burning  | 

Irish actor who ended up in coma after being struck by lightning to return to stage

Lightning struck actor hopes to strike it lucky in the U.S.

David Gilna

Eugene Masterson

AN Irish actor who ended up in a coma for several months after being struck by lightning in Boston is returning to the city for the first time since the incident to stage a play there.

Dubliner David Gilna will be performing his play ‘A Bolt from D’blue’ in several American cities later this month as part of his first major US tour.

Swords man David was on a J1 visa when he visited Boston.

“I was on a balcony on a beautiful sunny day in South Boston in 2004. I was on a J1 Visa like many past Irish students before me exploring the possibilities of ‘The American Dream’ then out of the blue I was struck by lightning,” he recalls.

The average lightning bolt has a one billion-volt charge - and survival is very rare.

“I was on a balcony on the third floor and I went to move a ladder,” he remembers.

He was afraid it would fall over because it was at an angle.

"Literally out of the blue the lightning bolt struck a one in a couple of million chance.

“It went in through my right hand and exited on my left foot and I blanked out from the searing pain. I just was on fire,” he recollects.

“The world stopped, time didn't exist for that moment and I hadn't felt pain like it before in my life. The force sent my body flying backward. My heart stopped beating and for a moment I was lost between worlds.

“If I close my eyes, I can still hear that earth-shattering bang from mother nature, the smell from my burning skin.

“But the energy I felt from my Guardian Angel let me know that I was alive and survived whatever had just happened to me.

"You never forget your first breath back into this world. In what we call 'the now'.”

He had to undergo several months of medical intervention.

“My recovery was a mental and physical journey over years,” he explains. “After realising I was actually hit by lightning I had to survive my time in the Intensive Care Unit. Eventually, I was released from The Boston Medical Centre. I started a course of rehab, working on my balance and mobility. I owe those doctors and nurses my life.

“My nervous system has been ‘altered’ each bolt of lightning can contain one billion volts. Just my wiring is slightly different to the norm now. I’m a survivor, I survived and whatever happens, happens. But I can walk now, touch, kiss, laugh and one day love. But the lightning gave me a second chance at life and inspired me to become a playwright & screenwriter. Now i finally get to return to where it all happened and perform my story in the city that scarred my skin but gave me life“

In his powerful one-man show "’ Bolt From D'Blue’ David recounts his early dreams of being a performer, his family history, his first arrival to the US, and, of course, the moment that changed his life forever: being struck by lightning.

He deftly guides people through the humour and horror of this near-death experience, weaving the trauma of this life-changing event into a poignant and unforgettable show.

David’s play will be staged at the following venues from next weekend.

Boston - Irish Cultural Center of England, Canton (Saturday June 18); New York – An Beal Bocht café, Bronx (June 22); Philadelphia – Commodore Barry Arts Centre (June 24); Los Angeles – Theatre of Arts, Hollywood (July 1)

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