'I was a member of a private men's club back in the '80s. A few of us used to meet up for pints and a chat but that was 24 years ago. I don't drink or smoke anymore. I gave up all that fun for health reasons. Anyway, one time we decided to have an auction for Somalia – I think someone had a sister who was a nun working out there and one of the chaps in the club worked in RTÉ said he knew Gay Byrne so he asked him if he'd be willing to donate something for the auction. Gay said he would and gave him the oil painting of himself that was on the wall in his office. I ended up buying the painting at the auction – that was back in 1987. On the back of the oil painting Gay signed it "With love from Gay Byrne on 27th November 1987". I had it hanging in my front room for a good few years but then I put it in the attic. You don't want Gay Byrne looking at you all the time.
I actually sent Gay a letter a few years ago and asked him about the artist because I couldn't make out the name on the painting. Then one day Gay rang me up and said: "Look Des, I don't know who it is, I forget. It was a long time ago but good luck with it." He's always had great charisma. Just think of the amazing people he has interviewed. I think most people in Ireland like Gay Byrne and respect him. He's the longest-running chat show host in the world, which by any standards is quite an achievement.
I'm selling the painting for a few reasons. I'd like the proceeds to help me and benefit a charity. I actually asked a homeless charity to take the painting and put it up for auction. Then if they sold it, I'd just take half but they wouldn't go for it. They wanted all or nothing and I couldn't do that. It's a shame because I'd like to help homeless people and half of the money could have been quite substantial. I haven't had any interest so far but if I manage to sell the painting I'll make a donation to a homeless charity. Another reason I'm selling it is that I'm hoping to go away on holiday. I try to go away every April to the Costa del Sol but things are a bit tight at the moment and so needs must. I love the sun and have a bit of arthritis so the heat gives me a bit of relief. I don't even put sun cream on but I'm well protected by good spirits.
Sometimes it's tough being a medium. I predicted my father's death when I was 16. I left the house and got to the gate when a voice in my head said "Which of your parents do you want to die first?" I got halfway down the road and I felt I had to make a decision so I said "My father". He died that night. Saying those words didn't bother me. I knew that I didn't choose him to die. I just picked up on his imminent death. I also predicted my sister's death. I became a carer to look after her when my mother died in 1991. She suffered from epilepsy and used to have bad seizures and blackouts. One day, when my brother was visiting, I told him that I felt it was nearly her time to go and leave us. Two days later, she stood outside my room, said thanks for everything and dropped dead.
I don't lie about my gift and I don't charge people. But you'd be surprised how challenging it is to be a medium and a healer. I get attacked by bad spirits all the time but I'm not afraid because I've had to deal with it for so long."