Sunday 16 June 2019

This Man's Life: There is a light that never goes out - and her name is Isabella

Isabella Lola McCoy
Isabella Lola McCoy
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

An evening at the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street 50-something years ago. It was, it transpired, a more eventful evening than usual in the illustrious baby producing machine.

My dad had brought a television - literally and clandestinely - under his arm into the hospital. My mother was expecting my big sister Karen at the time, so he wanted to do something extra special for his wife.

Little did he know that we would be still talking about it all these years later.

My dad Peter sneaked the telly in past the doctors, the nurses and the security, and made his way up the stairs where Karen was in my mum's tummy waiting to be born.

On a mission that only he was in on, my dad eventually made it to the ward on the top floor with his contraption. My mother was asleep in the bed, having a well-earned rest before her big ordeal. She perhaps didn't need another big ordeal before her big ordeal.

Be that as it may, my dad didn't want to wake Maureen until he had the surprise plugged in and up and running. He was doubtless expecting plenty of brownie points when mum woke up to see her surprise.

The surprise was not how my father - or the staff, or indeed the patients of Holles Street - had envisaged it.

When he plugged in the TV without permission into the wall beside my mother's bed, there was a loud burp from the plug socket. Within seconds, the ward went dark, and soon after the entire top floor of the hospital with nurses and doctors and orderlies suddenly rushing hither and yonder. It was like an Ealing comedy or a Carry On movie. Carry On Nurse! In Holles Street!

With that, my poor mother woke up with a start and, realising what my father had done - albeit with the best of intentions - shouted at him to get out!


Which he did - in the darkness, with the aforementioned TV set tucked guiltily under his oxter. He rushed down the stairs just as orderlies and the like were rushing up the stairs looking for the cause of the sudden - and potentially life-threatening - blackout in the hospital.

No one died, though my mother wanted to kill him.

Full electrics eventually restored, my sister Karen was born the following night in the light of a ward.

As fate would have it, last Thursday at 10.50am in the same hospital Karen's beautiful daughter Kerri O'Neill gave birth to 6lb 10oz uber-cutie cherub Isabella Lola McCoy, delivered by Dr Peter McPartlan.

Kerri's husband Mark was the proudest father in the known history of doting dads as he held the new arrival, as were the various members of the Egan, O'Neill and McCoy clans as they beamed at this magical young treasure for the first time.

And she was magic, this little bunny, as she radiated nothing short of a celestial joy that appeared to light up the entire ward - just as her great-grandfather had darkened it all those years ago.

In any event, she conveyed pure love in a bundle not much bigger than a small toy doll. It was only a pity my late father and mother, who had some history in Holles Street, did not live to see her and the undiluted joy she brings to the world even after only a few days in it.

The Duchess of Dote is coming home to Chateau McCoy opposite Marlay Park next week. The house is already over-run with toys and buggies and cots and the like - and the little beauty hasn't even got her tiny tootsies in the door yet. I look forward to watching TV with her one day when I'm babysitting; and telling her the story of her great-grandfather and his infamous telly.

As someone wise once said, possibly aware that Isabella would arrive one day, babies are such a nice way to start people.

Sunday Independent

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