Friends of former Trinity student Pádraig Schäler can attest to the fact that he is no stranger to coming home in the early hours of the morning after having stayed out all night singing songs. Last week, a group of them spent days and nights doing just that in the latest effort to help their friend.
Musicians and friends of Pádraig spent Wednesday and Thursday recording a new song, ‘Dream Boat/Bád na mBrionglóidí’, that has been written with the aim of raising money to help cover the costs of his medical care.
Pádraig was in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, working on a J1 visa last summer when he was knocked off his bike one morning while cycling to work. The accident left him in a coma with severe brain injuries that could have claimed his life.
Pádraig’s family moved him home to Ireland after a few weeks, where he spent several months on an acute hospital ward in Beaumont. However, they soon realised there was a lack of appropriate resources for the treatment of acquired brain injury in Ireland. The only option was to wait on an acute hospital ward until one of a very few places in The National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) became available.
Even if patients get a place in the NRH, they are usually only allocated three months of treatment before being sent back to a hospital or even to a home for the elderly, both inappropriate environments for a young person like Pádraig recovering from brain injury.
The Schäler family then decided that the best option for Pádraig would be to take advantage of his German citizenship through father Reinhard, and moved him to a specialist care unit in Hamburg, where, since overcoming some medical complications earlier this year, he has begun to make steady progress.
During this time, Pádraig’s wide circle of friends, family and supporters have rallied around him with a range of fundraising efforts to help cover his extensive medical costs.
In April, a swimming tour around Ireland’s coastline raised almost €40,000 and the new song, ‘Dream Boat/Bád na mBrionglóidí’ hopes to be just as successful. Composed by a friend, musician Maitiú Ó Casaide, the song’s lyrics are based on a blog post by Reinhard Schäler on his daily blog ‘Hospi-Tales’, in which he details a dream he had about himself and his son building a boat together.
As Pádraig is a passionate Gaelgóir, and the former Auditor of An Cumann Gaelach in Trinity, the lyrics are in Irish as well as English. They speak to the hope felt by friends and family that his ship will sail strongly from now on, during this crucial time in recovery when he continues to new levels of progress formerly unimaginable.
On the second day of recording for the song in Bow Lane studios, Pádraig, having only been fed nutrients through a tube since his accident, ate and swallowed food for the first time in a year. Reinhard Schäler, writing about this on his blog, said had he not seen this with his own eyes he would not have believed it, “There must be something going on here that no one can touch or see or hear. Looks like the boat is getting ready to sail!”
The ‘Dream Boat’ is getting ready to sail, and the song itself will be available for download from August. Meanwhile momentum is also building for ‘An Saol’, Pádraig’s family’s vision for a dedicated neurorehab clinic to help patients like him and ensure that no person need ever be moved away from their friends and home due to lack of resources, nor be abandoned by the health system in a hospital ward or residential home inappropriate to their needs. Details on all of these plans, how to help, and updates on Pádraig’s progress can be found at caringforpadraig.org and hospi-tales.com.