Tralee Life Life In An Irish Town


What comes after Macroom?

Another week of Fred’s holidays. Seven days of nothing to do and all day to do it. Mind you Fred found plenty of opportunity to fight with his Mum or get in trouble with his Dad. That last cluster has affected us and knocked us out of the relaxed state into which we’d slipped. If Lisa is with Fred she is constantly out on the estate looking for him or just watching the man. When I’m in charge I try to encourage him inside which isn’t fair on him at all.

On Friday morning I was in my office on the top floor and could see Lisa looking around for Fred over by the green. It was obvious she couldn’t see him and I was trying not to get anxious. One of the men cutting the grass pointed to a spot behind the houses, a blind spot really. From my window I watched Lisa disappear down the nook and waited for her to come back into view. I waited and I waited. Just as I was getting out of my seat to run out the two reappeared. Fred carrying a big bunch of sticks which he struggled across the tarmac with and dropped into the boot of the car. Down I went to investigate and it turned out he’d been collecting wood for Aunty Clare’s fire; Friday was also the day we were going on a little holiday.

All week Fred was asking of when we were going to Aunty Clare’s house. It was all he wanted to do, go to Aunty Clare’s, have dinner, sleep there, see Granddad Jimmy and Uncle Bill. We had planned on Tuesday but I had work commitments and though I drove down it was only to drop Ruby before I headed to Dublin. When I got back Wednesday evening Fred was very cross that I’d slept in Aunty Clare’s house and wouldn’t talk to me. Poor little man just didn’t want to be left out and it was worthless trying to explain.

The other side of the proposed trip is that any misdemeanour or dissent, no matter how small was met with “there’ll be no Aunty Clare’s if...”It worked to an extent as Fred was much more open to going to the library or speech therapy. Fred’s normal reaction to any formal appointment is to say no but this week the alternative wasn’t worth contemplating. We’ll have to see if the spirit of cooperation will carry over to this week.

Fred has been getting speech therapy,on and off for the last year, to help with his conversational skills . The problem with Fred’s condition, a mixture of the meds, the epilepsy and just being a boy, is that his concentration is very poor. Fred will be in mid-conversation and he’ll just drift away...

“Well, I was in the car with Mummy,” he’ll start to tell you about an incident...

Then silence. You’ll look at him but he’ll be distracted looking out the window or at a book or whatever is on the TV.

“Fred,” you’ll try to call him back

“Yes?” he’ll look at you, focusing on you slowly.

“Fred!” you’ll try again

“Yes my Dad?”

“What happened with Mummy?”


“Turn off the TV and tell me about being in the car with Mummy,” for TV you can substitute book, window, computer etc.

“Oh all right,” he’ll say resignedly before starting back at “well, I was in the car with Mummy and ...” at which stage you’ll probably get the full story.

So the speech therapy is all about listening, concentrating and finishing conversations. All very difficult when your brain is doped with strong meds, working at a slower rate and trying to keep up with the pace of what is happening. When Fred is drawing or building something there isn’t any delay; it just seems to affect him when listening and in conversation.

Friday we were ready to go.

“I’m so excited about going to Aunty Clare’s!” Fred exclaimed when he woke.

All morning was about preparing. Packing the car with his toys, the firewood and anything else needed. After breakfast Fred asked what were the towns we were going through to get to Waterford. He got his little spiral notebook and pen. I called out each town, spelled it slowly and Fred transcribed, putting a little box after each one. It was in his hand all morning and when it was time to leave Fred had it to the ready.

“What town is first?” he asked, more than once.

“Killarney,” I answered.

When we reached Killarney it was ticked off and the next one was asked about and the next until we passed Dungarven, all more than once. Luckily Fred had a snooze along the way...

Fred knows the beginning of the lane to Aunty Clare’s as ‘Aunty Clare’s trees’ and after passing Dungarven he began looking for them. About twenty minutes later the shout of “Aunty Clare’s trees,” came from the back and we had arrived.

The hugs and kisses were monumental; Aunty Clare was knocked off her feet. Everyone else was greeted; the boxes of toys brought in and the chatting began. After a big dinner, lots of wine and more chatting, it was nearly 11pm. Fred and I went off to bed, the tired but very contented little man was asleep in my arms within minutes.

During the night Fred rolled over in his deep sleep...

“What comes after Macroom?” he asked for about the twentieth time that day.

Yesterday evening we came home after visiting Granddad Jimmy.

In bed, just before going to sleep Fred said...

“I’m glad to be back home Dad.”

‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán fein,’ I suppose.




Posted by John Verling

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