Singer Niamh Kavanagh has revealed the scary moment she found out her husband had suffered a stroke while she was performing a show.
The 1993 Eurovision song contest winner spoke about hearing the news from her son via phone call, while on a break from a performance at the Opera House in Cork last October – and how her and her family have had to adjust since Paul’s stroke.
“I rang him (her son) thinking that he was looking for a lift home which is quite regular,” she told RTE’s Sunday with Miriam.
“It turned out that my husband Paul had had an ischemic stroke. The boys were magnificent, they rose to the occasion in a way that I wasn’t expecting because you’re kind of giving out about them not picking up all their clothes and all of that, and yet when they dealt with their father who, when they went through FAST (a system of identifying stroke symptoms), and they asked the questions [they were magnificent].”
“I arrived to find my husband really struggling with his speech. This man, a very capable man, very beautiful man [who] played music with me for years, and in that moment he doesn’t know what’s happening to him. I don’t know what’s happening. We don’t know how long this is going to be.”
“It is scary. People immediately think that they’re going to be completely debilitated, they don’t know what’s going to happen. I didn’t know what I was going to go up and face, I didn’t know what I was walking into and actually – he won’t mind me telling you this – when I walked in the door he burst into tears because for him in that moment, he was able to let go… I was there to take over.”
I think you don’t realise how much you take for granted.
Being able to just access things lyrically in your head… and then for that to be taken away from you… he can see the words, he just can’t get them out.”
Paul, who is himself a musician, has since been recovering with the help of Niamh and their family.
“He recovered reasonably quickly in the first few weeks, you do find that it does happen, but for me, it meant that I had to center myself back into the house much more than I had being doing.” the 51-year-old told Miriam.
“It was important because he needed it for his confidence and I needed it for my confidence that he was good, and that the boys wouldn’t be stressed about dealing with it.”
“We were very blessed because we have a great sense of humour anyway – anyone who’s seen us in concert will tell you the banter is very much a part of who we are and so you use humour to get through situations, and he is back playing the guitar and singing.
“Singing is a little bit more selective because it’s a little bit more ‘Swedish chef’ in places as they say in the muppets, and sometimes words just don’t come out when he needs them to but he’s improving all the time.”