“First make up your mind that this is what you want to do. Then keep trying. Because it could be the 97th time that you finally get a break.”

This was Johnny Cash’s answer in a replay of an interview on Irish radio when he was asked what would be his advice to an aspiring musician.

There’s another man across the big pond today who must be thinking along similar lines. Yesterday, he was third time lucky. Because he kept trying.

Much younger than either of the two was Kevin Barry, when he died exactly 100 years ago. Being only 18 years old he was hanged by the British during the Irish War of Independence. Last week, Pádraig went up to see his grave in Glasnevin. It was covered with flowers. He too had made up his mind and was not ever going to give up. He was killed but succeeded in what he wanted to achieve. And there is a rare Leonard Cohen rendition of the Kevin Barry song.

My phone crashed as I was taking pictures. The one above is the only one that wasn’t deleted.

Pádraig is enjoying his twice weekly visits to the hyperbaric chamber. He is crystal clear that it helps him to sharpen his brain and to develop his lungs and breathing.

Overall, and slowly, we are getting back towards a sustainable routine. During the week it’s like going to work: getting up at the same time, getting ready in time to leave, working hard in the morning, taking it a bit easier in the afternoon. It all still requires some fine tuning, but it’s all moving in the right direction.

It is amazing how important routine and social contacts are. Pádraig is happy that he is getting out of the house, getting good exercise, and getting to see different people (other than just us:) every day.

For some letter I had to write during the week, I went through papers and pictures I took during the time Pádraig was in hospital. The difference between him being looked after by others and living with us is breathtaking.

There is an article in The Irish Times from 20 May 2020, which I only saw last week: Nursing homes must be made a thing of the past. Really worth reading. Here are a few important quotes from that article:

On Friday May 8th, Leo Varadkar reflected aloud on the Late Late Show on whether nursing homes are a wise investment for the future. The Taoiseach is one of the first political leaders in the world with the political imagination to think beyond orthodox arrangements.

Living in these places makes it intrinsically difficult to physically distance oneself. Protecting the service personnel attached to them is also a major challenge. Living with any concentration of people categorised as “vulnerable” to the disease is a disaster waiting to happen.

And so, the Taoiseach rightly reflected on a future where we might have to rethink the wisdom of such settings and the wisdom of public investment in them.

He speculated that we may have to think about elder care along the lines of disability care where it has in fact been official Government policy since 2011 to end congregated settings for persons with disabilities.

The official ambition since 2011 has been to facilitate community living for all people with disabilities – regardless of age or severity of disability. More than this, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Ireland has ratified, recognises institutionalised facilities as a violation of human rights.

Well, as far as I know, Ireland is about to report for the first time on its implementation of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) it ratified in 2018. There’s an opportunity for the politicians to highlight the disaster of the around 1,300 young people ‘held’ in nursing homes, many in breech of their human rights.

Pádraig has made up his mind. He will not give up. He will keep trying. One day will be his lucky day.

PS: Johnny Cash recorded many great songs. One of my favourites is the duet with Dylan in Girl from the North Country.