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State troopers drop in on sick kids

YOUNGSTERS in Dublin's Temple Street Children's Hospital were paid a visit by Massachusetts' finest when several members of the state's police force dropped by in full uniform as part of the St Patrick's Day festivities.

Set to march in the parade in Cork, the officers were just off the plane, but they fought jetlag for a very good cause.

Showering the children with badges, colouring books and special tokens, their presence cheered up the wards and brought smiles to faces.


For little Ryan Guress (4), from Dublin, the effect was instantaneous, announcing to his parents: "I want to be a policeman."

"That's our job done there," joked Colonel Timothy Alben.

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 they're not as good as daddy's," said her firefighter father Stephen with a wink.

Dearbhla Young (2), from Cavan, who had hip surgery the previous day, delighted the Americans with her mop of curly red hair.

"She's the Irish Cailin that they wanted to meet," her mother Martina said.

Big, burly and feeling the heat in their best wool dress uniforms, the officers have been visiting Ireland since 1999 to march in St Patrick's Day parades in a mission close to the heart of the organiser, trooper Mike O'Connor.

Married to a Limerick woman, and with obvious Irish family links of his own, he said he had invited three or four colleagues to visit the hospital, but all 17 wanted to come.

"There are lots of top brass here, but this is the only time I get to order them around," he told the Herald.

One officer in particular attracted curious glances.

With his wiry beard, Larry carefully avoided photographers to preserve the integrity of his undercover status, but he betrayed his police training when he seized a microphone and started to interrogate staff on what they had for breakfast.