“They are all angels living on Earth, as far as I’m concerned. We could never thank them enough,” said first-time grandmother Jacky Quirke last night.
“The kindness from all who were involved was just unbelievable and we cannot thank them enough.”
Jacky’s daughter Tracy went into labour a week early at 2.30am last Friday, at the height of the weather emergency, at the home she shares with partner Darren Galvin on the Old Head of Kinsale, Co Cork. The peninsula was cut off by snow drifts up to 6ft deep.
Tracy’s aunt Teresa Hurley, who lives next door, and her husband Kieran rushed to help. Midwife Cora Hayes, who lives several kilometres away, was phoned and said she was on standby, if required.
Kieran phoned his brother Denis Hurley and a neighbour, Ger McCarthy, who both arrived with tractors.
As Teresa and Darren helped Tracy, Kieran used a shovel to clear the yard as the two men spent three hours clearing a 4km path from the house in Lispatrick to Barrell’s Cross via Ballinspittle.
Jacky and her husband Pat and Darren’s parents, Roy and Jacinta, who were snowbound in Newcestown, were in contact by phone.
“We couldn’t do anything. We felt so isolated and helpless,” said Jacky.
Clonakilty-based paramedics Clare Shorten and Katlyn O’Brien were tasked but had to abandon their ambulance in deep snow near Bandon.
Dr Jason van der Velde collected Ms O’Brien in his 4x4 before requesting Defence Forces transport to Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH).
He had to follow tracks in the snow created by Darren’s father Roy and his other son Dylan in their 4x4 to get to Tracy’s house.
Gunner Ger Twomey, 1st Field Artillery Regiment, and Private Anthony Armstrong, 1st Transport Company, collected Ms Shorten in their six-wheel army truck, arriving at the house minutes later.
Tracy, Darren, and the paramedics arrived at CUMH around 10.30am, with Dr van der Velde following behind. Tracy’s contractions were 10 minutes apart. She remained calm throughout.
The soldiers, who had worked almost 72 hours through the weather crisis, visited CUMH later and said holding Ella “made it all worthwhile”.
Ella has brought joy to her grandparents, particularly her five great-grandparents: Jacky’s parents Tim and Aggie Murphy; Pat’s father Eddie Quirke; and Roy’s parents Jim and Phyl Galvin.