I got a fón call ar maidín telling me Michael Barrett died. I first met Micky when we were rebuilding the New Republican Plot in Reilig Milltown in 2003. Micky was one of the stonemasons and as anyone who's been there they'll see it was a great job.
There were many volunteers - the building type - and it was a joy to work along with Micky because he was good craic.
Over the years I'd bump into him and the last time I spoke to him was about 2 weeks ago in the 3cs. We would talk about bricklaying - As I was one once upon a time!- sport, politics and general chitchat. Micky was one of the good guys and he'll obviously be sadly missed none more so than by his children, wider family and his many friends.
I wrote the other day about the death of Michael Barrett but didn't want to mention the fact he took his own life. When I called to the wakehouse the other day I spoke to Laura and when she told me what happened to Micky it was obvious his death was having a devastating effect on her. I'd spoken to Micky a number of times both in bars and out on the road and he told me he was trying to 'sort things out'. I suggested he went to see someone more qualified than me but I didn't realise just how bad he was.
Suicide is an epidemic and it's affecting people of all ages. Like many others I've been to a lot of funerals and called to the wakehouses of those who've taken their own lives and it goes without saying, it's very sad. I'm no expert but like others I've always said that if people are down or depressed there's always someone to speak to.
I'm glad the Irish News has highlighted the issue and if it means people taking notice then it has to be welcomed.