On my holiday in Greece in June I learned that the word idio̱tikós means private.  The Greeks obviously think that people who live alone are idiots.  They love communal living.

Having just returned from a holiday in Portugal which I shared with two daughters, one son-in-law, one son-in-law in waiting and five grandchildren aged between 1 and 9 I have to agree with them.  I had a great time and whilst there were a variety of personalities involved for the most part we cohabited happily.

Not to have shared the sun, the swimming pool, the beach and the sardines  would have been a terrible shame.


G what a week

I am spending three days in Galway at the wonderful G hotel*.  Daughter Ro is working and kindly invited me to join her.

I did the races on Tuesday which was a disaster.  I didn’t lose money but it was cold, windy and depressing.  I just could not understand why there were so many scantily dressed women with hats on, tripping about on heels so high I felt more of a midget than I usually do.  I think their endurance and giddiness might have had something to do with alcohol, it’s only a guess.

On Wednesday I went into the ESPA  at the G where I was alone in the Thermal suite.  Sauna, shower with essences, vitality pool with pulsating seats, oh heaven.  I felt like a film star and there were no mirrors in sight to disenchant me.  An aromatherapy massage and half an hour in the rooftop relaxation room gazing out at the swaying trees as I sipped my complimentary smoothie completed the idyll. 

Invigorated temporarily I took a quick taxi ride into Galway where I  had great fish and chips in Michael McDonagh’s on Quay Street.  I have never tasted batter so crisp.  I wandered around the shops, bought a couple of books in Charlie Byrne’s and wondered at all the accents around me. Tourists Galore for race week.  A scone and a pot of tea in Goya’s and I was ready to return to my luxurious accommodation. 

Once in the room I fell asleep and was only awakened by daughter Ro’s return from the races three hours later.

As we made our way downstairs we could hear the  jazz and soul music being played and sung by Victor Haynes and Dean Houston who by some miracle of modern technology were able to walk around the lounges, bars and restaurant as they performed.  Of course Ro and I knew most of the songs and she did a pretty good low key duet with the saxophonist as he played Lady in Red to us as we dined.

Can things get any better I ask myself?  Not much surely but I still have a day to go.

* Link in German for A and S


Funny the things you remember when the sun shines.

It was a Sunday in July 1981.  All the children were scrubbed and dressed and dying to get there.  We went every year and thank goodness this day was a hot one.

We boarded the bus and as we drew near Michael started to sing: At Booterstown the cab broke down and the cabman lost his whiskers …. The rest embarrassed tried to shut him up.  I held back the tears. Their daddy had taught them that one.  I could never make out what it was all about.

The Fair was full of all the usual things – the rides, the white elephant stall, the tombola.  The children anxious to spend their pocket money were dashing off in all directions.  As I watched them I was overcome with grief and unable to hide I sat on the grass as my tears flowed.

Everything was the same as last year and the year before only this time, for the first time, he wasn’t there.

July 2010, thirty years later, sunny days like this bring back memories and I miss him.

Who wants to know?

I am trying to edit my memoir.  It covers the first 40 years of my life.  I have already lived it and now have written it – as much my memory allows that is – and I find it all incredibly wearing.  I cannot stand back and be impartial.  I can’t image that anyone would be that interested.

Initially I wrote with my grandchildren in mind.  I imagine them reading it at the age of 18 or thereabouts and try to conjure up what their reaction would be.

At the recent writing course in Skyros, we read out our scribblings.  It became habitual for each member to apologise before they started to read.  It got a bit much and Wendy suggested that people should pay her a fine for each excuse.  She could have made a fortune.

Another exercise we did at Skyros was to write a blurb for our work.  Here’s mine.

Ann, the youngest of a family of four, was born ten days before the Second World War in the German Hospital in Hackney, East London.  Eddie, her brother, accompanied her pregnant mother to the hospital whereupon he was asked if he was the father.  He was only 15.

School life, first jobs, social awareness were all part of the growing up process until Ann met Peter in Cornwall when she was 20.  She fell deeply in love and they married quickly.  Very shortly after the marriage Ann finds out that she doesn’t know her man at all.  Secrets emerge.

Their subsequent emigration to Ireland and the birth of her eight children tested the marriage.  Ann loved being a mother and even though times were hard she made the most of every day.  It could have had a fairy tale ending but the death of her husband in tragic circumstances threatened everyone’s survival.

Here’s £50 Wendy.  I can’t even write a good piece for the back page!

Roll on Thursday

I don’t know how I ever got the time to work.

On Monday I had a call from a man who I met on a Mediterranean cruise a few years back.  He is an entertainer on the ships and he wooed me with his rendition of Annie’s Song on the piano.  We enjoyed one another’s company and meeting him was the highlight of my holiday.  The piano man is cruising around the British Isles and had a stopover in Dublin for a couple of hours.   He came to lunch in Daughter Ro’s place so what with her, the twins and son M who happened to be passing, we were well chaperoned.  Great to see him again though.

On then to a wonderful dinner in Daughter S’s house (roast pork all the trimmings, strawberries and cream and great wine)  and then home to the empty apartment.  It is strangely quiet without my flatmates.

