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Ignatius Gannon - The Marx's Brother's

The Marx’s Brother’s Rides Again in Dunlaoire

I had been sick for 3 months in Tallaght Hospital, I was pretty ill and found out later I was on deaths door as not many survive a brain haemorrhage. I was on my travels to DunLaoire rehab hospital. From all reports it was the bees knees I would be running around like a two year old when they finish with me or so I thought. My wife Pauline was trying to get me out there being of the same mind as me. This was a godsend. My first impression devastated me, the wards were dormitory style snobbery did not enter my psyche I was after coming form the lap of luxury being in a private room in Tallaght Hospital.

I could not remember the last time I was in a general ward it was in St Vincent’s on the Green in the late 50’s early 60’s when I had my appendix out. Brian Hyland was Number One with Ginnie Come Lately. This was different it was supposed to be my salvation. The nurse showed me to a bed, it looked like I was miles from the only television in the ward, and thinking back to Tallaght Hospital I had my own telly. The reason my thinking was that way inclined I had double vision and the further away you were the more pronounced it became. It was like one eye was on the top of your head, and the other was at your feet, seeing the screen that’s how it felt. When I watched telly before, I covered one eye but I was situated so far back I had no chance of seeing thetelevision double vision or not. The doctor came along to examine me, the nurse that came with me brought volumes of information with her on my condition.

The doctor’s still examined me from head to toe it took about an hour. It gave me no solace as to my salvation. It was no different from Tallaght Hospital, as I was still thinking to myself get me out of here! Little did I know that my association with DunLaoire was going to last 14 months as an inpatient and outpatient but that’s the way I felt and I was only 5 minutes in the place.

My wife was trying to put a brave face but her expression was priceless. I did not realise there was worse to come. I was the only one on the ward, everyone had gone home for the weekend and it was a long weekend, to put it mildly. Later on a lad came onto the ward to stay for the weekend he was in the same position as me, he was from West Cork and went home every four weeks. I had great fun over the weekend I fell out of bed because I had no feeling on the right side of my body. The narrowness of the bed lent itself to this happening given the condition I was in. When I turned on the right hand side of my body I levitated or so it felt. The nurse rectified that quickly by putting the bars up in the bed. It was not the last time I fell out of the bed, it was the longest weekend I ever put in, if you pardon the pun.

Monday night they all started to arrive back from their holidays from all over the country. With tongue in cheek that’s how I met John one of the Marx brothers Curly Mo! The other Marx brother Harpo would not arrive until the next day.Guess who was the third Marx brother? It was Mise Groucho! I introduced myself to Curly MO! It went down like a led balloon as Curly Mo could only utter a few words because his speech was affected. He was also in a wheelchair. He learned to speak and walk to a degree over the weeks to come. As the night wore on, I noticed a young lad crying when his parents left. This was a regular occurrence after the weekend or when new patients came in, some of them were grown men. It was understandable giving that they were from all over the country, as they would not have any visitors during the week. Harpo or Charlie arrived the next afternoon to a big fanfare. The nurses and attendants welcomed him back he had been gone for nearly 5 days, this was a regular stint for Harpo. A few weeks later Harpo went to a wedding he was missing for ten days. That night while we were having our late night cuppa Harpo and Curly Mo, were falling around laughing considering neither of them could talk, it was like One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest that Jack Nicholson starred in!  It wasn’t long before I joined in; it was over 3 months since I laughed so heartily Groucho I was aptly named! Some of the other patients asked me what the head cases where laughing at! I put them off by saying it was their way. What I really meant it was our way of dealing with our illness. Now I know what my mothers old saying was crying happy or crying sad, even though there was no sense or meaning to it. The young lad that cried each night asked me also about the laughing, I said I didn’t know but if he would like to joins us he was welcome. He came down the following night and every night there after. It made life a bit easier after all he was only seventeen.

The more I thought about Harpo and Curly Mo I could understand why they laughed so much. Confusion reigned supreme while they tried to communicate and it was natural for me to get in on the act because I wasn’t the best myself. I got to know all the others with the exception of one young man who did not talk to anyone I met him six months later in the training centre he’d came out of his shell slightly. As time went on I confronted a lot of my own demons, nearly getting slung out before my time arguing with the top doctor as to my condition. Harpo and Curly Mo left a couple of months later, Harpo leaving first, he never really got to grips with speaking. I often wonder how he got on. Curly Mo left the same time as me. My salvation was going to take a long time. Coming to terms with my condition it was going to be life long, and getting my heard around some of the challenges was going to be tough. Life throws up various obstacles which we have to meet, I hope and pray I’m on it. The Marxbrothers and the laugh we had each night made life bearable. Some of the cases were quite serious in Dun Laoire.

There was another aspect to Dun Laoire I forgot to mention the love my wife and family showed me while I was in Tallaght and Dun Laoire Hospital will sustain me forever.


Ignatius Gannon.


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