Patrick “Tatty” McMullan from Jonesborough in south Armagh died of a heart attack in November 2012. He had chest pain while helping a friend lay concrete. He was 59.
His son Ciaran said: “He told his friend Gerry that he was having pain. It must have been bad for him to mention it, because he was never a man for going to the doctor. Gerry said he would take him to hospital, but Dad wanted to change out of his work clothes first.
“After he’d changed, Gerry saw him staggering up the hall. He said he couldn’t breathe.”
An ambulance was called. By that time, Tatty’s sister, Loretta Byrne, had arrived at the house. She said: “When I got there, he was very agitated and his lips were blue. We had called a nurse who lived nearby while we waited for the ambulance. It all happened in a matter of seconds. Some froth appeared on his lips and we knew by the nurse’s reaction that it was too late.”
Said Ciaran: “The ambulance team worked on him for a good hour, but he died right there in the house. If he’d just had 10 more minutes he might have made it to hospital.”
Tatty’s brother Barney said: “The mortuary van took him away instead. It was the hardest thing I had ever seen – his body being taken away in a bag.”
The family miss Tatty so much. Loretta said, “It leaves an awful emptiness, especially when something happens that you want to tell him about.” Barney added, “Sometime I wake up in the morning and I have forgotten, then it hits me again.”
The whole family and the wider Jonesborough community have thrown themselves into fundraising for Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke. They have raised around £28,000 since Tatty passed away. (2012–2015) They fully support the heart campaign. They want other people to be able to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack and know to take quick action. Nothing can bring Tatty back, but their wish is that other families be spared the pain they have gone through.
Find out more about the cardiac support services that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offer.