Prospect of pint of Guinness in Mournes helped Armagh man beat Covid

A 75-year-old Armagh man enjoying a pint of Guinness in the Mourne Mountains has proven to be one of the most uplifting images taken during lockdown.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 4:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th April 2021, 7:38 am
On top of the world: Damien Hamilton stands proudly at the summit of Slieve Doan

The photo of Damien Hamilton was shared online by his son Conor, who along with his brother David, had set their dad a target after he was hospitalised with Covid.

Damien’s sons gave him the goal of enjoying a pint of the black stuff at the top of Slieve Doan upon his recovery, a goal that was fulfilled on Saturday.

Conor, a former nurse who now lectures in nursing at Queen’s, said his father became unwell at the beginning of the year and had to be rushed to Craigavon Hospital due to breathing difficulties.

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His son said: “He was gasping, he was nearly blue.

“He’d done the man thing and tried to tough it out thinking it would get better.

“He was in hospital for the rest of January and the start of February.

“About halfway through January they put him on CPAP because his breathing wasn’t improving.

Damien with his son David and grandson Caolan

“CPAP more or less forces air into your lungs. It’s the last step before ICU.

“The first day he was on CPAP it was that difficult that he rang my mum and told her how to access all his money, he said he didn’t think he was going to make it.

“During the first part of the pandemic I was redeployed down to Craigavon to Covid emergency theatres.

“I’d seen first hand what happened to patients, and then knowing that your dad could possibly be going in the same direction is not pleasant.

“I said to David that we’re going to have to give him some sort of goal. We were ringing him twice every day, telling him we were going to make sure he got a pint of Guinness on Doan.”

Damien is a former marathon runner, and his healthy lifestyle was key in helping him overcome coronavirus according to doctors at Craigavon Hospital.

Conor said: “He ran a 2:38 marathon at one stage, he was very fit.

“When he couldn’t run any more he took to walking.

“He was told in Craigavon that the fact he was fit and healthy and did all that work beforehand stood to him. It definitely did help him.”

The family gave a huge thanks to Southern Trust and the community respiratory team for the role they played in keeping Damien alive.

Since getting out of hospital, his two sons have been taking him on daily walks, slowly building up the distance covered until their dad was ready to fulfil the goal of supping a Guinness on Slieve Doan.

It happened on Saturday and Conor posted a picture on Twitter to share the moment: “I posted that up for family and friends to see, I wasn’t expected this.

“The Irish News did a story, and yourselves, and he’s been on Radio Ulster. He’s loving the celebrity status.

“If some good comes out of the story, then brilliant.

“Dad says he’s waiting on Guinness to contact him. Hopefully the police will turn a blind eye to the drinking in public.”

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