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'I will ring every single one...
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'I will ring every single one of them' | David Brady talks phoning GAA fans

Shane Hannon
Shane Hannon

10:39 14 Apr 2020

David Brady joined OTB AM this morning as he sought to talk about the importance of conversation during these turbulent weeks and months.

The former Mayo footballer joined Ger and Eoin and spoke about his recent decision to call random people he doesn't know, just for the chat.

It all started after he received a message last weekend, and Brady says he hasn't looked back since.

"I spent Friday and Saturday in the garden, lovely weather and everything else. On my phone I had a direct message from a guy called Kevin, and I read it and... he gave me a degree of detail that told me this guy was asking for a little.

"His father and himself go to Mayo matches, they're Mayo mad. He [his father] is a widower, he's farming down in Wicklow and moved down 39 years ago, he said 'if there's any chance you could give him a call it would lift his spirits.'

"I went sound as a pound, no problem. The conversation that I had, and subsequent conversations I have had with people, would do your heart good on the coldest of days.

"It turned out that Tom was herding two heifers when I rang him, and I'm kind of going to myself 'right, how do I pitch this? He mightn't even remember David Brady!'

"I went 'Tom, you don't know me', and he said 'I don't', but I said 'My name is David Brady, I'm from Ballina in Mayo and I played GAA for Mayo for 16 years.' I could sense straight away he thought 'is this a skit?'

"For the next 25 minutes I had one of the nicest conversations - about life, about football... he said his wife died fifteen years ago. He was more or less saying yes, he missed his wife... he spoke about his two grandkids.

"It was lovely... it turned out the two heifers he was herding was for an 83-year-old neighbour, who had a veterinary test the next morning. He was doing his good, while I was doing my very small piece.

"I did put out the message that if there's anyone that has a mother or father in any corner of the country or the world that wants to talk GAA, I'll talk it. To say it has been absolutely heart-warming, it has been unbelievable the conversations I have had, in every corner of the world.

"It's been absolutely fantastic. Do you know what I've done Ger? I've listened. It hasn't really been about football... I'm talking to people in their sixties, seventies, eighties.

"No matter who asks me, I will ring every single one of them over the next three weeks."

The conversations have quite clearly left a lasting impression on Brady, and others, including former Dublin footballer Alan Brogan, have chimed in to make calls of their own.

"The minimum I'm onto anyone is ten minutes, 35 or 40 minutes is the longest. I phoned a man, Thomas, yesterday - his son got in contact with me.

"He tells me his life story, he was seven when he had TB, missed national school and went working with his hands, labouring. He went back to college at 50 years of age, did architectural design drawing at 50, qualified at 55, now he's 67.

"His heart stopped five times last August, and he said 'you know what, I was gone, because I put the head back and I was gone. Every time the heart stopped I knew I was gone.'

"I'm coming off these phone calls with a pep in my step. Alan [Brogan] is doing it as well.

"For us... we have time, it's to make that call and just ask 'how's things, how're you keeping?' The most important part of any conversation is listening.

Brady says although these coronavirus times are incredibly hard on everyone in the country, he is hopeful we will continue the small lessons we learn into everyday life when all returns to normal.

"We have no one else to look after except each other. You're nearly stepping sidways 20 yards from humanity everytime you meet someone, it's not natural to us.

"The one thing we can still do is talk. We can still converse, we can still get each other's message across. It's not natural for us to be dodging people on a street or a path, and that's what it's going to be for a good while to come yet.

"We haven't got games and we haven't got sport... but we have our conversations and we have our voices. And whether its face-to-face or the other side of the garden fence or on the phone, I think it's good to talk.

"I'd say now I'm up on 35 or 40 phone-calls... no matter what way you have a conversation in life, it's two-way.

"The small things people are doing... and it's saying 'how are you, how's things, I'm here for you, and you're not on your own.' We can't lose these, we can't forget them.

"When this all ends, we need to continue a certain format of life that we've learned from this turbulent time. We'll look back in years to come and say, 'I remember it, but I learned from it, and maybe, maybe, I became a better person for it."

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Alan Brogan Coronavirus DB Talks David Brady GAA Mayo

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