Every accident is followed by many hours of discussion, reflection and talk. It’s in our nature to analyse events and our responses to them. What could have been and what should have been, how it could have been avoided and how it could have been worse, are all areas of debate. However gratitude to so many people is my overriding feeling over the past week.

And so ………

Thank you to :Trá Bán Sherkin Island

Vivien, without whom I would be lost. These few words sum up what I could say and feel but really words alone would not do justice to how she cared for and worried about me on that beach pictured above.

Willie and Kathleen from Wexford who stayed with us and kept us company and did all they could to help.

Seán, aged 12, who was sent down to the beach with his bike by his mother, offering me the use of it to get back up the boreen to the road. A lovely gesture which resulted in him getting his legs stung by nettles.

Sherkin Island Ferries who contacted the taxi.

Dan O’Reilly the taxi man who arrived quickly with a first aid kit and seeing that it was of no use to me, contacted the coast guard. He stayed with us for over an hour,no doubt losing out on buiness and gave Vivien a lift back to the ferry free of charge.

RNLI rib crew Pat O’Driscoll, Jerry Smith and Colin Rochford, all volunteers, who evacuated me. Also the shore crew Tom Kelly, Seamus O’Driscoll and Kate Callanan, none of whom I met but who I now know were available and working in the background. Especially Kate who was so helpful to Vivien.

The ambulance crew who saw to me on the quayside and transported me to Bantry Hospital, at all times exuding professionalism, courtesy and good cheer.

Man On The Road who was of great assistance to Vivien as she drove the road from Baltimore to Bantry, lost and with the starting motor acting up. A total stranger giving her his mobile number and insisting that she call him if she encountered any other difficulties.

Bantry Hospital staff whose names I didn’t get but who treated with me with great care. After the stitches and tetanus injection the cup of tea and toast was wonderful.

Katie, my step-daughter, who offered to drive from Kildare if needed. And she would have.

Family and friends whose concern, good wishes and slagging brought smiles to our faces.

The following is what happened.

20170723_131147[1]Vivien and I took the ferry out from Baltimore to Sherkin Island last Sunday. A glorious day. The sea was calm and small clouds hung motionless in a blue sky. We had intended to return to Kildare that day, but the weather was too good to be wasted on a three and a half hour car journey.

“Good call Viv,” I said.

“We’re not there yet !” was her response. Black humour as always to the fore !

We sauntered along the quiet country lanes, our senses open to and gorging themselves on the beauty all around. Land, sea and sky bombarding us with delight after delight. We headed down a fuchsia lined, grass-carpeted boreen and on to the far end of a small horseshoe-shaped beach by paddling in the clear , warm water. Small jellyfish bobbing in the water was not a welcome sight to Viv.

We had a light lunch and while I was thinking of a swim ( jellyfish not withstanding ), we noticed the tide was coming in and would eventually cover the rocks which protruded out from the center of the beach, thus cutting us off. We decided to pack up and head back to where we could relax and enjoy more of the afternoon. No panic but at the same time, getting a move on, I didn’t bother to cover the sharp point of a steak knife I saw sticking out of the top of my rucksack. That, as it turned out, was a big mistake. Possibly mistake number one.

Viv went ahead and when she got to the rocks waded knee-high through the water, wary of jellyfish, ’til she got to the sand on the other side. I decided to walk over the rocks rather than go through the water. It had nothing to do with the depth of the water or the dangers of jelly fish. I just decided. Simple as that. Mistake number two. The large rounded stones were uncomfortable on my bare feet so, I dropped the rucksack, I put on one sandal and then slipped.

There was no pain but, blood pouring from my ankle and the sight of the blood soaked knife, led to a loud torrent of expletives and a reprimand from Viv who, of course, having her back to me, didn’t see nor could have known, what had happened. I could see the cut on my ankle and I thought that was where all the blood was coming from. I put my other sandal on my injured foot and made my way gingerly to the sand, all the while fearing another slip on my blood soaked sandal.

I lay back on the sand and called Viv. She immediately saw I was in difficulty and rushed over to me.

” Raise up your leg and let me have a look. You’re sliced along the side of your foot to your toes.”

So it wasn’t just the ankle. Blood was staining the sand and soaking my rucksack which was now supporting my foot. Calmly and indeed, professionally, Viv washed as much blood as she could off with antiseptic wipes, put a covering on the wound and secured it with a number of plasters. It’s always amazing and at times, fortuitous, what women carry in their shoulder bags ! We covered the whole lot with a sock hoping it would hold it all together. However as soon as I stood up blood soaked through. We knew immediately I could not go anywhere as I was.

The only other people on the beach, a couple, came over. Knowing nobody on the island he rang the ferry company who in turn rang a local taxi driver who arrived within a very short space of time with a first aid kit. He knew immediately he could not do any thing. The coastguard was called and they dispatched a rib to the island to evacuate me. Brought back to the coastguard station, put in an ambulance and brought to Bantry hospital. Three stitches and a tetanus shot later Viv arrived, collected me and brought me home to Clonakilty.

The wine, beer and pizza topped off another eventful day in the lives of Vivien and Billy.

As I said what I’ve been thinking about and thankful for in the intervening week is the help received from so many strangers. Up to 20 at the last count. And those people are really what I intended this post to be about.


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