Maria and I were married in 1964. In the same year I had a shooting accident when a pellet from a shotgun went through my eye.I had an old Volkswagon car with a starting handle on it and I had to drive it home. When I came in home, Maria took off my jumper, and didn’t the pellets from the cartridge fall all over the place. We went to the Bon Secours in Tralee but they wouldn’t touch me there. They said I would have to go to Dublin to get my eye removed. When I got there, they told me the pellet had hit the bone near the eye. They decided to try to save the eye and put two stitches on the eyeball to preserve it from decaying. It was the first time the procedure had ever been done in the hospital and they kept me for ten days. I remember there was about twenty students around me with the doctor every day because of my condition.
I had the sight of only one eye from then on, and that’s fifty years ago. I played a few football matches with only the one eye, but in the end I found it hard to judge the flight of the ball. I did refereeing after and for nearly all the refereeing, I had only one eye! The other eye was as good as two eyes! I used to be behind at the greyhound track in Tralee and no one would ever beat me in judging a photo finish!
The loss of sight in one eye did cause some problems though. Not long after the operation, I drove Maria to Ballybunion to go shopping and after waiting a while I drove away only to find that she was not in the car! I came home without her! Yerra howl, you could be talking about that forever! But at other times I was perfect in every way all along the line. But then about five years ago I had trouble with cataracts. The doctor gave me the choice of leaving things as they were for a while and holding on to the bit of sight that I had, or risking an operation which might cost me all my sight. I decided to leave things as they were, as there was too much fluid in the good eye, and take a chance to hold on to the sight I had. But a few years later I found myself telling Maria not to walk up the church too far in front of me because I couldn’t see her! So we started going up to the hospital in Cork for the guts of two years. The fluid had reduced but glaucoma had set in and no operation could be done.
I have no sight at all now. Shadows only. At times you would get down and out. I can’t drive. I can make no effort inside the house. When I get up out of here, Maria has to carry me as I can’t make out a door even. I can’t go from this chair to another one. The house is a mystery to me. I can walk around the garden outside alright with my hand on the wall and with my stick, but I can’t go out myself or come in. When Maria leads me out in the garden in the middle of the day, I can’t detect the colour of the sky. It’s the same as if I was going out in the middle of the night. ’Tis night the whole time. I can’t use a Zimmer Frame because my age is against me. I would be able to sense what type of weather is there all right. The dog for the blind and the walking stick are not options for me.
I have accepted what has happened to me and I can’t change it. The doctor told me once that it might improve but that didn’t happen and medicine can do no more for me now. I get a bit down at times but ninety nine per cent of the time I am fine. I haven’t a pain or an ache otherwise. My hearing is a small bit better since I lost my sight. I can’t see what’s on TV but I can listen to it. I like listening to Mrs Brown on the TV all right, but I was never one for hanging around television anyway. I was always out. I can eat and I can walk for Ireland as long as Maria is with me. Yesterday we went to The Cliff House to eat and we couldn’t get any place to park nearer than the school and I was able to walk to the hotel and back all the way to the car with Maria.
My advice to people who have problems with their sight is that they should go about it on time to the doctor. I am glad I had my sight for all those years and would not have been happy to have been born blind.