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Don’t be alarmed


Diary of a home bird
Ciara Galvin

I’M still based in ‘The Big Smoke’, and I’ve gone from getting lost on public transport to bomb-disposal duty. Well, that’s not entirely accurate (completely inaccurate), but it feels like I’m Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible every time I enter my sister and her family’s home.
This fantastic service called Eircom PhoneWatch has meant that I’ve been effectively identified as a burglar on numerous occasions at my sister’s place. She’s usually there when I go to the house, so I just walk right in. However, a few weeks back I returned to an empty gaff. Walking through the door I heard this beeping, increasing in frequency with every step I took. Next thing alarm bells not only started deafening me, but the entire neighbourhood.
‘Intruder, Intruder’. I rang the sis, but her phone was engaged … turns out her neighbour was ringing her to say the Gardaí were on their way and ask if sis wanted her to go to the house. I then got a phone call from a less-than-impressed sis telling me I needed to learn the code for the alarm.
That evening I was tutored in deactivating said security technology. The following day, as I approached the house, I cut a phone call short with a friend joking, “I better go, I need my full attention for this alarm, don’t want the cops calling again.”
You know what’s coming next. With no glasses on I couldn’t see the numbers properly, and with the alarm blaring once again I was panicked and kept entering the wrong sequence. I was like Jeremy Renner in a scene from ‘The Hurt Locker’. It might have been Dublin 16, but it felt like I was in a bomb disposal unit in Baghdad. Finally, codes (correctly) entered, the cops were told to stand down.
I suppose there’s nothing worse than having An Garda Síochána called to a house that doesn’t belong to you. Oh wait, there is. You could have been caught hanging out clothes in a bath towel. Recently I was in a rush to get the house back to normal for the returning home owners and get washing out on the line. Rather than risk losing precious seconds by chucking on some clothes, I said I’d run outside quickly after my shower while the weather was good.
Halfway through hanging them out I heard the front gate of the house opening. Figuring it was swinging in the breeze, I took it as proof of the great day for drying, and kept going. Next thing I knew the cleaner was waving out the window to me. I sheepishly returned inside. We’ve never spoken about it since.
My propensity for minor calamities never ceases to amaze myself and others. It would be remiss of me not to mention one person in particular who used to enjoy my tales of woe. The late Neill O’Neill was sometimes even afraid to ask how my old car, ‘Black Beauty’, was going, and used to joke that mechanics in Ballinrobe must love to see me coming.
Neill made my career as a journalist a reality, after deciding to keep me on after a three-month internship in 2012. He was not only the boss man, but a mentor and a dear friend. His death has left a deep void in Mayo News HQ and in the lives of all who have passed through there during his tenure.

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old still living with her parents.