Danny O'Neill

Articles from the Irish Times and The Connacht Tribune

Connacht Tribune 1909-current, Friday, April 13, 2001 - Page 28
City Tribune 1984-current, Friday, April 13, 2001 - Page 8
Danny with his beloved Verdi

Man’s best friend gets star treatment in hospital’s care

Article by Lorna Siggins. The Irish Times Mon Apr 9, 2001

Everyone in Oughterard knows Verdi. Well, most residents of the Connemara village recognise the dog, if not on first-name terms. And so, he was missed when he and his owner, Danny O’Neill, were away for six weeks.

It wasn’t a holiday, but both dog and man certainly felt revitalised after their return from a stay in St Luke’s Hospital in Dublin. Mr O’Neill, who is from the capital, can’t praise the hospital management and staff highly enough.

He is visually impaired with a disease that wastes away the optic nerve; and so when he developed a tumour of the intestine, and had to have treatment in Dublin, he could not envisage going anywhere without Verdi, his second pair of eyes.

St Luke’s rose to the challenge. From the time Mr O’Neill and Verdi arrived by taxi, they couldn’t have received better hospitality. “They had extra staff assigned to me, and even offered to walk the dog,” Mr O’Neill says.

Verdi, who was trained by the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Cork, was allowed to wander everywhere with his master, and he slept beside him in his “bed roll” or sheep’s fleece. “The only place he couldn’t be with me was in radiotherapy, so he’d lie outside on his blanket till I was finished.”

Mr O’Neill was able to get out and about during his treatment, and Verdi gave him good reason to do so. There were walks around Rathgar, and even a couple of nights out – to the National Concert Hall as a guest on two occasions, with transport organised by the hospital’s director of nursing, Ms Eileen Maher. One of the nurses brought in a marrow bone, cooked, for the animal.

“They were so good to him, and became so fond of him,” Mr O’Neill says. “When the ward door opened in the morning, the first `how are you today, then?’ was to the dog, and then to me!”

Ms Maher said the hospital was “very open” to helping patients in this way. “Cancer is a life crisis, and so we like to be as supportive as we can.”

Danny passed away 14th February 2003

This page was added on 20/12/2022.

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