A Mother’s Grief – 7 years On.

a mothers grief

Today is my daughter’s 7th Birthday. She was born and died at 4.45am on the 19th March 2014. Today is Grace’s Birthday.

Grief is weird….and I mean that in the most basic terminology. Nobody will truly understand it or when to expect it. There is no rhyme nor reason with grieve – the only time I could truly understand it and meet it head on was at the very beginning of my journey.

Those raw, roaring, loud, deep, drowning first moments – first days – first weeks. Grief is almost tangible then, you can feel it in the room – you can feel that huge mass of black swirling around your entire body and taking your breath away.

As time goes by – the grief morphs and this is when it becomes an enigma. You cannot expect how it will affect you, it can creep up silently or knock you over when you least expect it. That huge mass of swirling black we felt at the beginning is alive but silent – like an active volcano, always activity under the service, we always feel the pain deep in the pit of our stomachs, but sometimes when we least expect it 7 years on, 17 years on it bubbles up to the service and makes itself visible once more. Once more you can almost reach out and touch it, you can wrap your arms around it as it takes you on its own journey you have no idea where you will end up.

The 18th of February to 19th March each year – we go on a journey. We walk into that sonographers room and we get the news of Grace’s condition, we make the journey to Dublin and have it confirmed. We make the decision to deliver her early in the UK, I relive those 4 weeks begging for help from someone. I relive that airport, the plane, the Paddy’s Day celebrations in Liverpool, pizza hut for our last meal as 3, having a coffee in Marks and Spencer to pass the time while we waited to be admitted. The colour of the ward in Liverpool Womens Hospital, the smell, the fear, the unknown, the pain, the waiting, the pain, then days later after one last push and my last duty as her mother, silence. The 19th of March Grace was here in our arms. We had 12 hours with her, took 10 photos and a live with a lifetime of pure love and pure pain.

This year, Grace’s 7th birthday is a hard one. Maybe its because I cannot get to the place we spend all her birthdays – the Beach – maybe its because of this bloody lock-down – who knows. This is a hard one. Time does not make things easier – it doesn’t become easier – you become an expert and learning to balance that black mass swirling inside you and everyday life. It is you, not time that make things more bearable – you do this with your strength. I do this with my strength. Sometimes though, on days like today – its okay to let go of that grip and just let it be – just allow yourself to ‘feel’, to sleep, to scream, to go to bed throw the covers over your head and leave everyone outside. If you can.

So today I write this piece in the hope it helps someone to understand – there is no right time to feel better, there is no right emotion to go through. We will have bad days and that’s okay, if you need to stop. Sit down and just be – and then once again we will have days when that black swirling mass is less heavy and you can carry it better… you laugh, you give out, you gossip, you work, you shop, you live your life and that, is living with grief.

Happy 7th Birthday to my darling baby Girl Grace xxxx

An Open Letter of Thanks to 1,429,981 of you.

May 27th 2018 I woke up in a hotel in Dublin puffy eyed and exhilarated. The day before was spent looking at a huge  screen in the Intercontinental Hotel function room watching results from all 26 counties pouring in. At approx. 3.30pm the final tally from my own County Mayo came through, 57.7% in favour of repeal. I was just so so proud of my home county, they listened, they educated themselves and they showed they no longer wanted to hold on to the cruel and archaic law that was hurting, killing and scarring it’s women.

For the 231st time that day I cried. My own repeal journey was brief compared to the stalwarts that has been fighting since 1983, before and after the 8th amendment was put in place and during the 90s, 00s and in recent years.  I had the great pleasure of sitting alongside one of these legends Ailbhe Smyth at my first Together for Yes meeting in Sligo.

