herald

Saturday 16 December 2017

'Bus accident robbed me of my childhood', reveals Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch

Kathleen Lynch
Kathleen Lynch

Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch has no childhood memories because of an horrific traffic accident at the age of 10.

Ms Lynch has revealed she remembers nothing about her life before she was hit by a double decker bus as she ran across a street.

She missed out on a normal adolescence and teenage life as she spent the next seven years in a hospital bed, she said.

Hospital

Ms Lynch now believes spending her formative years as a hospital patient has given her valuable insights for her work with the Department of Health.

The Labour politician told a Sunday newspaper how she was hit by a double-decker bus which went over her body.

She had chased a child who squirted water at her as they played in her native Cork.

"But they got across the road in time and I didn't. All that remained of my leg was the bone, so I was in bed for years.

"I can't tell you how many operations I had," Ms Lynch said.

"When I was 17, I had major surgery to remove part of my stomach to put on my leg. I had to learn to walk again," she said.

But she never recovered her childhood memories.

"My family have tried to help me remember things over the years but it has made no difference ... I'm sure I had a lovely childhood and that I was completely spoiled though," she said.

She had tutors in hospital and nuns fed her huge appetite for books.

"I can understand why after a person is one, two or three years sick, that people stop visiting them. It happened to me - my friends drifted away because they were doing things that most 11 or 12 or 13 year olds were doing," she said.

"They had lives and they moved on, I understand that.

"I'm tolerant of the fact that most of us are not as good as Mother Teresa.

"My sister Sheila was two years older than me and called into me in hospital every single night," she said.

"She used to bring me chips, chat to me and then she'd be off about her teenage life.

Belief

"I didn't have any teenage years.

"I had red hair and freckles and I was still 12 in my head when I was 17.

"Sometimes I hear people saying that they meet their old school friends and I can't relate to that.

"But I also realise that I don't need that and that I replaced that social life with the belief that I could do it all myself.

"I think the experience of being alone for so many years made me single-minded and gave me self-belief," she said.

hnews@herald.ie

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