Irlanda do Norte, Irish Examine, Inglês


It was a Friday afternoon, July 10, 1998, and I’d been doing magic at a children’s birthday party. 

I called into Blanchardstown Shopping Centre on my way home to do some clothes shopping. I pulled into the car park and I got a phone call: I had the old Ericsson mobile phone.

My neighbour’s name popped up and I thought: “That’s very unusual.” I immediately knew something had happened. He was very serious on the phone. 

He said: “Joe, will you contact Raheny Garda Station?” I said: “For what?” He said: “Just ring the Garda station.” I put the phone down, took a few breaths, rang the Garda station, said my name.

They said: “Oh, you need to ring your brother-in-law in Swords.” I thought, well, someone’s dead, no question, I just knew. 

I hung up, rang my sisters and Gerry, my brother-in-law, answered. I said: “Gerry, what’s wrong? I was told ring you.”

“Can you just call over to the house?’, he asked and I said: “Oh please, just tell me, what’s wrong? Is it Mam or Dad?” I just knew. I didn’t think, “Is it my brother or sister?” 

I said, “Is it Mam or Dad?” And Gerry said, “Can you just please come over.” And I said: “Is it Mam and Dad? Are they dead?” 

There was a pause and he said: “Joe, I’m sorry.” And he hadn’t said: “It’s your mam,” or, “your dad had a heart attack”.

I remember screaming. I threw the phone to the floor. I picked it up and I said, “Both of them Gerry?” and he said: “Joe, I’m sorry.”

I just hung up. How I drove from Blanchardstown to Swords is beyond me. Gerry answered the door. I saw my sister inside in absolute hysterics. 

All the family were meeting there. I rang some of my friends and they came.

I was 21, the youngest of five, at college, still living at home. We had a dog and I said, “I have to go home to feed the dog.” 

So I went back to the house and it was all surreal. My brother, who didn’t have a mobile phone, pulled up outside. 

I said; “Did you hear?” He said: “Hear what?” And I had to break the news to him.

I remember all the neighbours standing outside their own houses. I couldn’t even look at them. 

We went back out to Swords. The next two days were a complete blur. I was booked in to do loads of birthday parties that weekend and I rang my magician friends and they were able to get all the shows covered.

If you’d said to me before that this would happen, I’d have said I couldn’t handle it. But whatever kicks in, you’re dealt these cards, there’s nothing you can do: You get through. 

Having siblings around — three sisters, one brother — we were all very close and supportive. At college, everybody was tiptoeing around. 

I had really ordinary days, where everything was fine, and days when I broke down. I remember driving one day, pulling over to the side, just breaking down.

Your parents going together, it forces things into perspective. I loved magic: Like, “Brilliant, I get to do magic for people and they pay me for it!” 

The career-guidance teacher said to do it as a part-time gig, I’d never make a career out of it, and I didn’t know anyone making a living from it. 

That summer I thought about my father being a bank manager, in banking all his life and he never loved it: It was never a passion. All my siblings were working in finance or insurance and it was the route I was going.

It was a turning point: There’s my dad’s life over. I thought, the one true fact is life will end and we’ll have either a short or long time on the planet. 

I thought I might as well make a living doing something I love, because I could be dead in five years. 

It was in that moment I thought: “I’m going into entertainment.” 

If I hadn’t, I’d have gone into a “real” job, been too afraid to go into magic full-time: I’d just have been a magic enthusiast, “Joe who comes along and does a few tricks”. 

It might sound weird, but I’m happy my parents went together: Pearse and Nuala. They were so close, they’d have been lost without each other.

That Friday, my dad was just going on a day-trip to Belfast. He’d taken early retirement and he wanted to take Mam out: She had Parkinson’s.

I don’t remember Mam going out to the car that morning. I don’t know what our last conversation was. The dog, Patches, loved my dad, and the last thing my dad said was to Patches: “You stay there, see you later.” 

I remember seeing the car reversing out the drive: I can still see them.

The car accident happened at Lake’s Cross, coming into Swords near Balbriggan. Every time I used to drive by that spot, I’d bless myself and think of them. 

One thing still gets to me, and it happens to this day: I have a dream about them, but they’re never in the dream, they’re always away. 

And it’s like, “oh, we haven’t seen them in months”. They’re not dead, but they’re not there. We’re waiting for them, but they never turn up. It’s amazing how your mind processes things.

  • Magician and illusionist Joe Daly (Instagram: @joe_themagician) features in Dizzy Deliveries as the ‘magical but accident-prone delivery man’ — RTÉjr at 8.30am, repeated daily at 12.50pm; available to stream on RTÉ Player.


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