Monthly Archives: January 2015

Six Years

I’m six years a mother. Don’t worry, the six year old is catered for by way of a cake, party, present but this is my moment. Stand back. Six years seems so paltry a figure for describing such an event. A small step for womankind but one immeasurable step for me. Drumroll please.

I have been changing nappies for six years. Since 15:15 on the 2nd of February, 2009, I have been feeding, kissing, changing the nappy of one boy or another. If this was a TV audience, there would be a grumpy looking man with a queue card saying ‘Applause.’ Instead, I’m holding the queue cards and I’m telling you what to do. Applause. Louder. Call that a round of applause. Six years people, three boys, feeding, wiping poos, minding, loving, adoring, worrying over, playing with, pampering to, reading stories to, nursing better, don’t-ing, cajoling. And what’s that you mumble from the back? I chose it? Oh yes, I did. But by God, I’ve earned it. Uproarious applause please.

Now for the sentimental bit. I love them all but the first one was a pretty good template. Despite being my first, and therefore the guinea pig, he has withstood my awful singing, woeful nappy changing attempts with and flashes of ridiculous looking silly temper. He is and will always be the first one to snuggle under my arm first thing in the morning. His smile makes me weep sometimes. He is beautiful. From 7lb and 10oz of tiny goodness, he has set up shop in my heart and grown into the most handsome little gentleman any mommy will ever have. That woman in the front is raising a hand. Don’t want to know about your Grandson Mrs, have her removed!

If motherhood is a test, then I’m the student with the writing up her sleeve and the ‘please God’ look on her face in the exam hall. Yes, I’m six years a mother and it’s been worth the slog. What’s that? A standing ovation. Oh you.

Happy almost Birthday, my boy Philip



There’s more, I’ve written for Irish Country Living this week….


The Rock of Common Sense

If anyone is to be put on a pedestal in Kerry, it’s the Rock of Common Sense. You’ll know them, they’re the face of austerity, sincerity and practicality in the community. By God, they don’t put a foot wrong, never eat a biscuit in between meals, burp aloud or say skittish things like ‘What a beautiful day.’ No indeed, a beautiful day is for painting a fence. The Rock holds his or her cards close to their chest.

Every now and again, I resolve to be more Rock like, less skittish and ‘Corkonian’, more stoic, guarded, practical, wise and thinking. To this end, I even developed a tone; one that scares the farmer. ‘Mind you’, I might start a sentence with. For good measure, there are ‘clearly’s’ ‘nonsense’ ‘that’s ridiculous’ and ‘incredibles’ rolling from the tongue. It’s hard to keep going though, there’s a lot of weather watching to make sure the washing comes promptly in from the line, lawns to maintain, funerals to attend. In truth, it’s exhausting.

Besides, ‘Rock watching’ happens to be a favourite pastime of mine. Who doesn’t secretly enjoy seeing the Rock of Common Sense trip over a lace or indeed get your name wrong. We are human after all. Fallible, real. And whatsmore, great fun. I want to love you Rock but you’re going to have to make a mistake to be my friend. Or at the very least, show me that you too, forget what day of the week it is and curse in private at the smartphone you may have just flushed down the toilet.

Sometimes, you have to live in a place for a while before people let their guard down and then you’ll see the glint that says, I too, have made a mess. Got it so wrong. Lived. And they work their way into your favor, become one of the characters in the narrative that is your everyday life in a small village in rural Ireland. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you come to really know that person and come to count them as a friend. Incredible.


Brace yourself, it’s January. After the tinsel and mince-pie haven of Christmas comes decoration-less January. I defy anyone (mostly myself) to make January look good. But try we must. There is a red alert on, a storm howling down my chimney making the living most uneasy. Memories of last year’s worst storm that took 160 slates from the roof and left my little toddler with a memory of scary storm are in mind. Today, there’s no school. The county is closed for business. And I arose early to fix the place up for the day ahead. It takes planning to get through a day as such. Pre-empting krankiness, what to eat, who sleeps when, what to do with little boys who just want out. Indeed, what to do with their mommy who just wants out. Out into the world, ney, even the village. Away from the same day, in and out. For the chance meeting of a neighbour, a friend, a flower.

Package it as you might, January is difficult. But in that howling wind, we have to listen for a while to hear what it is teaching us. For there is a lesson, there’s always a lesson. What is this seasonal teacher pointing out? Shhhh, the ground is sleeping. The farmer needs rest. There’s a busy spring ahead. The bones are tired. The cows are heavy with calf and need shelter and feeding indoors whilst the ground sleeps.

Indoors, line up distractions; activities, movies, soup, good music and phones calls. As it turns out, city or country, we’re all in this January together. So brace yourself and do as the storm says. Rest.

