Tuesday 18 September 2018

'You're not supposed to bury your children, it's too much' - Father who lost two sons

Aidan with his late son Darra. Credit: Aidan McNally
Aidan with his late son Darra. Credit: Aidan McNally
Baby Patrick died in 2011. Credit: Aidan McNally
Aidan's memoir 'Two Sons Too Many'. Credit: Aidan McNally
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A Dublin father who lost two of his sons in separate incidents has said he still struggles to come to terms with his loss.

Aidan McNally's 15-year-old son Darra died from Sudden Adult Dead Syndrome (SADS) in 2011.

Aidan said his son was a regular teenager who had displayed no signs of ill health leading up to his death. He was a great athlete who enjoyed football and hurling.

Speaking to RTE's Liveline, Aidan described how his ex-partner, Darra's mother, discovered that their son had passed away when she entered his room to wake him up for school.

"She found him dead one morning in the bed, a very healthy young man. He just didn't wake up," he said. "His mother had the misfortune of thinking he wasn't getting up for school."

In 2014 more tragedy struck when Aidan and his new partner, who were living in Costa Rica, visited their friends' house for the weekend. Their baby son Patrick walked out of his room and fell into the swimming pool. Aidan performed CPR on his son but it was too late, nothing could be done.

"It took me a long time to even be okay with being a father again with the shock of losing Darra and I was faced with [the death of] my second son, in the space of two-and-a-half years... having to have a funeral and bury him," he said.

"Once upon a time I used to tell people that the best day of my life ever was when Darra was born and at the time the worst day was burying my father... you don't know what's around the corner."

Baby Patrick died in 2011. Credit: Aidan McNally
Baby Patrick died in 2011. Credit: Aidan McNally

Aidan's tragedies inspired him to write his memoirs. The grieving father said he felt so disconnected from reality when he lost his two sons that he needed to write everything down to convince himself that it was real. He found himself asking the same questions repeatedly, "Is this even real? How could his happen not once but twice?"

"You're not supposed to bury your children, it's too much," he said.

The tragedies also forced Aidan to "reinvent" himself again.

Speaking to Liveline, he described how he was underwent self transformation before, when as a young man he ended up in St Patrick's Institution for juvenile offenders after abusing alcohol and drugs.

Aidan's memoir 'Two Sons Too Many'. Credit: Aidan McNally
Aidan's memoir 'Two Sons Too Many'. Credit: Aidan McNally

By 17 or 18, with the help of a priest in Cork, Aidan got his life back on track. He became a young father to Darra at 20 and started working as a commercial fisherman, travelling all over the world. He's been sober for 25 years.

Aidan said his life has been full of great "natural highs" but some of the "deepest, darkest lows" and he recounted these experiences in his book, Two Sons, Too Many.

Aidan encouraged listeners who might wish to help fund raise to check the CRY Ireland website, a charity that helps to raise awareness of SADS and provide counselling services for families affected by it.

Two sons, Too many by Aidan Mc Nally is Aidan's memoir and is available to buy on Amazon.

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