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 Curley decided to do something about it.

Using the money they would have spent raising Hugh had he lived, they took on a project as ambitious as it is wonderful and momentous. They bought a big old house in the centre of Dublin and turned it into a home-from-home where families of sick children can come and stay as long as they need to, at no cost.

“Putting on a wash is how I love Hugh”

It’s often the little things that make such a difference. It bothered Ade that families staying with their sick babies had nowhere to wash their clothes.

“Now, when I put on a wash, I tell Hugh that because we do this in his name, people can be refreshed and feel good about themselves,” she says. “They can live as normal a life as possible during the precious time they have with their children.”

It took me nearly four months to get this story, because Ade protects her families with all the instincts of a lioness watching her cubs. Coming up to Christmas wasn’t a good time, could I wait till January? Of course. January came and went. I called in February. No, the time had to be right. Finally, in April, it was, and I got to speak with two mothers who told me how much Hugh’s House meant to them.

Will you make sure it’s not misery lit, Ade added. You have my word. Tell me this though, I asked her, how do you manage to be hands-on in Hugh’s House, expand the accommodation to the house next door to be opened later this year, run a chain of pharmacies and raise three children? What are you, Superwoman?

Multi-tasking is a myth, she said. Each of us can do only one thing at any given time. I’m talking to you right now, and after this, I’ll be doing something else, just as you will be. It’s the same for everyone.

Now and then you meet someone who truly makes the world a better place. Ade Stack is one of them.

You can read my article in the Irish Independent here: “When a child dies, we have to let them go, but you never let the love go.”

An inaugural Cycle for Hugh’s House, from Mizen Head to Malin Head, will take place from August 3rd to 17th 2017. To support this initiative, donate, volunteer your services or find out more, click here: