The Four Kilkenny Men

Four poorly clothed men sitting in a homeless hostel in 2020. In the background Amhrán na bhFiann is being played on pan pipes…

KK1 John: Ahh… Very dry this, very warm.

KK2 Brian: Nothing like the flu vaccine, eh Seanie?

KK3 Seanie: You’re right there Brian.

KK4 Gerry: Who’d a thought thirty years ago we’d all be sittin’ here, in a hostel, havin’ just been given the flu vaccine?

John: Aye. In those days, we’d have been glad to even have had the flu.

Brian: Just the flu.

Seanie: Without scabies or scurvy.

Gerry: OR flu!

John: Kipping in a filthy, dirty, pissy, cold, sleeping bag.

Brian: We never used to have a sleeping bag. We used to sleep under a rolled up newspaper.

Seanie: The best WE could manage was to kip in a tent.

Gerry: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor, homeless, with no health care

John: Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, ‘Money doesn’t buy you happiness.’

Brian: ‘E was right. I was happier then and I had NOTHIN’. We used to live in this tiny old tent in the grounds of a hospital. The hospital had great big holes in the roof.

Seanie: Hospital? You were lucky to be near a hospital! We used to have to get a bus, all twenty two of us, four hours there and four hours to get back just to see an oncologist!

Gerry: You were lucky! Oncologist! We were that far away from a centre of excellence most of us died before we got an appointment

John: Ohhhh we used to DREAM of an oncologist! Woulda’ been a god to us. We used to go to the hospital dump… a fifteen mile trek, in our barefeet, and rub ourselves against the x-rays in the hope any radiation from them might treat us.

Brian: Well when I say ‘hospital’ it was only a day clinic with limited services, and it closed at three, but it was a hospital to US.

Seanie: We didn’t even have a clinic, we’d have to phone Caredoc… if we had credit and then they’d make us an appointment to see an actual doctor three weeks later. They hoped you’d have died by then… smaller waiting lists see… better number for the government…

Gerry: You were lucky to have a Caredoc! There were a hundred and sixty of us queueing to find a doctor that would take us on.

John: Medical Card?

Brian: Aye.

Seanie: You were lucky. We were homeless for three years… No address meant no benefits. Definitely no medical card… When we fell asleep people would piss on us for fun like…

Gerry: Luxury… Least if you got pissed on you were warm. We used to sleep in a tent in Phoenix Park. If you didn’t stay awake you’d be set on fire.

John: Well we had it tough. We used to have to get up out of the hostel at eight o’clock at morning, and walk the streets all day… in the rain, the snow and storm Ophelia. Then phone to see if there was a place for us that night… when I say place… I mean a yoga mat in a hall with loads of others.

Brian: Right. Well I had to get up at half five in the morning and get three buses to school with me Ma and younger brothers. Then get three buses home, do homework in the room we slept in… eat hot dogs we cooked in the kettle and sleep three to the bed, then do it all again… for five years that went on…

Seanie: But you try and tell the young people today that… and they won’t believe ya’.

ALL: Nope, nope…

Featured Image Source