I never for one second thought I would ever be a part of history changing, when I first wrote Grace’s Story in 2017 I did it because I was angry, I was sad and I wanted people to know that this was happening to the ordinary woman who lives in your town, who serves you your coffee, who teaches your children, who does your hair…the 8th Amendment was damaging women all over this country. I never thought I would travel the country reliving her story on TV, radio and at so many important gatherings. Meeting the most amazing people, listening to their stories, crying alongside with them, handshakes, heartfelt hugs and sharing a mutual passion to change healthcare for our women and our girls. But I somehow ended up doing all these things and I always compared the feeling of being so supported compared to the absolute isolation myself and Kieran felt boarding that Ryanair flight to Liverpool in March 2014. When I felt empty or exhausted I drew on that anger I still had (and will always have) and I kept telling Grace’s Story, I picked up that microphone and I told her story once again, each time I told her story I would remember a new part, a part I had buried away and it would break me all over again. But like my sisters in TFMR we had to keep telling our stories, digging deep down for the strength and courage to keep talking, keep travelling and keep educating people.

I first contacted TFMR in the 4 weeks I was waiting for an appointment in Liverpool to deliver Grace. They were and still are my main sources of support. I chatted to the girls and cried completely in the dark about what was going to happen us, from the little pieces of advice like bringing a blanket and teddy for Grace, to making sure I brought spare nightdresses because after you deliver your sleeping baby chances are you never want to see that nightdress again. I was just one woman they helped and supported from 2012 right up until today, thousands of phone calls, endless hours of supportive listening and caring embraces. I owe these women a gratitude, as does Ireland. From Arlette’s first interview with Ray Darcy to Claire addressing the Oireachtas Committee they helped shape the way people viewed what the 8th Amendment was actually doing to women and their families. I knew I had to do my part too, for the silent woman who could not speak out, I wanted to speak for her, feck it, I wanted to scream for her, LOUD!

My involvement didn’t happen by accident. Everyday Stories had been set up by Mary and Caoimhe and they were looking for personal stories of people affected by the 8th Amendment. I sent in that same blog post and Grace’s story and her little illustrated teddy travelled the country, people listened to my words through interactive stories. From this the amazing Yvonne and Amy-Rose from Together for Yes got in touch at the beginning of this year and the ball didn’t stop rolling until May 25th.

I had carried out some interviews previous to becoming involved in the campaign like the Irish Times , The Journal, Her.ie but I was safe behind the my words written by the journalist. I was asked to take part in some radio interviews, this was scary. Now it wasn’t just my words, it was my voice, my flat Mayo accent was going to be heard. My pain was going to be heard and my anger felt, there was going to be pauses where I would have to compose myself and swallow the huge sadness that was flowing down my face. My first Radio interview was with Philip Boucher-Hayes for RTE Radio 1 in March and it was the first time I watched someone’s reaction to my story. I went on the road with Together for Yes and told my story at launches and information meetings in Sligo, Roscommon, Westport and Athlone. Here is where I met some of the grassroots campaigners, the ones who had doors slammed in their faces, the ones who had been doing the donkey work in their rural towns and villages, the ones who won’t be named as heroes of the repeal movement on a public platform because they chose to stay in the background and keep plugging away… these are my repeal heroes.

The ones who helped people realise Roscommon was not the conservative county it was made out to be, the ones who had doorstep conversations in my home town of Ballina, these are my heroes.

Like many campaigners our weekends were no longer spent with family but rather on the road, on our phones, campaigning and talking and I loved every second of it. The badges, the messages, the interviews, the discussions, the tears, the anger, the frustration, the debates, the flyers, the posters, the green, the pink, the country crawling from the doldrums of old Ireland and having a discussion they would have shut down 10 years before.

I felt the country change just as much as I felt the seasons change from spring to summer, yes, there were days when I thought fuck sake this may be lost, but with the support of my repealing family I got back on track.

I remember sitting in the back of a taxi on a warm Friday evening heading into the RTE TV studios and my stomach wanted to literally jump out of my body. Sitting in the green room with so many amazing amazing people, Jenni, Mark, Gerry, Siobhan and her mum it was surreal. I remember walking down the corridor with Mary from the other side to get our mics on thinking please let me get through this without breaking down. Sitting in my seat and watching Dr. Peter Boylan face off the other side with dignity and experience almost took my nerves away, almost. When the cameras stopped rolling I was so grateful I got through the interview!!

I often laugh as having a film crew turn up on my drive was becoming normal during those last few weeks! BBC and CNN were the last two to arrive to my semi-detached house in Mayo. I knew time was running out, the 25th was fast approaching if there was ANYTHING more I could do did it and that wasn’t just me, that was thousands of the repeal army, the pot was at boiling there was nothing more to do on the night of the 24th of May but turn down the heat and allow for a slow simmer until voting commenced.

