Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I popped into Harry Corry's to see my niece Lauren. While I was there I saw a lovely white wooden unit that would be perfect for under my bathroom sink.
"I'll have one of those", I said to Lauren
She works there, so I wasn't shop lifting!
She looked at it for a moment and then said
"It comes flat packed , but you could get Finian to put it together for you!"

Well of course that was an immediate challenge for me.
"I'll be able to do it myself!" I announced, unconvincingly!

I got the pack home and set to work.

I set everything out in order.

"Now give me those instructions. How hard can it be!"

Holy mother of God! There was no writing on the sheet and the letters corresponding to the correct screws was tiny, nay minuscule!

Not one to be outdone I set to work. Some of it took a bit of working out/guessing as to where what went. I only had one little mishap and then...

One fully functioning bathroom unit. I was very proud of myself.

Next stop, flat packed wardrobe!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Always the bridesmaid........

The summer of 1996 was glorious! It sticks in my memory because it was a scorcher and also because of the wedding of my bestest friend Genevieve to Vincent.
As I was her chief bridesmaid, the months of June and July were a frenzy of diet plans and exercise. It paid off as when our second last fitting for our fabulous frocks came around, mine had to be taken in! Happy days.

The sun shone brightly on the day and we all looked AMAZING, even if I do say so myself!

And that was the first and last time that I wore that dress. Once the wedding was over, I went back to my old habits. The weight went back up and the dress wouldn't go over my hips.

The dress was assigned to my "skinny" wardrobe in the spare room. Every year I cull my clothes. If I haven't worn an item in the past 12 months then it gets given away.....unless it is of deep sentimental value, which this dress is. So once a year it gets taken out of its protective covering, I look at it and sigh for my lost youth and then promptly put it back.

Last weekend I delved into the skinny wardrobe for something else. I saw the dress and thought
"Will I risk it?"

I was very unsure because I am sooooooo happy with my body as it is now, I didn't want to be disappointed by it still not fitting me. After all who was I kidding. It's been 20 years since I wore it and even then I was the slimmest I had ever been.

"Feck it. I'll risk it!"

So out it came out of the wrapper and I stepped into it. I got it up as far as my hips.
Wiggle wiggle, up it went!
Next challenge....the zipper.
Swoosh, up it went!

Okay, so I'm being shallow. But this is the ultimate proof of how far I've come since the start of Operation Transformation. And what's more, its not a result of starving myself for a few weeks in order to fit into it. Its been a slower but much healthier way and I know I'll still fit into it in the future.
Not that I'm ever going to wear it again, but its nice to know I could!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Modern Family

Children nowadays have so much more to contend with than I had as a child And yet it never ceases to amaze me how resilient they are. No matter how complicated us as adults think a situation is, they see through all the bullshit and focus on what is really important.

 I overheard this conversation between two nine year old boys.
"How many brothers and sisters do you have?" asked John.
David gave a wry smile.
"It's a bit complicated. I used to have two sisters and a brother. Now I have two brothers and a sister."

I stopped in mid correction and pricked up my ears.
I hadn't heard of any change in the family circumstances....new baby, a sibling arriving out of nowhere like they do in Soapland.

John looked as puzzled as I felt and asked
"What do you mean? How did that happen?"
"Well my sister Joan is now my brother Peter."

John was speechless. David went on to explain that his sister wanted to be a boy and now dressed and acted as one. He got a little upset as he sometimes forgot and called him his sister and Peter got annoyed with him.
John mulled this over for a moment and announced
"Sure if she wants to be a boy and she's happier that way, then you should go along with it."

I was completely overwhelmed by the maturity of his reasoning and wondered why so many adults couldn't be that sensitive and open minded.

Then the true implications of this situation struck John, an avid GAA player.

"Miss! Would he play on the Hurling or the Camogie team?"

And that is the main concern in a nine year old's world......as it should be.

Monday, May 9, 2016

See ya later.......

We were doing a vocabulary quiz in class that involved me giving a clue and the kids working out the word I was thinking of.
"Louise and her mother were shopping in Liffey Valley. They wanted to go to the second floor and they took the moving stairs. What is the name of this?"

The boy whose turn it was thought long and hard. Then a big smile broke out on his face with sudden realisation.

"I know! It's an...ALLIGATOR!"

"Going up?"

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The true power of sport

Two events happened recently that made me re-evaluate the importance of sport in our lives.
I made the trip to Monagea  Co.Limerick  to take part in a 10k walk.  Anyone who watched Operation Transformation couldn’t help but be both moved and inspired by Clare O’Donovan’s heart breaking story. On December 12th 2011 she went up to her son Darra’s bedroom to call him for school. What awaited her was something that no parent should ever have to face. Darra had died in his sleep of Sudden Adult Death syndrome. He was just 15 years old. He was an all-rounder at sport. He excelled at hurling and football and reached county level in both sports. In Clare’s own words
 “His smile could melt your heart”.

