Even casual followers of this blog will know in what regard I hold Ireland. I’m not going to list the country’s virtues here. But one would be blind not to see some of the blatant negatives. The political system is irredeemably corrupt – no one outside Irish politics will claim otherwise. Justice is haywire – people are locked up for not paying their TV licences whilst those businessmen who brought the country to its knees waltz free. Drugs use and associated gun crime is among the highest in Europe. Unemployment and emigration is rife. The Health Service is a basket case with sick people sitting on stairs waiting to be put on a trolley. The beds are taken by those for whom there aren’t enough care homes.

But wait. A good story. Good stories rarely make headlines. This post was sparked off by the remarkable Billie, an MS sufferer, blogging about confronting her mortality. Three weeks ago a dear friend of mine in Cork suffered a brain haemorrhage. She was rushed in for surgery. She well knew the possible consequences. One of the better outcomes would have been to end up like her brother who had similar surgery some years ago and who had to battle to regain a more or less normal life afterwards.

My friend was operated on in Cork University Hospital. Going into theatre she was well aware of her mortality and the possible outcomes. When she came around her first reaction were to move arms and legs and try out her voice. To her surprise and delight all appeared normal. After a week or so she was released into the care of her brother’s family, then eventually allowed home where her son keeps an eye on her.

Last night we spoke for the first time since this all happened. Her voice is strong and entirely normal. However she is constantly tired and has been told that a full recovery will take up to a year. Her teaching career is at an end, though retirement was coming up in any event.

So the story is that the Irish Health Service is still capable of performing wonders. My friend put her faith in the neurological surgeon and he came through for her – the system came through for her. Despite her tiredness and impatience to be more active she is pretty euphoric that she has dodged a bullet.

So I ought to remember – the Health Service is made up of individuals, often talented and dedicated, that are themselves victims of the infrastructure. Not every politician and judge is corrupt. The gunmen generally pot each other rather than innocents.

Those facts don’t sell papers though.