Monday 27 February 2017

The brave ballad of James McHale

Fiona O'Connell

He lived here in a mobile home, Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the breeze on decking that looks out over fields, trees, and an old stone bridge. The same one where his hearse paused after the humanist service, so mourners could cast flowers into the river.
He lived here in a mobile home, Tibetan prayer flags blowing in the breeze on decking that looks out over fields, trees, and an old stone bridge. The same one where his hearse paused after the humanist service, so mourners could cast flowers into the river.

Joe tells me that he had to cut down his hundred-year-old apple trees, after big storms knocked them about. But hopefully, he adds, in a year or two they will grow back.

It seems an appropriate answer, given that we are part of a gathering to bid farewell to James McHale. This actor and poet who hailed from Hell's Kitchen, New York, ended his days amid the loving support of his many friends around this country town that he long called home. But rallying around those in their hour of need is what we do so well. The Maria Keating Foundation meant that James was able to keep warm, without heating bills to add to the phenomenal woes of his last winter. His funeral service took place in the Kingsriver ­Community, where he spent his final weeks.

The centre provides residential and day-care programmes for adults and young people with special needs. But thanks to James's close friends, it extended its embrace to include this man whose days had been so starkly numbered.

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