I was born and reared in the village of Patrickswell about six miles from Limerick City. At the age of 17 years I started to exercise greyhounds in the evening with another man who was a good few years older than me. When we were finished walking the greyhounds this other man suggested that we should go to the local pub for a drink, which I didn't object to.
I started on having a couple of half pints of Guinness, I progressed to having a good few half pints, then it was full pints and after a few months it was pints of Guinness and small whiskeys.To make a long story short I was an alcoholic within a couple of years.
I was also smoking heavy which caused me asthma at a young age. I also had a foul tongue and could be bitter with people. I wasn't always honest either when we were racing the greyhounds and often helped in wrong tactics to stop our dog of winning when we had our money on other dogs to win.
Anyway, in the early 70'sI had to go to hospital with the asthma and also from the effects alcohol was having on me. I did not drink alcohol after coming out of hospital and I fully intended to stay off it for good.
On the l7th of March 1973 I decided to go to the races in Limerick. St Patrick's day was always one of the biggest race meetings in Limerick and I nearly always went. I was off the drink for 12 months at that stage.
I stood out on the road known that someone would come along and give me a lift to Limerick. A neighbour named Michael came along and gave me a lift, he also happened to be going to the races.
It was a very cold rainy day. After entering the racecourse Michael asked me in for a drink I refused and told him that I was off the drink. He didn't take no for answer and kept asking me in. To appreciate him giving me a lift I agreed to go in but told him I was drinking a mineral water (non alcohol). He went up to the bar and arrived down with two hot whiskeys. Again I refused but he said "Have the one, it will warm you up.". Reluctantly I took it. I felt under obligation to buy one back so I got two more, and we had two more, and then several more.
To cut a long story short, we eventually went out of the bar and the last of five races was on. I went to an advantage point to see the race. Well I saw more horses and jockeys than was in the whole of county Limerick I did't see much point in watching the race so back in to the bar again and more drinks.
When the races were over, we met up with another man we knew and he said to leave our car where it was and I understood he was going to drive us home. But when we came out the racecourse gate he turned left to go into the city instead of right to Patrickswell. We went into another bar in the city and a more drinks then the man drove us back to the car and left us there.
We sat in the car for awhile to see what we would do. I eventually decided to drive home. Michael fell asleep shortly after we left Limerick. I must also have fallen asleep near the village of Patrickswell for the next thing I knew was that we were after crashing into the sign for Patrickswell and knocking it flat to the round so I must have hit it fairly hard, but the Lord must have His hand upon me because none of the two of us were injured. As a matter fact I got the car back out on the road and went up the village and turned it around and parked ft at the side of the street
After a while I decided to go to the local Garda barrack and report what had happened. The local sergeant came out to the desk and I told him what had happened. The first question he asked was "did I knock down anybody" and truthfully I did not know. After asking a few more questions and using a few strong rude adjectives to me he told me to go home immediately and go to bed and he would deal with it the following morning. Meanwhile my brother also heard about it and came to see me and I got more abuse.
I got up early the following morning which was a Sunday morning. I used to drive this couple to early mass every Sunday morning. This couple had a pub and lived overhead. The Sunday morning arrangement was that when the owner got up he would take the locking bolt of the back door, so that when I would arrive to take them to mass I would be able to let myself in. This had been the arrangement for many years previous. But that particular morning the door was locked and so I had to knock. The owner eventually came and opened the door and let me in. I was no sooner inside when he left out a load of abuse and foul language at me about the night before. I was very annoyed at this because he was a very heavy drinker himself and I had often helped him out when he had a lot of drink taken. I also learned that he had locked me out because of what had happened the night before
He went out to clean up his bar and I was left in the kitchen on my own, but discovered I was not alone. As I looked up at a picture of the Sacred Heart 1 felt a calmness come over me and I knew the Lord was there with me. Looking at the picture I said that if He got me out of this situation I would never drink alcohol again and I made that promise in front of the Sacred Heart.
Not only was there no more about the accident but I immediately lost my foul tongue, I gave up smoking, and I never took a drink since and that was 1973.
Just to finish I would like to let you know that I joined Full Gospel Business Mens Fellowship International in the late 70's and was a founder member of the Limerick Chapter, I have gone to 31 of the 32 conventions, but above all have found God and know that Jesus died for me so I could enter the Kingdom Of Heaven.
I donâ€™t say any of this in a boastful way, but to encourage others. May God bless you and that he may do for you what he did for me.
Your Brother In Christ