Friday 22 February 2019

Tommy's long journey after horrific accident

On Friday, July 23, Tommy Murray suffered severe injuries after being struck by a car. A self employed painter, he spent months in hospital. Hubert Murphy reports on how a community has rallied to help him...

Friday, July 23, 2018 is a day and date that Tommy Murray will forever remember. It was the moment his life changed in the blink of an eye, and today leaves him in a wheelchair and years away from returning to the craft he adores - painting.

As people walk around Drogheda, they see his mark, from the beautiful job on Dominick's Bridge to the gleaming West Gate House at the edge of the daul carriageway.

That even earned him a very warm comment from the tidy towns judges who visited the town during the summer.

And the interior of the Dominican Church was also his hand, along with his painting colleague, Kevin Reid.

But July 23 remains etched in his mind.

He was in Navan, painting a local pub, when a car suddenly pinned him to another vehicle. He suffered horrific injuries.

Tommy (34) is a native of Duleek but lives in Tallanstown, near Ardee, and has been in the painting game since he left St Oliver's Community College. It's all he has known, all he loves.

His mother, Monica, was with her daughter in England when she got the call about Tommy's accident.

'I got the next flight home and arrived at the Lourdes Hospital. They said they didn't know if he'd make it. He had internal bleeding,' she states.

Tommy's pelvis was completely shattered. His bladder burst, he suffered other injuries too.

He's a fighter but it wasn't until his third operation that Tommy's family could see some light.

He has gone through the pain barrier, come back and gone through it again and again and again.

Heavy painkillers are his daily life now. He goes from bed to wheelchair to bed.

'The doctors in Tallaght Hospital and the Lourdes Hospital have been great and we thank all the professionals for what they've done for Tommy,' Monica says.

But they honestly don't know when Tommy will walk again, and when he'll be fit enough to return to the job he loves.

Indications are that it will be up to two years, but his pelvis is so weak, he hasn't even begun any rehab.

A dad of three to Elly, Tom and Jessie - all between 5 and 9 years old - with partner, Meghan, Tommy was self employed and so he gets little or no financial help from the State.

With Santa's arrival not far away and bills to be paid, Tommy's concerns sweep from his horrific injuries to how he'll manage in the future.

But at times like this, his family, friends and clients have rallied.

'Tommy and Kevin did a great job on the church for us and we feel we have to do something for Tommy at this time,' Fr Jim Donleavy from Drogheda's Dominican community stated this week.

A committee, comprising Fr Jim, Rita Hanratty, Sinead Hanratty, Suzanne Carroll and Tracey Murray, Tommy's first cousin and a hairdresser in Headquarters Hair Studio in the Abbey Shopping Centre, have organised a special Tommy Murray Rehabilitation Fund night in the Westcourt Hotel on Friday, November 23.

The line up will be pure entertainment, and anybody who wishes to sing or dance are very welcome to contact the Dominican Mass office.

'We have a few acts lined up, but we want this to be a party night and really special. We'll have finger food too, but overall we want to keep the costs down, so more goes to Tommy's fund,' Rita adds.

Tickets at €20 go on sale this week with locations at the Dominican, Londis in Duleek, Kerr's Home and Gardens store in Ardee and the Westcourt Hotel amongst those who have volunteered to sell them so far.

'We'd love to sell hundreds of tickets, but it would be good to know the numbers that will be attending so there's no waste in terms of too much food being ordered,' Rita continued.

'We know people will just buy tickets to support Tommy and that's great.'

They will also have a raffle on the night and would dearly love spot prizes so as much as possible can be raised.

'No matter how big or small, we'll take prizes and make sure it all goes to a great man,' Rita explained. Prizes can be left in to the Dominican mass office.

Tommy's work colleague, Kevin Reid, is also doing his bit - by jumping out of an airplane!

He will be doing a sponsored skydive and all proceeds go to Tommy's fund.

Tommy's mother thanks everyone who has helped so far in her son's journey and the days, weeks and months to come.

'I just thank God that he's still here with us. He's a very positive person and he's a fighter but this is very hard on him.

'He has worked since the age of 15 and his business had just got going.'

Even Tommy's hospital appointments in Tallaght are a challenge as he has to pay for a wheelchair taxi to get him there and back to Tallanstown.

He misses many things in life, and fishing is one of them.

'He loved the peace and quiet of standing by a lake,' Monica added.

'Tommy has a long road ahead of him but he is strong and he can't wait to get back playing with the kids and returning to work.

'Kevin (Reid) is a good friend he has the support of Meghan and everyone else.'

Drogheda Independent