This is my first attempt at a Blog. I’m jumping in head first, so bear with me.
They say write what you know about, so here goes!
This my version of how the armed robbery of our local garage by a young local man affected our lives. There were no fatalities, but the injuries sustained by those shot permanently changed the course of their lives.
February 27th 1987 I was 19, sitting in my bedroom practising my guitar chords at about midnight. I had taken up lessons about a year previously and had gotten as far as Bye Bye Miss American Pie, and I thought I was great. All of a sudden there was 3 big bangs only seconds apart, thinking it was just kids messing with bangers or something like that I kept strumming away, about 15 minutes later the front sittingroom window downstairs started to thud and hammer with noise, my cousin and two other women were banging and screaming ‘someones been shot in the garage, John, Jim’s been shot,’ again and again before they even got to reach the front door.
I ran downstairs to the sound of utter confusion, my father with a face full of shaving foam, with just his vest and trousers on ran like Usain Bolt through the hall out the front door towards the garage which was across the road a bit, in total bewilderment I kept going, whats going on, whats going on. My mother stoney faced, ‘something happened in the garage’.
My brother Jim was the mechanic in the Jet garage in Portmarnock and had gone over there to buy a can of coke at about 11.30, and as usual would chat with the lads and shoot the breeze. He was 20, didnt smoke, drink, didnt do much else apart from long distance cycling and golf, he was a good boy, as a mother might say.
Sitting in the kitchen waiting for my father to come back was like counting down the minutes til mass was over, it took forever, he arrived home after about an hour, during that time, we were told to stay at home and not go over to the garage which was only about 100ft from our house, and I dont know what made us do it, but we did, we stayed at home, didnt even look out the window. Of course we heard the sirens and ambulances, my Mother got quieter and quieter and kept pacing and pacing up and down. After about 10 minutes the sirens set off for the second time we knew someone had been rushed to hospital. My image of her sitting in the kitchen at the table with a lost look on her face will never leave me.
My father rushed in about 5 minutes later, quickly to put a jumper on and headed off in a Garda car straight to the Richmond Hospital. My father told us he was just grazed by a bullet and all was ok, we knew it was a whole lot worse than that.
Nowadays trying to get in touch with someone is simple, whether it is by txt, twitter, facebook or phone call, it can be done instantly. Back in ’87 there was only your home phone or public pay phones. The waiting for information from my father as to the extent of Jim’s injuries was insufferable to say the least. It was not like now though, now we are used to getting updates quickly and regularly. Back then, we knew we would just have to sit it out and wait for information to come through. The first realisation that this was far more serious than we had been told came via the 1am news on the radio .. ‘Two men shot in garage in Portmarnock’. Myself and my sister and my mother Ina all just stared at each other and realised, this is serious. There was no tears or hysteria, but the phone calls started coming in thick and fast. My mother has 4 sisters and 3 brothers. I can only guess my father phoned them from the hospital to tell them but, they were on their way!
The Aunts arrived, because they all look alike and did everything together I had christened them the Ina’s. By 2.30am the house was full, there was lots of tea making and lots of tea just left there to go cold. My father finally phoned shortly after 3.00am, Jim was met at the doors of emergency and was now in surgery. He had been shot with a sawn off shot gun from 4ft in the chest and underarm. He told us Jim was still conscious and managed to give him a thumbs up as the stretcher whisked into the theatre room.
We heard every news bulletin on the radio and each report of the event was more and more graphic, eventually we had to turn the radio off.
The doctors came out to update my father, John. He had to be resusitated twice and things were extremely critical, they tried to prepare John for the fact that they may possibly have to amputate his arm. John very quickly took this in and pleaded with the doctors to only do this as a very last resort, they agreed. Finally about 7am, John phoned, Jim was out of surgery, he still had his two arms, although his left arm would never have more than 10% movement and he would never have use of his left hand. The next 24hrs for Jim were going to be critical. The next 6 or 7 hours are quite vague, neighbours calling, phonecalls from friends and relatives and then the arrival of Joe the owner of the garage.