Monday 23 October 2017

A sad and tragic end to 'good life' made by two brothers

Brothers Daniel (left) and William McCarthy (right) were much respected neighbours
Brothers Daniel (left) and William McCarthy (right) were much respected neighbours
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Daniel was always quiet and shy. Liam talked for them both. Born profoundly deaf, the two McCarthy brothers were sent from their home in Glens, outside Dingle, Co Kerry, at a very young age as boarders to St Joseph's Home for Deaf Boys in Cabra in the hope of making a better life for themselves.

And that was how it turned out.

Gardai at the brothers' home in Bluebell, Dublin Photo: Arthur Carron
Gardai at the brothers' home in Bluebell, Dublin Photo: Arthur Carron

"They had a good life for themselves in Dublin," said one of their closest neighbours in West Kerry.

When the brothers left St Joseph's as young men, they "fell into jobs", Liam working as a shoemaker in a small repairs shop in Terenure village while both also worked in factories for years and bought the neat little house in the Millrose Estate in Bluebell, West Dublin, "off their own steam".

Liam (76) and Daniel (73) had regular visits from their sister, Angela, who was also deaf and when their parents were alive, had spent every summer at the family homestead amid the majestic scenic surrounds of the foothills of Mount Brandon.

Only last month, they had been down to visit their younger brother Eamonn, helping out on the farm at the busiest time of the year.

They were like the rest of the McCarthy family - quiet, hardworking and sociable.

"Theirs wasn't a tragic story - though it was tragic in the end," he said, adding that what happened to Liam and Daniel McCarthy at the end "could happen anywhere."

The brothers Daniel and Liam McCarthy Photo: Deaf Heritage Centre
The brothers Daniel and Liam McCarthy Photo: Deaf Heritage Centre

"It's hard on the family here because it's something we often hear about but that you don't think will visit your own doorstep," he said.

The brothers' remains will return to Dingle after a funeral Mass today at the Emmaus Chapel in Deaf Village Ireland on the Ratoath Road in Cabra.

Another Mass will take place at St Mary's Church in Dingle tomorrow, with a Mass before burial together at St Brendan's Cemetery.

It follows an end of heartbreaking sadness that has left the wider community examining its conscience over how easily isolated elderly people can be left to suffer in silence amid the chronic 'busyness' of modern society.

Read more: 'We're all so busy these days, to think of them just lying there is heartbreaking' - Neighbours in shock after brothers died in house

In the early hours of Tuesday morning last, a garda - alerted by two friends from the deaf community - climbed a ladder borrowed from a neighbour and shining a torch into an upstairs bedroom window, discovered the tragic remains. It is thought Liam may have died some weeks ago and Daniel, who was more dependent, died last weekend.

Daniel had been seen by friends outside the house last Thursday but had seemed "lost for words" and he would not let them in.

In a note found at the scene, he had written that his brother was sick, poignantly adding: "I don't know what to do."

Several neighbours in the estate, who did not speak sign language, recalled them as "so quiet".

But that was refuted by friend Fergus Dunne who first met the brothers many years ago at the old Deaf Club in Rathmines in Dublin, where many members of the deaf community would meet regularly.

He and his wife had enjoyed chatting with Liam, while their children would watch his command of sign language "with awe," he said, describing Liam as "so polite and good-mannered."

He recalled a conversation which Liam had again conducted in "beautiful sign language and gestures," expressing his concerns about the dangers of using the ATM alone, "highlighting the vulnerability of any elderly person, both deaf and hearing in everyday life."

Liam had continued to work as a handiman, mostly painting, and Fergus recalled the quality of his work.

In 2011, Liam was touched by a surprise 70th birthday party organised by friends.

The deaf community are now struggling to deal with the sad end to the lives of the two brothers.

But Sean Moynihan of Alone, the elderly support organisation said, with one in three people over the age of 65 living alone, it is a "very simple journey" for anyone to become disconnected from society, even without a disability.

"People think of rural isolation but it is urban and rural alike," he said, adding that home help can act as an 'early warning system'.

"The Minister announced funding of €40m which is 300,000 home help hours but that still doesn't put us back to where we were in 2010 - and since then we have an extra 120,000 people over 65," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News