At times like this people feel at a loss as to what to say, but then again, actions speak louder than words. The local community of Monagea came together to organise an event in memory of Darra O’Donovan and Niamh Herlihy, a young 20 year old from the area who had also died of SAD just four months before Darra. Every May Bank holiday weekend they hold a 10km walk/run as well as a 125km endurance cycle in aid of C.R.Y (Cardiac Risk in the Young).
When I arrived the local hall was thronged with people registering for the walk/run. 300 cyclists had already departed at 9 am. There was a legion of women pouring tea and coffee while the tables were straining under the weight of sandwiches and homemade cakes and buns. Little did I ever think that I would be involved in warming up a crowd of people for a run, but I found myself on a trailer with my partners in crime Lucy and Clare, doing Jumping Jacks.
 When Clare stood in front of the crowd to give her thank you speech, there wasn’t a dry eye in the parish. She was so appreciative of the support that her family had received but I’m sure she wished to be there for any other reason.

Last October my own family was touched by this grief when my cousin Jannette’s son Adam Mangan was killed in a tragic farming accident in Offaly. He had certainly packed a lot of living into his short nineteen years of life. Much has been said of his sporting ability. He played for the Offaly minor football teams in 2013 and 2014, Tullamore rugby club and also represented Leinster and Ireland. 
I can still hear Jannette proudly tell us

"My son is playing rugby for Ireland".

Adam’s GAA club St. Vincent's claimed their third successive victory over Edenderry recently and Jannette and her family were on hand to take part in the celebrations. Another of her sons, Cathal was on the winning team.

For both families it must have been an extremely difficult day. They would have given anything to have had their sons with them. But the support and love that they received from their communities helped to dull their pain, if only a little bit.

And that I think is the real prize of belonging to a sporting community, far richer than world records and gold medals.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Saturday morning, Bank holiday weekend, saw me up at 6.45 am.
What's that all about, I hear you ask!!!
Well, I was heading down to Monagea, Co. Limerick to take part in a 10k walk/run.
As I didn't get to train properly for the past two weeks, I was banking on more walking than running.
Anyone who watched Operation Transformation couldn't help but be moved and inspired by Clare's story. Her 15 year old son Darra went to bed one normal night, but died of Sudden Adult Death while in his sleep. Clare's honesty in sharing her story with the nation was both hearth breaking and inspiring in equal measure.
The local community of Monagea hold an annual walk/run/cycle event every May bank holiday weekend in order to raise much needed funds for C.R.Y Cardiac Risk in the Young, and also to raise awareness of this condition.
And that was why I typed Monagea into my Sat Nav and set off!

2hrs and 40 mins later I knew I was nearing my destination as the road was dotted with
Road Race taking place today.
I was very chuffed with myself as anyone who knows me, knows that I have zero sense of direction.
As I was approaching civilisation, lady in Sat Nav announced
In 100 metres turn left.
"Wha? I said to myself "That doesn't seem right".
But being the obedient type I turned left. I went down a little bóithrín for about half a mile when  Ms.Sat Nav proudly announced
"You have reached your destination!"
As I looked around at high hedges, open fields and two sheep, I replied.
"I have in me a*&@"

After maneuvering a 72 point turn as there was no space, I headed back the way I came, asked the first person I met and was soon entering Monagea. The atmosphere was electric. It is at times like this that you appreciate the support of small local communities with big hearts. You had to beat your way into the local hall to register, always a good sign.

It was fabulous to meet up with some of my OT family, Clare, Lucy and Dave, fire officer.
I must admit I get a little shiver of fear when I see him as I immediately think I must be doing something wrong and look around me for a fire hose to roll up!!!

One of the most surreal moments was being up on the trailer with the girls, leading the warm up. ME!!! Doing a warm up.Who'd have thought???

I'd say Karl Henry is quaking in his boots as he fears I will take over his title of Ireland's most famous fitness guru!

And off we set. Due to a couple of reasons I haven't been training for the past two weeks, so I walked/ran as best I could. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't have ran more, but on the plus side I got a great look into everyones house and garden as I passed by and got loads of ideas!!!
Everyone made in back in one piece, just in time for more tea and sandwiches.
They must have gone through a mountain of sliced pans.

Later in the evening I headed over to Clare and Tom's house. It was so strange walking into their kitchen. I'd never been there before but I felt as if I had because I was so used to seeing it on the TV. I could nearly have gone straight to the right press to get the cups out!
I had to get my photo taken with these mini celebrities.

Then off to the local pub for a bit of socialising! It was a very small pub, not much bigger than my kitchen, but somehow they managed to fit in the whole parish!
Had a fabulous night. They even managed to coax me into singing a verse of The Westmeath Bachelor! 
I'm looking forward to next year already, when I will
a) run the whole thing
b) know the second verse of The Westmeath Bachelor.

I am so proud and privileged to be friends with this amazing woman, an inspiration to us all.