Too Old for the Road: 6 charming and moving moments from wonderful RTE documentary
Several Irish documentaries from the wonderful 'His & Hers' and 'Mom and Me' from director Ken Wardrop to Alex Fegan's 'Older than Ireland' have shone a light on the lives of elderly people in Ireland in recent years.
RTE's latest offering, Too Old For The Road, which aired on RTE One tonight was in a similar vein, this time focusing on the importance of being able to drive for elderly Irish people's independence and ability to stay connected with friends and family and society.
It was enlightening, often funny and, at times, hugely moving as issues ranging from failing eyesight to rural isolation impacted on their lives.
Here are 10 of the most magical and moving moments:
1. Michael (84) getting emotional about being separated from his beloved wife Margaret
One of the most heartbreaking stories came from Michael from Kilkenny who is suffering from age-related macular degeneration, an eye condition for which there is no cure.
Despite needing a magnifying glass to read, Michael still drives 30 minutes to a nursing home to visit his wife of 55 years, Margaret. However, his driving license expires in a few months and with a renewal unlikely he does not know how he will be able to visit her as there is no public transport.
Michael, who lives alone, revealed he's a "stew man", cooking himself a big pot every week and eating it for five or six days. He has a son who occasionally drives him around when he can, but his son is leaving for Thailand soon.
Speaking about Margaret and why she lives in a nursing home, Michael became very emotional.
"I wasn't able to look after her, you see, when I had the operation," he explained. "I was months in hospital and she had a couple of strokes and then she had to go into hospital.
"They wouldn't let her out of the hospital. They wouldn't let her back here. They said it wasn't safe for her. So they got her into Thomastown.
"We'll be married 55 years in September. That's a long time. It's terrible to be getting old. Nobody wants you. Hospitals don't want you. Nursing homes... well."
Margaret suffers from dementia, but loves to go out so John takes her out for lunch every Sunday.
"I don't know what the future holds," he said. "But that's life, you take it as it comes. But it throws all kinds of things at you."
2. Joan's raspy giggle
Joan O'Rurke (86) lives in rural Co. Galway and she was summonsed to appear in court having ignored a fixed charge penalty notice for speeding.
"For the life of me I can't see myself speeding down the road at 86 years of age!" she exclaimed before adding, "I'll be on camera anyway so it must be true."
Joan's daughter Bereneice took her to Galway Circuit Court to face the judge and on the way she joked, "We'll go somewhere nice for lunch - Limerick jail!"
Joan was what you would call a character, revealing her top tip for hiding scratches on her car...
"It's a great car, brand new," she said. "I do painting. If I scratch that car I go out and I get my paintbrush out there and I cover it up. Sure look, do you know the difference?"
She also revealed that she told her driving instructor that she had to do her shopping so he brought her in to Dunnes and did it with her.
3. Anne going to the ball - heart condition or no heart condition.
Anne (88) has atrial fibrillation, but that doesn't stop her living life to the full.
"One of the last times it happened was at The Savoy Cinema," she said. "The place was swarming with guards because there were all sorts of VIP people at the film. They got an ambulance and they said they were taking me to hospital. I said, 'Not at all! I'm going to a ball in the Burlington tonight. I'm not going to no hospital!" So I wouldn't go and I went to the ball in the Burlington and I'd a great time!"
Anne then revealed her heart had actually stopped for two minutes.
4. John (101) grassing on his mates.
"I'm a bit surprised to be driving at the moment but I don't seem to be making mistakes," said the Tipperary man, who drives an electric car to help preserve the environment. "I am very determined that if I feel I'm dangerous I'll stop. I had two friends here, both of whom... I think they were really driving by feel."
5. John (75) and his old school ice-cream van.
Dubliner John's been driving the same ice-cream van in the city for 50 years, doing the same route every day. He's self employed and not entitled to the State pension so he still relies on his job for an income.
6. Joan speaking about her son who had passed away.
Speaking about her family, Joan revealed her husband had died of cancer and her son Ciaran had also passed away.
"I don't show my feelings much at all. I might be smiling or acting the fool or something like that," she said. "I thought if Ciaran was here now [when she received the summons], he was full of the divil. From laughing thinking of him it went the other way... if only he was here. Stupid way to think. He can't be here."
Ciaran drowned in New Zealand. Joan revealed what she was thinking the night she found out he had died; "Why didn't he listen? Why didn't he this...? But he was a bit like his mother. His mother don't listen either!"
Too Old for the Road is available on RTE iPlayer.