'Even still, to this day, it'll never, ever, leave me': remembering blindness from German Measles


'Even still, to this day, it'll never, ever, leave me': remembering blindness from German Measles


German Measles


Alison Morley, who was interviewed by Lorraine Cahalane in 1998, grew up on the Northside of Cork City. At the very beginning of the interview, she is asked about her earliest memory, and she recalls getting her sight for the first time at the age of four, after having lost her sight after contracting German Measles. She describes what it was like to be blind as a child, and how that experience will never leave her.

Full transcript of this interview extract:

LC Right. Now, Alison, what would be your most earliest memory?
AM Em, remembering as a child of the age of 4 that I was just after getting my sight for the very first time cos I was blind and em
LC And how were you blind? What happened?
AM Eh, it was just by contracting German Measles
And when I just got my sight back then it just seemed like being like everybody else
LC Right
AM You know. Frightening been in an ambulance and
LC Do you remember being blind, what it was like?
AM Yeah I do, I remember, em, like, trying to hold onto things and touching the door to see if the door was open or closed or holding the table to get myself in and out and things like that. Not being able to see my sister.
LC Oh right.
AM Cos I didn’t realise what she looked like. But then being in hospital, and knowing people are coming into the room but you can’t see them
LC Yeah
AM You know and then all of a sudden you can see again
LC Right
AM And looking, the very thing of, even fruit inside in a basket. You could always touch things, but you could never see them, I never knew what they looked like. Even to touch the difference between an orange or an apple or a banana or a pear or something like that. Or even smaller fruit but eh, no it always sticks, I think it always will, it’ll never leave me.
LC And at that age kids are very curious aren’t they? Like the 2 and 3
AM Yeah exactly. Em, you know even trying to, as I said a while ago, the difference between even a door opened and closed, you know, trying to discover, is it open, is it closed, can you walk straight through? You know. Or even touching things. In my, most of the time I can even remember walking through a door and ending up crying as a child because you get so agitated that you just, you know you’re getting annoyed with yourself that you didn’t actually open the door before you actually walked through it.
LC And how’d your mother cope with this? Like when you started walking now for instance?
AM Em I suppose grand, well it was just normal for people to you know, she had to, I suppose she had to cope with it, because she had to show me what to do, she had to show me how to touch things and, like, put my one leg forward if you’re going down a step now or things like that that, I’m not going to fall but em, I don’t know, I suppose she ju.. In a way I suppose when I look back at it now she might have, she probably did cope well with it you know ‘Cause there wasn’t much of an age gap between me and my sister that eh, she just had to do it I suppose.
LC Right. And do you remember your fir.. like your vivid memory now, would be the first thing you saw? What was that?
AM I was actually in an ambulance on the way to the hospital and, em, telling them, telling the nurse and telling my mother that I can see, and they just thought it was a lie, that I didn’t want to go to hospital, and I was telling them the colour of something that was there, and I can tell her what she had on her and I said, ‘Mom don’t bring me to the hospital, I can see, I can see’ and they just couldn’t believe it ‘till they actually done a test, but kept me in then under observation just in case it was going to go again and why was it going.
LC Right
AM Was there something wrong with the brain that was affecting my eyesight or something. But…
LC Jesus, you’re very lucky
AM Yeah even still, to this very day, it’ll never ever leave me. You know and I’ve a little one and I’ve often told her about, like I say, ‘Mammy didn’t have any sight when she was your age now,’ and you know and like, it’s, I don’t know I suppose
LC [unintelligible]
AM Exactly. And no one can ever actually experience it only, I can’t experience it, I can’t even imagine it now, you know, I can’t kinda turn around and say, ‘God did that really happen to me,’ because it did, and I just had to learn to cope with it but even if I see blind people today saying, ‘I could still be like them if my sight never came back’.
LC I know yeah
AM You know.
LC Jesus.
AM But em…
LC Very lucky.
AM Yeah, exactly.


Cork Folklore Project


Interviewee: Alison Morley
Interviewer: Lorraine Cahalane


Cork Folklore Project


Cork Folklore Project


13 May 1998


.MP3 audio file, 4 minutes 02 seconds




Cork Folklore Project, “'Even still, to this day, it'll never, ever, leave me': remembering blindness from German Measles,” Health, accessed February 2, 2023, https://corkfolklore.org/health/items/show/3.

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