| 10.4°C Dublin

Vile disease Liam Cunningham says he wouldn't wish emotional roller-coaster of dad's death on anyone

'It went on for a while after, maybe a month or six weeks, he had all this energy and then it seemed to just fall out of his body'


Liam Cunningham

Liam Cunningham

Liam Cunningham

Actor Liam Cunningham has said he “wouldn't wish it on anybody” as he recalled the emotional roller-coaster he endured when his dad was dying. 

The Dubliner said his dad was diagnosed with lung cancer and was given nine weeks left to live, but held on for nine months.

The Game of Throes star told how he almost panicked one day to find his father’s bed empty in St Francis Hospice in Raheny where he was suffering from lung cancer.

"So I used to pop in at 10am every morning and I walked around to his room and he wasn't there, there was nobody in the bed,” he told Doireann Garrihy's the Laughs of your Life podcast.

“And he'd been really bad for a few days before and it was touch and go for a while and I got to the bed and he wasn't there.

"So, of course, you kind of go, 'Has he passed away? Is he gone?'

"So I grabbed the first person and tried not to shout asking, 'Where's my dad? Where is he?' Dreading the answer.

"And they said, 'He's down in the canteen'. And I was wondering, 'Why would my dead father be in the canteen?'

"Weird things go through your mind! So I just heard canteen and I just sort of walked away without an explanation and I got myself down really quickly.

"The first table was just inside the double doors and I can tell my dad's back from anybody and he was hunched over and he was eating a big fry.

"And I roared at him - he'd frightened the bejaysus out of me - and I said, 'What are you doing!?'

"And he just looked at me like I'm an idiot and he said, 'I'm having my breakfast.'

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"And I said, 'Dad, you weren't even conscious yesterday!' and he said, 'I know, I woke up and I was hungry'.

"So, I sort of laughed with a sense of relief but I should've been crying."

He added: "You're delighted he's there but you have all of these mixed emotions.

"Anybody that's gone through this vile disease knows the emotional ups and downs, the emotional rollercoaster...it's horrific, just horrific.

"I wouldn't wish it on anybody.

"It went on for a while after, maybe a month or six weeks, he had all this energy and then it seemed to just fall out of his body.

"But we were all there with him, he was never on his own.”

Liam said he could never thank the staff enough for the care they gave his dad.

"St Francis Hospice in Raheny - the people there are angels and Gods on this earth, the dignity they give people close to death or who are in terrible pain.

“To see the relief and the work that they do, I could never thank them enough for looking after my dad in the last weeks and months of his life.

"I wasn't earning much money at the time, I took essentially eight weeks off work because I was so afraid of being away working when he passed away.”

Liam said: "My dad, God rest him he's dead 20 or 21 years this year and he got lung cancer and we were given an estimate by the oncologist that... he'd nine weeks. But my dad, being the stubborn b*****d that he is, he held on for nine months.”

Liam who is father to three children, Liam Jnr, Sean and Ellen, also told of feeling guilty being away from his family while filming.

He was in China and his wife Colette called him to say his then 10-year-old son had to undergo an emergency operation.

Liam said: “I got a phone call from my wife saying my son was about to go in for an emergency appendectomy.

“So he was going under the knife. I was with my daughter. I had brought my daughter over who was 14 at the time.

“My daughter had to talk me down. We were out and about for a walk.

“I think it was Shanghai and I was feeling like I was a complete selfish b*****d because I was indulging myself with my passion, my love of making movies, which is not the most essential thing people can do on the planet.

“It’s not cardiovascular surgery. I was feeling incredibly selfish and incredibly guilty even though it pays the bills. You still feel like I’m not around for my boy, just to hold his hand or whatever.

“There was no way I could even hop on a plane.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices