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  • Southside

Shankill man recalls how losing his sight affected his life

Thursday, 12th October, 2017 1:00pm
Shankill man recalls how losing his sight affected his life

Dermot Farrelly at home in Shankill.

Shankill man recalls how losing his sight affected his life

Dermot Farrelly at home in Shankill.

YOU can imagine that getting back to work after losing your sight is very difficult, but when your career was as a driver to a High Court Judge, that is literally impossible.

A massive upheaval faced Dermot Farrelly (83), from Shankill, when his retinas detached in 1982, eventually leaving him almost totally blind. 

Adjusting to sight loss is a huge emotional journey for people who may go from being independent, employed and active, to suddenly being dependent on others for even basic needs.

One of the biggest losses is no longer being able to drive, particularly when your career depends on it. 

 “In 1982 I had detached retinas and I lost the sight in the left eye,” Dermot recalled. “Four years later the right one went. I am not totally blind but I have very little left.

“I wanted and needed to try and keep my life as normal as I could.

“Continuing to work was so important to me, though a slight rethink was needed as I was a driver for a High Court Judge!

“They were very good to me in work and I made the trek from Shankill into the Four Courts every day.”

His sudden sight loss brought Dermot to the National Council for the Blind (NCBI), where he found practical and emotional support.

The NCBI is Ireland’s national charity working for the rising number of people affected by sight loss.

Its advice, support, rehabilitation services and other training help 8,000 people and their families face their futures with confidence every year.

Services offered by NCBI include rehabilitation training, independent living skills, mobility training, low vision solutions, IT training, guidance in choosing a range of assistive technology, employment advice and counselling.

The majority of people using NCBI’s services have some level of vision and most acquire sight loss during their adult lives. 

Dermot believes that finding NCBI was invaluable to him regaining his independence when his sight deteriorated.

“Naturally my sight loss caused huge upheaval, physically, emotionally and practically and NCBI was invaluable to me, on so many levels,” he reflects.

“The mobility training I received was vitally important, it literally got me going.

“I was taught how to get up and down stairs, trained to know how to find the edges of footpaths, that sort of thing.

“I got involved in an over 65’s committee and received additional support and help.

“There are always challenges but, with the right support, you can overcome them. NCBI gave me the confidence to say to myself, ‘don’t sit in a corner, get out and stay living’.” 

It wasn’t always an easy journey and Dermot was knocked sideways by a cyclist and, while relatively unscathed, affected his confidence. 

Acknowledging the things he misses most, Dermot references sport. ”Oh I loved my sport but I still like listening to it. I adore old films and now I have the accompanying audio for them, I sit and enjoy them all over again. I know them backwards as I have watched them so often!”.

Even with all of these challenges, Dermot remains optimistic. “I had a good life and I still have a good life. I make the most of all the facilities available to me. It is vital to be able to meet others in the same boat and keep up with new technology and other advances that make things so much easier. I would really encourage anyone who is having seriously difficulty with their sight to register with NCBI. There are solutions available, and support. They will show you the way”.      

For more information on NCBI’s services visit of phone 01 830 7033.


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