Alfie’s Escapades by Liz McCue

Light-hearted read with powerful message 

Waterford Healing Arts Trust (WHAT) was honoured to host the posthumous launch of Alfie’s Escapades, the second book by former renal dialysis patient Liz McCue, on Tuesday 6 December, to mark Liz’s first anniversary.  The launch took place in WHAT and was attended by members of Liz’s family, friends, staff from the Renal Dialysis Unit at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) and the WHAT team.  Alfie’s Escapades was officially launched by Consultant Nephrologist Dr Sean Leavey and is a wonderful collection of stories from the point of view of Liz’s beloved Jack Russell.  Alfie’s Escapades is available from The Book Centre, Waterford, the Post Office in Kilmacthomas, Co Waterford and from Waterford Healing Arts Trust, price €10.00.

Alfie is a small dog with a big heart.  Always on the lookout for a chance to romance his Sheila-dog neighbour next door, he also keeps a loving eye on his Momma.  Why does she have to go to hospital so often?  What does she do in there?  And who is Mabel?  Following the success of her autobiography Thursday’s Child, author and renal dialysis patient Liz McCue’s imagination takes flight in this collection of stories from her beloved Jack Russell.  Light-hearted and fun, Alfie’s observations also offer a rare insight to the daily life of a feisty renal warrior, gently reminding us that life is for living, to the full.

For almost 20 years, Liz McCue was a patient of renal dialysis at UHW.  It was here that she connected with Waterford Healing Arts Trust, which supports patients through long hours on dialysis by providing opportunities to be creative: visual art, creative writing, music and photography.  Through the Arts Programme, which is funded by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund, Liz found her creative voice, and drew great sustenance from being involved in much of the work WHAT produced with patients and staff of the dialysis unit over the years, including All About Us, Unfolding Time, Tea Room Tales, and her ‘magnum opus’, Thursday’s Child.

Speaking at the launch of Alfie’s Escapades, Dr Sean Leavey said “Tonight we are honouring Liz and celebrating her last work. Liz was an incredibly feisty, resilient woman.  Early along the way in her dialysis journey, through her artistic mentors in Waterford Healing Arts Trust, she discovered her writing muse and she had the tenacity and courage to let it take flight and lead her wherever it might.  Alfie’s Escapades is a light hearted read, but through the stories, Liz tells her journey with chronic kidney disease over the couple of years of her life through COVID.  It’s a powerful message, and an opportunity for her as a person to tell us what those two years were like as a renal patient.  There’s a great warmth jumping off the pages, and a lovely turn of phrase.”

He went on to say “Liz always had a smile, twinkling eyes… She could illuminate a room, and I think anyone who wants to have a template for approaching life or challenges could really do no better than read the Introduction to Alfie’s Escapades… it’s full of very positive, very clear advice.  Liz was always about what she needed to do to make things happen, and then doing them.  Not sitting back.  In her own words she ‘oozed ambition and purpose’ and she exhorts all of us to find purpose, saying we must ‘go with our own flow, and do the very best we can, before life slips by.’”

In addition to Dr Leavey, the other guest speakers at the launch of Alfie’s Escapades Jane Cullen, Clinical Nurse Manager (CNM) of the Renal Dialysis Unit at UHW, Brenda Ronan, retired CNM of the Renal Dialysis Unit, WHAT artist Philip Cullen, musician and retired dialysis nurse Mary Prendergast, who paid a beautiful musical tribute to Liz, and Claire Meaney and Maeve Butler, Director and Assistant Director of WHAT.