Tuesday, January 18, 2022
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Caring for Robert Delany

Robert Delany
Caring for Robert Delany is now a daily routine that has locked his family into a life of separation from each other.

His partner Mags explained how the alarm ringing in the morning brings her back to cold and dark reality with a bang.

"Sometimes I have dreams about Robert. I had one recently where he sat up in the bed and when I hugged him he responded and gave me a kiss, but then you wake up and it's back to this," said Mags.

She pats Robert's knee, bites her lip, and looks at the father of their two girls lying unresponding in his special bed.


The Ruttle Ward in Tallaght Hospital is now Robert's home, in a small room on the third floor.

"I drop our daughter, Katie, up to Bob's mum in the morning and then bring Megan to school, and then I come up here, arriving at about 9am," Mags explains.

Katie is two years old while the couple's eldest daughter, Megan, is seven.

"I wash Bob and shave him, and do all the things we need to do to keep Bob just as he would like to be.

"Sometimes I cut his hair when it needs to be done, and I change his clothes and feed him."

Mags helps to feed Robert, which is done through a tube directly to his stomach.

"I clean Bob's teeth and chat with him, tell him the news in our lives, not that there's much of it," says Mags.

The hours go by, and then it is time for the first shift change. Robert's mother Noleen comes up to take over at lunchtime so that Mags can collect the children and look after them.

"I do more feeds and keep an eye on him, and talk to him.

"I keep him company until the evening time when I go home and get dinner ready," says Noleen, adding that sometimes she dreads coming to the hospital.

"I hate to see him like this. It hurts so much. And yet I hate leaving him when it is time to go," she adds.

The evening time is when Robert's father Terry comes to keep his son up to date with what is going on in his local pub, who was asking for him, and also to watch his beloved Man United playing.

Robert's sister Sinead also joins Terry for the night visits.

"Even though she is older than Bob, he used to act like the older brother, always very protective, and always there for her," Noleen explains.


"She misses his company terribly, and it is very hard for Sinead, but she will always be there for him," she adds.

Tests in Dun Laoghaire in the coming weeks will help determine if Robert's movements are actual conscious reactions to stimulus such as sounds, or just involuntary movements that happen at random.

"Sometimes I get low, and I wonder where Bob is. I wonder if he can hear me.

"I just wonder where Bob is in the world, if he is confused, or if he is anywhere at all," says Mags as she holds Robert's hands and moves his fingers.

Tears well up in her eyes.


  • The Delany family want to thank everybody who continues to be so supportive to them over the past year, and those who send cards and messages of support. They also want to acknowledge the help of family and friends, including Jock, Mick, Peggy and Fiona who continue to be so helpful to them, especially at the weekends.


Evening Herald

2011 Dublin Marathon