Callout raises smiles from little troopers
A bushy-bearded undercover cop – whose day job involves posing as a homeless man to bust unsuspecting drug dealers – was a big hit with the young patients of Temple Street Children's Hospital when the Massachusetts State Police force dropped in for a visit.
Marching in Cork's St Patrick's Day parade, the cops were literally off the plane – but were fighting off jet lag for a good cause. Showering the children with badges, colouring books and special little tokens, their presence enlivened the wards and brought smiles to little faces.
For little Ryan Guress (4), originally from Mauritius but living in Dublin, the effect was instantaneous, announcing to his parents: "I want to be a policeman."
"That's our job done right there," declared Colonel Timothy Alben, who has almost single-handedly wiped out the mafia in parts of his home state.
For Izzy O'Connell (6), from Youghal, Co Cork, who is receiving treatment for a brain tumour, the visit was almost up there with one from jockeys Davy Russell and Barry Geraghty the previous week.
"The police uniforms are nice – but not as good as daddy's," said her firefighter father Stephen with a wink.
Two-and-a-half-year-old Dearbhla Young from Cavan – who had just had surgery the previous day for a displaced hip – delighted the Americans with her mop of curly red hair. "She's the Irish cailin they wanted to meet," smiled mother Martina.
Massachusetts' finest have been visiting Ireland every second year since 1999 to march in St Patrick's Day parades around the country, in a mission close to the heart of organiser, trooper Mike O'Connor, who's married to a Limerick woman.