When we first moved to Ireland various friends came to visit us. One of them was Rowena. We took her around Galway and one afternoon while walking along the side of the Corrig we noticed a girl sat on the wall over looking the river and a man holding on to her. At first glance it looked like it was innocent playful fun between two happy lovers. Looking again it was as though he was trying to get us to walk on and ignore him which instantly set alarm bells ringing in my head. Looking again, just to try and clarify what was going on the man finally got my full attention. He was in fact holding on to her as she was about to throw herself in!
I’ve got no idea how long he was there for, holding on to her, but I grabbed hold of her other arm and together we got her off the wall and on to the floor at which point she broke down into floods of tears and tried to tell us how there was no point to anything and we should have just let her do it. The man walked off!
We walked her around the corner towards the hotel, not really knowing what I was going to do but knowing that I couldn’t leave her there and had to get her away from the water. We set on the steps and I gestured to Brad in sign to get the Garda. I really didn’t know who else to call other than an ambulance and I wasn’t going to waste their time with this.
I sat on the steps with this young girl, my arm round her, not trying to probe but just trying to be a friendly face. She sat there crying and told me to go.
“Do you want me to go?” I asked.
“I don’t want to spoil your day!” she sobbed.
“Oh don’t worry about me, I’ve got nothing to do!” I lied. I told Brad that he and Row could go on if they wanted and I’d call them when the Garda didn’t need or want me anymore.
The Garda were great. Well, one of them was. The lead Garda was brilliant, the other chap was a bit useless.
“What’s your name?” asked the lead Garda to which she blubbed out a reply I couldn’t really understand.
“How old you?”
“15,” she said.
My head was reeling! What on earth could have happened to a 15 year old girl to get her to this level. He asked her where she lived and where he parents were and for some reason (I can only think it’s because she wanted to be away from them) they were nearly two hours away from Galway. The Garda explained to her that they were going to take her to the station but she wasn’t in trouble, it was just so that she could get a hot drink, get warm, and maybe have a chat with the doctor. She kept blubbing that she didn’t want to and that we should just let her jump into the Corrib. Turns out she as pregnant and with no abortion laws in Ireland there was little she couldn’t do. She didn’t want her parents knowing.
I sat there with her for another five minutes or so, not trying to get her to talk as it as obvious she was in no mood to talk things out, but generally just replying to any statements she made. The patrol car arrived and selfishly the first thought that entered my head was that it meant I could now enjoy the rest of my day with Row and Brad. The Garda asked me for my details and thanked me for my help. He’d been talking to her while trying to keep strangers and by-passers away and it was damn obvious he’d had some form of counselling trainer.
I often wonder what happened to her.