Mark’s on a mission after life-changing accident

On April 11th, 2014, Mark McClean lost control of his car on a dangerous stretch of road not too far from his home in Ballinalee, Co. Longford. Mark, who wasn’t wearing his seatbelt at the time, was ejected through the sunroof, his body slamming into a tree, while his car was flipped onto its roof.

The first person on the scene that night was Mark’s own mother, or his “guardian angel”, as he calls her. She was making her way home from a game of bingo.

“I must have a pretty hard head,” the 33-year-old told Roscommon People this week, “thank God for bingo!”

Following the accident, Mark was taken to Mullingar Hospital before being transferred to the Mater Hospital, where he spent a month in a coma. When he came to, he was faced with the news that he was paralysed from the chest down and would now be confined to a wheelchair.

The qualified cabinet maker and father of two daughters, Jasmine (14) and Esme (9), says it was a difficult transition at first.

“It was only after that my family told me the priest gave me the Last Rites in Mullingar. My sister went mad, telling them all I was still alive,” he said.

“I had survived but I was in the Mater for two months before moving to the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) – that was one of the best times of my life, believe it or not!

“There were two other guys around the same age as me there and we had great craic. It’s so important to have good people around you especially for your mental health”.

While rehabilitation has been tough, Mark says he was also lucky to be surrounded by the love and support of his family.

“The first couple of years were very hard. I had to learn to do everyday things again…like managing the toilet, for example,” he said.

“My beautiful daughters, Jasmine and Esme, got me through those first couple of years. I’m so thankful to them…they just make me so happy”.

Since his accident, Mark has been busy putting his life back together. He is thankful to all at Lough Ree Access For All for helping him to return to work.

“I truly believe that everything happens for a reason,” he says.

“There have been so many good things happening for me in the last year…my work with Lough Ree Access For All is one of the biggest things in my life.

“I took the boat out on the lake and it was one of the best feelings!”

Keen to maintain his independence, Mark managed to pass his driving test for adapted control vehicles while at the NRH. But still he wants to do more, and it’s for this reason he recently became the newest presenter at local radio station, RosFM.

“I’ve been through everything following my accident…anxiety, depression, you name it. Through this new radio show I’ve called ‘Mark My Words’, I want to share my story and let other people share theirs too,” he said.

“As I said, I believe everything happens for a reason and now I just want to keep going and do even more with my life”.

Mark McClean presents ‘Mark My Words’ on RosFM 94.6 each Monday from 12 pm to 1 pm.