Against the Odds
Author: Andy McGovern
Foreword by Jimmy Magee
Publication Date: February 2013
Category: Biography and Memoir
Andy McGovern was born on a small farm near Aughavas in County Leitrim in 1933 and, like other rural children of the time, shared in his family’s seasonal work of sowing crops, saving hay and turf and harvesting potatoes and oats. From his parents’ generation, which worked so hard to survive in the poor decades of the mid-20th century, he believes he inherited his strength of will and ability to call on the ‘inner hero’ to deal with adversity. In the 1950s, like so many of his peers, he emigrated to London, where he was involved in construction and bar work. He married a local girl and they returned to live in Leitrim in 1964. They had six young children and Andy had established a successful machinery contracting business when, at the age of forty-three, in 1976, he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and told he had two to five years to live.
Thirty-seven years later he is still walking, talking, having fun and drinking Guinness through a straw in McCaffrey’s pub in Aughavas, although he has completely lost the use of his arms and hands. His story of how he dealt with the shocking diagnosis and the equally shocking prognosis and rediscovered his will to live and enjoy nature, his surroundings, his children, grandchildren and friends is an inspiring one. Andy is the longest surviving person with motor neurone disease in Ireland and his hip replacement, in March 2012, was a medical first.
In his Foreword, Jimmy Magee writes: ‘Since I first met Andy, through the IMNDA, I have considered him an inspirational figure. In this book he attributes his strength of character to the example of his parents’ generation. I don’t know where he got his huge courage but it is an example to everyone, able-bodied or disabled.’