nine,” said Maria. “DÓNAL, do you want to go for a walk with Darby and me,” shouted Rónán up the stairs.
Dónal shouted back, “Yes, give me a minute.”
Some ten minutes later with one lively Red Setter in harness and poop scoop in hand they set off up Ellistrin Avenue and down towards Crovehy Park. As it was July it was still quite bright and you could see right across Belfast Lough to the north Down coastline. Rónán looked up at the sky, despite it being the summer the sky still had a dirty polluted look to it.
“You know Dónal when we’re looking this way Belfast looks like all post industrial towns…..pretty miserable but when we look this way.” Rónán turned around and faced the large picturesque dark mountain rising up from behind the house. “We can see the Belfast Hills and Cavehill right above us.” “I suppose it’s a case of the glass or town in this case being half full or half empty.” “What do you think?”
Dónal thought for a second, looked both ways and replied. “Well Uncle Liam always says that the town is half full.” “So I’ll go with that.”
“Very funny young man, just keep an eye on that horse you’re holding there,” replied Rónán smiling to himself.
“In fact give here him to me for a minute.” Darby always took a few minutes to settle when he first went out for a walk and would tug strongly on his lead until he drew tired. The three walkers turned into Crovehy Park. Rónán liked the houses in the area. There were so many designs and shapes from the Victorian area to the present. They became silent and walked steadily along.
Suddenly Rónán felt an aching feeling in both of his arms. He gave the leash to Dónal. The pain increased dramatically and he felt as if both arms had been placed in a Medieval stretching machine. “Jesus, my arms are sore!” he muttered, cursing to himself. With in thirty seconds a vice like grip took hold of the centre of his chest. He stumbled forward and held onto a lamp post. “Dónal, give us a minute,” he said putting all reasoning and rational thinking out of his head.
“I need to sit down for a minute.” He sat down heavily on the kerb but could feel nothing but the pain in his arms and chest. “Lets’ go home Dónal, I’m not feeling so well,” he said sounding short of breath.
“Do you want me to get Mum?” asked Dónal. He could sense something was wrong.
“No, no, I’ll be alright.” “Just take it easy on the way home.” “They had only walked about a third of a mile when they arrived back.”
“You weren’t gone long,” said Maria. “I don’t feel great, said Rónán. “My arms and chest are killing me.” “WHAT!” said Maria in an urgent tone.
“I’ll be alright,” “It must be something I ate,” replied Rónán who was now kneeling against the settee with his head buried in the cushions. “Oh for Gods sake wise up, your having a heart attack.” “I’m ringing an ambulance,” shouted Maria nervously.
“No you’re not, I’m not wasting anybody’s time,” replied Rónán who had now managed to sit down on the settee. “It’s a bit better now,” Rónán announced. “You’ll have to go to the hospital,” demanded Maria looking quite flushed.
“No, I’m not,” replied Rónán. This exchange went on for several more minutes.
“OK then, I’ll go to the hospital but I’m having a shower first,” conceded Rónán marching shakily off upstairs.
“CHRIST”, screamed Maria to herself.
Twenty minutes later a clean, pleasant smelling, freshly attired with the customary clean underpants, Rónán appeared.
“Right, let’s go and I’m driving.”
The journey to the Mater Hospital was some ten minutes from their house but they had to park some 200m from the main casualty block. The time was 10:45pm and the casualty didn’t appear busy. They approached the counter and gave details of the patient and what had happened. They were told to sit and wait for a call from the Triage nurse. Maria turned back nervously to the receptionist and said “But he has chest pains.”
Ten uncomfortable minutes later Rónán muttered, “if I’m not seen by anyone in the next five minutes I’m going home.” Maria went up to the counter and approached the friendly receptionist.
“My husband is having”….just at that moment a call came over the tannoy. “Would Rónán Cregan go to the Triage Nurse. “That’s me!” said Rónán and he walked gingerly over to the small office.
“Suspected chest pains,” said the efficient lady nurse. “Let me take your blood pressure.” Rónán was now beginning to feel bored and began to look around the small cramped office. He didn’t notice the shocked look on the nurses face or how quickly she left the room. He however did take notice of the young doctor who appeared suddenly and asked him to put some bitter pill under his tongue. Rónán thought to himself why are casualty doctors always so young looking.
He was immediately whisked around to the A & E cubicles where a team of “health professionals” began working on him. An uncomfortable injection straight into the stomach followed and a spaghetti junction of wires were stuck all over his chest and abdomen before he was wheeled away to I.C.U.
Still in shock and not believing what was happening Rónán announced that he was going home and proceeded to remove the various bits and pieces of equipment that were stuck to or in various parts of his body. Two ICU nurses proceeded to pounce on him and professionally informed him that “he had suffered an extremely traumatic event and was justified in feeling very confused and frightened but was not leaving the hospital.” After a few more minutes of wrestling he decided it would be best to wait until the morning. He couldn’t understand why he felt so weak and why he’d had a heart attack at aged forty two.
It’s funny how early you wake up in a hospital. Maybe it’s the noise or smell or different voices. During the night some very pleasant Asian lady kept appearing and giving him an injection into his stomach which by now was starting to ache and was black with the bruising. A war of attrition broke out between this patient and his nurse. He needed to go to the toilet but was told that he was not allowed to leave the bed. Rónán couldn’t accept this. If he went to the toilet in bed he was dead, over and out. There was no way that he was going to fill one of those odd shaped egg boxes.
He’d sooner die first. He waited.
He saw his chance. The nurses had disappeared for a second. He quickly disconnected the main plugs to the monitors and took off the blood pressure and pulse readers and made a dash or shuffle to the toilet which was some twenty feet away. He made it……..
The Last Hurling Game in Mid Tipperary
By Shane Caldwell
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