PJ Richardson had one arm; when I was 11 that was pretty incredible especially when he showed me how his prosthesis could be moved with a shrug of his shoulder, he also bought me a coke that evening. I think he lost his arm at the same age. Some memories stick and that one always will with me; a kind man with one arm, brother to my Aunts husband, they came to collect me from the Limerick bus to Oola.
After that I didn’t see PJ for years but would hear stories about him when he would be having a ‘high’ period and they’d be racing about the county keeping an eye on him. PJ suffered from Bi-Polar disease.
A few years ago I decided to run for the County Council in Limerick and my Uncle-in-Law Tommy, PJs brother, was my greatest political advisor, canvasser and friend. Their family just know everyone in Doon, the Richardsons are good people. PJ canvassed with me, brought me to his friends, and he had some great friends, and did more for me than I could ever ask or repay.
The last time we canvassed he was driving; The Saw Doctors came on the radio and with one arm he steered the car, turned up the radio and played drums with the wheel. PJ was gearing up to having a ‘High’ period in which he spent the entire Summer recovering. I admired him as he was a straight talker, a considered thinker and a good laugh. He adored his mother and loved Lacka, home.
PJ had a change in medication last week and became disorientated on the way home, two days later he was found in an adjoining field to his home place, Lacka. By all appearances he passed away as peacefully as one could hope in the circumstances, a sad and tragic accident; life and it’s ending are sprinkled with them.
A little while back, his sister was involved in a documentary regarding Bi-Polar disease; Bi-Polar Bare. PJ was interviewed and he sparkles in it. I hadn’t known of it until his passing where it was shown at his funeral. I watched it a few moments ago and manage to smile and shed a tear at the same time. It portrayed him as he was, honest, funny and straight talking.
Mental health in Ireland could do with more interviews like PJs one, it’s one of our own speaking frankly to us. I hope you find it as informative and worthy of PJ’s memory as I did.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.