The voice on the radio was unmistakable as the car headed for Mount Errigal. The east Cork brogue told me right away that I was listening to Pat Buckley.
The road round Donegal’s highest mountain means that if you’re listening to the radio in the car then you only get instalments as the coverage isn’t the best. You usually lose the signal from Dun Lewey village till you can see Lough Altan across from Dooish.
So I caught the middling bit and the end. I could fill in all the missing bits myself. I could write a book about what he was saying. In fact I did.
When I got down the mountain road I called Pat and it was like the last five years hadn’t happened.
It is that long since I first sat in Pat Buckley’s kitchen in Midelton County Cork.
He didn’t believe me, but I counted off the years.
I reminded him of his two little sons running around fascinated by the visitor and his laptop. The eldest lad is now bigger than Pat.
I wanted Pat to be doing something different these days, but he isn’t. There is more need for the Lets Get Together Foundation than when I was researching my book “Preventable Death”
Pat was kind to me today about the importance of the book:
“It’s history boy! It’ll be there in a hundred years to tell people what happened here!”
It was, and is, a story worth telling and retelling
Pat Buckley lost two brothers to suicide within two years.
Pat discovered both of them.
Their father Tony, a monumental mason, carved both headstones for his sons.
What do you say when you’re faced with that reality?
This was pain I that I knew I simply couldn’t cope with, a loss that was the stuff of nightmares.
I knew I would never have the courage that I was looking at across that kitchen table.
I remember taking myself off for a walk around town after one long blow-by-blow account of the two suicides that Pat had given me.
I found a park bench and tried to be unnoticed as I started to weep.
After the second suicide the Buckley clan fought back.
They established, with other similarly bereaved families, the Lets Get Together Foundation.
LGTF provides a free counselling service on demand 7/24 they’ve put the public agencies to shame.
When this state had more money than it could spend suicide prevention was a low priority.
What chance is there now with a bankrupt state?
I told him I had hoped that the message of the book would now be terribly dated that Ireland’s male suicide problem would have been comprehensively addressed.
However the need for a root and branch rethink of suicide prevention in Ireland remains as pressing today as when I first met this sound man from the Rebel County.