Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


Don’t Panic

Since Wednesday live has been fairly normal in our house. Fred went back to school as if nothing had happened. The teachers and pupils all looked at him with concern but they needn’t have been; Fred had bounced back as if nothing had happened.  The hospital, high temperature, chest infection had all been forgotten, Fred was back and that was all that mattered. Kids seem to take everything in their stride and just get on with life. Certainly our Fred just walked in the gate and past Denise as if to say ‘all right let’s get this over with so I can go home again.’

As he walked in Denise, looking concerned asked:

“How are you Fred?”

“Oh fine,” Fred said as if he’d never been away.

You got to admire those powers of recovery.

Before Fred had involved himself in the latest drama we had planned to go on drive and get a hot chocolate on the way. So on Wednesday afternoon the two of us set off to do a few jobs and get a cup of hot chocolate. We parked up in town and walked over to get some money from the cash machine. After getting the messages we set off on our drive and some drinks for ourselves.  Driving down the street I spotted a friend and stopped to say hello. John hadn’t met Fred before and was delighted to eventually get to shake his hand.

“Where are you two off to?” John asked.

“Oh to get some hot chocolate in a cup, a proper cup,” said Fred, doing the movement of holding up a cup by its handle, “and a coffee for my Dad, in the restaurant.”

It seemed that Fred wanted a sit down hot chocolate and the idea appealed to me too. So on saying goodbye to John we set off back down the mean streets of Tralee and parked as close to the Grand Hotel as possible.

The two of us approached the fine doors of this old hotel and Fred said “but this is the restaurant for fish soup.”

“Yes,” I said, “but they also do hot chocolates.”

“Cool,” Fred said pushing open the freshly polished, heavy door.

Inside we sat at the high stools around a small table. Fred loved it looking around at all that was happening in the busy restaurant and soon the waitress who seems to have been there forever, came over to take our order.

“Excuse me,” said Fred, his manners shining through, “can I have a cup of hot chocolate please and a cup of coffee for my Dad.”

The order was taken and we sat waiting. Soon afterwards a big mug of foamy hot chocolate topped off with marshmallows was placed in front of the man. My cup of coffee looked inadequate in comparison.

“Wow,” said Fred, the eyes popping out of his head. For a minute or so he just sat looking at it, stirring the marshmallows around the foam, smiling in anticipation.

There was also a biscuit to with it and I gave Fred mine saying:

“Don’t tell Mummy.” That always adds an element of indulgence to a trip out.

“I won’t,” answered Fred without looking up.

For the next while we supped our drinks and looked around at what was happening. Fred asked about the beers and what the different taps served. I tried to explain that the black tap served Guinness which was the best drink and the other taps served only lagers and ales.

“They would make you sick?” asked Fred.

“If you drank too much yes,” I answered, without claiming any prior knowledge.

There was a man sitting at the bar, a man I’ve seen many times around town. He always wears a suit with a fine flat cap over his head of grey hair. In winter days he has a black great coat on and he strides around with the gait of a gentleman. Once I pointed him out to Lisa and said it looks like he comes from “good old stock.” That phrase always comes back to me when I see him and spotting him sitting at the bar of an old hotel seemed to fit my image of him perfectly. The cap was on but the great coat was hanging on the coat hook, like a gentleman would, not draped over the back of his seat like others.  He ordered a pint of Guinness which was a perfect example to show Fred of how a pint needs to be poured and left to settle. Fred watched the process, fascinated with the black pint and the collar of white cream forming at its head.

When our time was up, our drinks drank, I suggested we go. Fred didn’t want to leave, he was loving the watching, the observing of the habits of a hotel bar on a wet afternoon, the people coming and going and so was I. It was time to collect Ruby from school though and leave we did.

Back in the car Fred said:

“I liked it in the restaurant Daddy, can we go back again?”

“Of course,” I said, delighted that it had all gone so smoothly.

On Friday evening we had a few jobs to do, in and out of the house and by 5.30pm it was just Fred and I catching up on time while the girls went to the gym. It suddenly occurred to me that we’d forgotten Fred’s five o’clock medicines. It’s important to keep to a regular schedule with the meds and with all our jobs we’d forgotten the evening dose. Fred swallowed the pills and went back to watching TV while I started on dinner.



When Lisa and Ruby came back I went to off-licence to get some beer for a night out. One of our five-aside football players had snapped his Achilles tendon while on the pitch last week and as he couldn’t go out it was thought we’d bring the beer to him. A pure act of selfless care if there ever was one and Finbarr was only too happy with the arrangement.

When I got back with my box of beer Lisa was in a terrible panic. Fred was sitting up looking at me on the couch.

“You gave him his medicines and so did I, before I went out,” Lisa was saying, checking on a fairly dazed looking Fred.

Those meds are strong and the fear of an overdose chilled me. Liver function is the usual side effect but you never know with the meds. Stupidly the two of us were looking online which only gave us the worst case scenario, cardiac arrest, liver failure and you name it.

I rang Temple Street.

They put me through to the reg on call and the first thing she said was;

“Don’t panic this happens to parents all the time, just tell me what he’s had,”

This I did and she went away to check what to do.

After a minute she was back...

“Well what you just gave him would still be under his daily allowance so you’re way off an overdose,” the relief was massive, “the only thing to worry about would be a difficulty in breathing from the Rivitrol, very unlikely given the small amount taken and that would have happened after a few minutes.”

“Thank you so much,” was all I could say. I had the phone on speaker and Lisa standing beside me visibly relaxing as she listened.

“One thing is certain he won’t be having any seizures tonight,” the doctor said as we said goodbye.

She doesn’t know our Fred, I thought.

There never isn’t a moment of drama in our Fred’s life.



Posted by John Verling

Filed under: News Leave a comment
Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

No trackbacks yet.