Monday 18 December 2017

A love between two brothers that we could all learn from

Daniel McCarthy was so devoted to and dependent on William he couldn't bear to leave his dead brother's side, says Brendan O'Connor

A sorry tale: A garda stands outside McCarthy brothers' home in Bluebell. Photo: Arthur Carron
A sorry tale: A garda stands outside McCarthy brothers' home in Bluebell. Photo: Arthur Carron

Do you find yourself haunted by the image of poor Daniel McCarthy staying by the side of his dead brother William? What went through his mind in his final days? William had been the one who looked after them both. William kept the house. He kept the front of it well. He was a painter and a handyman, doing jobs for people in the deaf community among others, and the house looks neatly painted and tidily kept. The back was a different story. Some of the windows were boarded up because apparently youths along the canal behind the house would throw stones at the window. One neighbour spoke of one window just remaining broken with the curtains blowing out through it and birds coming and going. William was the one who drove the car too. Daniel was more often seen around on his bike and was, by all accounts, regarded as the odder of the two.

Of these two brothers, both seemingly cut off from the mainstream world due to their deafness and their inability to speak except in Irish sign language (ISL), a limiting language, William seems to have been the one who dealt with what you might call, 'the outside world'. And William, who probably needed to be cared for himself, cared for his brother until the end.

And when William was gone it seems that Daniel didn't know where to turn, didn't know what to do without William. William dying was one of those situations that William would have known how to deal with. But William of course was gone, and with him not only was Daniel's window on the world gone, in a way, Daniel's world was gone. There is almost a tragic beautiful sadness about the fact that Daniel didn't leave his brother's side, an epic, timeless quality of loyalty and devotion. But of course Daniel didn't leave William's side presumably because Daniel didn't know where to go, who to turn to in that forbidding world outside, how to communicate, who to communicate with.

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