Creative Ireland

  One of the great legacies of the 1916 commemorations was the setting up of Creative Ireland, a five-year initiative designed to build on the success of the artistic, musical and cultural magic that came out of communities engaging with the centenary celebrations in 2016. How those celebrations were marked was not decreed by central government. Instead, local communities decided for themselves what would go on in their own area, and as a result, we witnessed an explosion of original, inspiring, moving events that captured the collective heart.  There was… Read More

Positive thinking and other myths about cancer

  Somebody you know has been diagnosed with cancer and has become withdrawn, moody and bad-tempered. You think they’re not handling this well at all. Do you say: a) You’ll be fine. Be positive. b) You need to talk about it. I know a good counsellor. c) You’re going through the stages of grief. It’s normal. If you ticked any of the above, sorry, you’re not helping. According to Dr Paul D’Alton, Head of the Department of Psycho-oncology at St Vincent’s University Hospital Dublin, there is no right or wrong way to… Read More

Hugh’s House: The extraordinary work of an Irish mother

    Dublin mother Ade Stack counted the days she had with her son Hugh (pictured, above). They came to 247, just over eight months, most of which were spent in hospital. Through each of those 247 days, Ade was struck by the plight of other parents around her, particularly those who had to travel from far away, separated from family and friends, sleeping on floors and chairs to be close to their children, with none of the everyday facilities that we all take for granted. So when Hugh died, she and her partner Marty… Read More

Race Matters: John Connors in America

  On March 1 2017 Irish Travellers were formally recognised as a distinct ethnic minority by the Irish government. Nobody was more pleased than actor John Connors, a Traveller and one of the great activists of his generation. A few months earlier, RTE aired his fascinating documentary called Race Matters: John Connors’ America. In it he explored racism among two groups – African Americans and Native Americans – and for me, the programme made for compulsive viewing, not least because it was from the unique perspective of an Irish Traveller. And while the violence on the… Read More

Older people are dying of loneliness

  “I don’t think people appreciate how serious an issue loneliness is in Ireland,” says Justin Moran of Age Action. In fact, the Institute of Public Health found that one in ten older people suffers from chronic loneliness. State services may lag far behind need, but charities, some local communities and at least one resourceful entrepreneur have come up with some very lovely and clever ways to address this particular problem. Read on…  

Motherhood is not for every woman – and that’s okay

When I was married thirty-odd years ago I hadn’t yet managed to undo the Catholic ties that bound, so rather than a civil ceremony, a trip up the aisle was planned. More of a run, really. We were engaged after six weeks, and we wanted to get on with it. The church insisted we post marriage banns for three months. Aww gawd, three months? Do we have to? Yes. We didn’t ‘have to’ get married. In the 1970s and ’80s, any rush to the altar was usually followed by the first-born a lot less than nine months later, not… Read More

Moore Street Battles On

   Don’t it always seem to go That you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone (Big Yellow Taxi, Joni Mitchell)   The year of commemorative events to mark 1916 may soon be drawing to a close, but like the Rising itself, a fierce battle over the future of a key Easter Week site is set to reverberate for a long time to come. Already the focus of years of discussion, deliberations and frequently intense debate, the latest chapter of the Moore Street controversy began on 27th October 2016… Read More

Girl Code: The Ten Rules for Staying Safe

  It’s one of those stories that makes parents lie awake at night, anxiously waiting to hear the front door opening and the clunking sound of shoes coming off at the foot of the stairs, followed by muffled laughter and whispers as young adult children and friends arrive home in the small hours. They’re safe. It’s all that matters. One Friday night last January, 20-year-old India Chipchase went out with her friends and never came home. India was a beautiful, vibrant woman with her whole life ahead of her when a predator spotted her outside a Northampton… Read More

I Am Traveller

John Connors is a talented actor, writer and film director who’s also a proud member of the Travelling community. He fronted the excellent TV programme ‘I Am Traveller’ on RTE, a gritty documentary that gave a real insight into Traveller culture, traditions and values, and laid out for all to see the raft of discrimination Travellers face in Ireland today. Find out more in this interview he did with me for the Irish Independent: No Matter What You Do, You’re Seen as a Drunken, Smelly Knacker

Mindfulness for Kids

  When a small school in Mayo introduced mindfulness classes for its 68 pupils, playground scraps ended almost immediately, children reported feeling less stressed and teacher Sarah Billington is so impressed with their progress she says, “We’re teaching kids to be emotionally intelligent throughout their lives.” Find out more here:   How Mindfulness is Teaching Children to Cope in School   Devised by Derval Dunford and Dr Ann Caulfield and sanctioned by the Department of Education, Mindfulness Matters is a programme for schools designed to help children cope with the stresses and strains… Read More