The Hot Press*

At some point in their future, I will present a copy of this blog to my children, perhaps when they are about to have my grandchildren. Ahem, no pressure. They may at that point believe on reading it that I spent their infancy trying to avoid them. Not true. I spend their infancy trying to hide the fact that I was trying to avoid them. That brings me to a little ditty about a trip to my local book shop last November.

I’m a reader. An avid one. Most of my life I’ve escaped to a book to avoid study, teenage arguments, heartbreak and now children. No better place than in the care of a good writer. With that, I find good purveyors of books like a good waiter instinctively knowing what you’d like to sample from the menu. A good bookseller is one who can recommend exactly what you need in a book at a given time. Pure alchemy. I’ve found a good bookseller locally, a lovely lady in Listowel (Brenda of Woulfes Bookshop if you need a name). I was caught for time, as usual one day, and I must say looking the part, that is dishevelled, and rushed into the same shop. I need a book I say, post haste (I might not have put it in those exact words but it sounds good right?), something upbeat I say, easy, a city landscape, not necessarily romantic. The poor woman who had just opened her doors and used to a more elegant and considered customer I’m sure, leads me as always to just the right book.

Trying my hardest to remember my pin, she tells me the following; ‘You know I knew a farmer’s wife once that had a fine big farmhouse and a pile of children who used to hide in the hotpress.’ Finger on the nose, a nod and a smile. Understood. And whatsmore she added, ‘you’ll have time to read a chapter with a cup of coffee across the road’. See, a good bookseller, solid gold.

Have I used the hot press? Oh yes I have. Why just today when the crazy gang were simply crazy, I took myself off to finish a chapter with a coffee. It’s cosy in there, not the tidiest but warm and dry. The trick though is to make sure you’re not found out. In and about the third roar of ‘Mom’, they’ll start looking for you, you can time the little footsteps, exiting your oasis in time to cover the batcave up again. Finger on the nose, a nod and a smile. You heard it hear first. Shhhhhhh.

P.S Je suis absolument Charlie…

*Warm, dry storage cupboard you’ll find in an Irish home, quite cosy.

Mi Nollaig na mban

No better night to think on life as the solitary female in our household as tonight on this Oiche Nollaig na mban or Women’s Little Christmas. All over the country, ladies, after a Christmas of catering, running around, wrapping, breaking up fights and pouring drinks are getting a well deserved break. Here, I’m just not that organised. Instead I’m typing alongside the youngest man in my life, my seven month old as he settles himself to sleep in a new cot.

Here’s a new concept for you though, especially poignant for ladies of the farming community. Mi Nollaig na mban. Month of Women’s Christmas, also known as January. Apparently, our calves are late calvers by some standards but by my standards, February 1st is enough time to be welcoming the first of our new calves to the farm. And so, farming wise, things are quiet enough. Time for some much needed loveliness for the woman of the house. Sigh, these boys are busy. Noisy. Hungry. Dirty more often than not. I grew up amongst women and didn’t really understand what a little boy was until, well, to be honest, I’m still learning. Every now and again I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, you’re turning into one of them, go brush your hair! More often than not, I’m shouting to be heard and I find myself constantly cooking or baking. And they’re babies really. What’s to come?

So, onto loveliness. January has become the month when Daddy steps in to put the boys to bed and I get a chance to at least wash my face. January comes, as you know, before our Spring, a time when I become a lone parent, whilst the farmer is practically living on the farm. So, during this, my ‘month off’ I make plans, I visit a dentist (a luxury these days), a hairdresser, have a facial, go to the sales. Moreover, I get the chance to remind myself that I am deep down, a bit girly, one who likes the feminine, clothes, red lipstick and shoes that are far too expensive and coincidentally, not wellies. Time to myself.

So they’re asleep now, on this Oiche Nollaig na mban, three sets of blue eyes closed for the night and so, rest ensues.  Back to planning my month of some loveliness. But, blink, one pair of blue eyes open again. Say it ain’t so. Hold that lovely thought.


2015. As is turns out, looking at a calendar is not such an intimidating thing. The problem is where to put it all. Projects, wishlists, milestones, events, all scurrying for their place in the days and months ahead. Not such a bad thing.

There should be more laughing I think, less worrying. More counting of blessings of which there are many. There are five people to plan for now, co-ordinating our lives around a common goal; to thrive. Sounds like a plan to me. And if one day, we fail to thrive, we start from scratch the next day, on the next page of the calendar as it were. That’s how it works in the grand scheme of things. One day at a time. That’s all we’ve got. Today. And then it seems, all the todays come together in that grand plan and it just goes. Plan to thrive.

Happy 365 todays.