On Tuesday the sink was blocked and try as I might I couldn’t fix it.  The dishwasher and the washing machine all seem to have the same outlet so there was water flowing in all directions.

I abandoned all hope and went to my book club meeting to discuss Puddin’ Head Wilson by Mark Twain.  This was a great success as for once everyone had actually read the book and after a couple of glasses of wine I was ready for the blocked sink.  Daughter Ra bought me some mighty stuff  in Dunne’s Stores on the way home which promised to do the job overnight.

On Wednesday morning the sink was still blocked.  I went to the local hardware and bought a large plunger and industrial strength drain unblocker which I took with me to lunch in Pichet, currently my favourite restaurant.  The nice waiter hid my bag.  He could see the plunger sticking out and we both tacitly agreed (just with a glance) that it didn’t quite do in such a nice establishment.  I met my son E  and two of his neighbours from the US and we had a great meal and conversation flowed.

Would the water from the sink do the same I pondered as I walked home.  I donned rubber gloves, poured the solution down the drain, stood back and 15 minutes later the water is draining and fingers crossed the situation is under control.

What next …

Unaccustomed as I am ……


I have eight wonderful children who are all here with me today.They have been fortunate enough to find loving partners who are now part of our extended family together with my 12 beautiful grandchildren.

It is a great pleasure to welcome Killian into our family. He finds us a bit overwhelming at times.  It was the same for Willo, Paul, Katy, Aoife, Jonny, Rukshana and Gayatri and they have all survived so he should take heart.

My eldest daughter, Sarah, reminded me recently that on her wedding day 20 years ago I got up to speak and I couldn’t do it. I was overcome.

Today, twenty years later, I am loving this.  I have five minutes where everyone is listening to me.  Usually at family gatherings I never get a word in but now I have your undivided attention and I am very grateful.

But this occasion is not about me in my beautiful new dress from Arnotts and my wonderful fascinator from Brown Thomas all purchased at great expense ……………

No, no it is about the two people closest to me.  I say closest to me because for the past 18 months Katie, Killian and I have lived in the very confined space of a two bed apartment on the quays and you can’t get much closer than that.

How can I describe my flatmates.  They are a truly amazing couple, if a little quirky and unconventional, and sometimes I don’t understand them.

When Katie brought home curtaining material from Hickeys and said it was for her wedding dress, the scene where Julie Andrews pulls the curtains from the window to make dresses for the children flashed before my eyes.  I never liked that Sound of Music.  There are no hills alive here – this is Dublin, I thought.

But look, I needn’t have worried, it worked and she looks beautiful.  She might have just stepped out of a Doris Day movie.  What a star.

Katie even made Killian’s tie which as Genevieve will know is not an easy operation.

Katie and Killian lovingly collected the sand and the shells you see in the jam jars in front of you.  The apartment smelled like Sandymount Strand on a bad day for a while but after much boiling, washing and disinfecting they are now perfect and in each jar there are exactly 26 shells.

Most people might just go out and buy some balloons for decoration but no Killian and Katie made all the wonderful bunting you see above you.  He cutting out the triangles and she madly sewing while I sat between them nearly suffocated with the bits of thread and material floating across the room and up my nose.

And you know what’s really weird. They like me living with them.

They just refuse to let me go.  As Killian says just as long as “I don’t put my oar in” too often, I might be with them forever.  If only he would stop asking me for high fives I might just give in gracefully.

To be honest I find all the recycling, reusing and making do a bit wearing at times but it pays off.

When the cupboard is bare, Katie can produce a dinner out of nothing, Killian can make a bike out of unlikely bits of metal and together they are a living example on how to live economically and still get the best from life.

Underneath all their living without waste and other charming idiosyncrasies are two beautiful people, completely loyal to one another and sincerely and deeply in love.  Nothing else matters really.

Killian has introduced me to Michael Holmes, the Rock and Cashel. He has presented me to his brothers

and sisters, his grandmother Nancy and her wonderful family and we now have relations in Tipperary.  Real country cousins.

He also makes splendid coffee as we listen to Morning Ireland together. Thanks Killian.

Killian’s mother, Natalie, was very proud of Killian.  I could see that when she hugged him to her on the one occasion I was privileged to meet her.  Killian tells me she approved of Katie as a partner for him and I know she would be as delighted for them both as I am today.

I love Katie dearly.  She rubs my feet and cuts my toenails.  She cooks me strange and unfamiliar foods.  She sets me off into fits of giggles over nothing.

Katie will always be my darling little girl – the last gift to me from her father, Peter.

Killian and Katie are so lucky to have found one another and I have no doubt they will be making bunting together, forever.

Please raise your glasses to the bride and groom

Katie and Killian on the balcony of the Clarence Hotel, Dublin, 15 July 2010

Moving over

The sun keeps coming and going.  My nerves are gone.  You would think I was getting married.  Hair and make up lady is in there doing her thing.  The groom is putting the last touches to his speech.  I am still in my pyjamas.

This is the last child to get permanently entwined with another and maybe that is what this strange feeling is.  I am free.  Someone else is taking over responsibility.  With that comes sadness.  I have been at this mothering business for 45 years and moving on and over is not that easy.

Will she still want me, will she still care …………….