Merchant’s Quay case study: ‘I walked out of prison, I went to get gear’

Kieran, from Limerick, describes time in jail and his efforts to escape drug addiction

Counsellor Emma Geoghegan talking to a resident in recovery at the Merchants Quay residential facility on Gracepark Road, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Counsellor Emma Geoghegan talking to a resident in recovery at the Merchants Quay residential facility on Gracepark Road, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Kieran (31), Limerick: “I grew up in foster homes and got moved around a lot; thrown around from family to family and residential units. And I basically went off the wall. I left school in sixth class, only did a few weeks in first year and then went working when I was 13.

“I started slipping then, drinking and smoking and taking speed, tablets, anything I could get my hands on. Growing up in Limerick and going through the services, you know the fellas selling gear and you get it.

“I was out robbing every day to get the money up, from shops, people, robbing stuff out of cars. When I was 17, I started taking heroin and I was strung out until I was 28 years old. I loved taking heroin and what it did for me. It blocked everything from my early years and I didn’t have a care in the world.

“But in time I ended up on the streets because of it. I’d been in jail and got clean in there but when I came out I had nowhere to go and literally the minute I walked out the gate of the prison I went to get gear; straight back on it. I ended up begging for money. I didn’t have the head for robbing any more, I kept getting caught. I was at the stage where I didn’t care if I lived or died.

‘Five-year sentence’

“I ended up getting locked up and I did a five-year sentence which I came out of recently. I’d done a robbery and a fella got badly hurt. That scared me. I wondered how far more it could go after that. I lost my brother when I was in jail and I suppose I just got a wake-up call after that. I was 28.

“When I was in the prison I was taking methadone and I hooked up with Merchant’s Quay [prison project] and they referred me on here. I got temporary release to come to this place; the prison van drove me from jail to here in January. I really put the effort in in prison; did my Leaving Cert. I felt like I’d lost out on a lot in life. So I said to myself: ‘Why not do this?’

“It’s intense but I wanted to be here. I’m in a Merchant’s Quay transition house with six others in Dublin since April, but my six months there is nearly up.

“The problem is now that there’s nowhere for me to go. I’ll probably end up back in a hostel. That’ll be hard. I’ll be back around active users, you know.”