We all know what happened that weekend, it will be forever etched on our memory. The faces of those people in Dublin Castle, the counters from both sides deep in concentration at the polling stations around Ireland,

TFMR quietly huddled in a corner of the function room sobbing collectively with pure relief, utter sadness and all the while carrying a lingering anger.

These are my memories of what was a crazy 6 months. I can only imagine what its like for those campaigning since 1983. It’s also a thank you, to every single one of you, who knocked on a door, took a leaflet, listened, had a conversation with a spouse, colleague or parent, stood in the lashings of rain at a stall, told their story publicly or to me privately, took absolute abuse from people, hung up a poster, wore a badge but especially to each and every one of you 1,429,981 who voted to stop punishing tragedy, to stop hurting women, to stop allowing women to die silently, to give women and girls choice, no matter WHY their decision. CHOICE. So to you from this ordinary mum of 5 from Mayo, thank you, to you from that lonely woman who boarded a flight to Liverpool almost 5 years ago scared, lonely and angry, thank you.

From my two daughters, a tiny one who was unable to meet her family due to the 8th amendment and the other who won’t have it affect her what-so-ever, thank you.

Our trip to Kilkee

kids on the cliff

For our Family Holiday this year we decided to head to the seaside in Ireland. I wanted somewhere like Enniscrone but further away than 8 miles!! So we narrowed it down to Kilkee in Co. Clare. Hotels are a no no anymore for us, from researching hotel rooms we need two or a connecting family room and they can be around €500 for 2/3 nights!

Where we stayed

We played around with booking mobile homes but yet again the size of the mobiles were an issue and there wasn’t many available to rent on site. Air Bnb was next on the list, this was my first time booking with Air Bnb so I was a little nervous about what the place would be like. We booked this house in Kilkee and I couldn’t rate it enough! For 3 nights it cost us €260. The location is smack bang in the centre of the town up a little cul de sac so super quiet, the house itself was only 6 months old and immaculate! The host Kathleen left some fab little buns and tea and coffee. There was 3 double bedrooms, 2 flights of stairs (they supplied stair gates!), downstairs toilet, bathroom upstairs and an en-suite in 3rd floor bedroom. There is all the mod cons you expect with a house rental.

airbnbhouseairbnbkilkee airbnbkilkee


Whats to do?

The Beach was literally less than 4 minutes walk from the house, and its a gorgeous little beach ( I say little because I live beside Enniscrone and that’s 5km long). Its a Very safe enclosed horse-shoe shaped beach. We were there the week before school broke up for Summer so it was quite quiet but I can only imagine how packed it can get on a hot day in Summer. There are cliff walks past the beach and the views are stunning! All along there was pools and diving boards some very brave people jump from! The cliff walk is lovely but be warned bring a buggy if you decide to do the whole walk for the little ones…and the big ones!! The views are something else to be honest. Kieran and the boys ventured down to the rock pools while myself, Chloe and Callum relaxed in the Diamond Rocks Cafe. We only had drinks and cupcakes but the menu and food looks amazing in there. There is loads of seating outside and inside with massive windows so you don’t miss a thing! There is a Water World right off the beach but it wasn’t opened while we were there, midweek off peak. The village itself is choc full of restaurants, bars and little nick nack shops! I even spotted a nightclub! We spent the day on the beach for our first full day and the second day was lashing rain so we got in the car and explored. We had planned on going to the Cliffs of Moher but a local patron told us to head to the Loop Head instead as the journey wouldn’t be as long and there would be no queues. He was right. We drove along the Loop Head Drive and it brought us along so many treasures! You can go on a Dolphin Tour, Visit Loop Head Lighthouse and stop along some really gorgeous villages along with way. We stopped by the lighthouse and I made it up four steps before my phobia of steps kicked in!!! On a good day you can see Kerry apparently from the top of the lighthouse (I took their word for it!). We walked around the museum and learned about the history of museums. The most fascinating part of that trip was the giant sign EIRE made out of rocks during the second world war so German bombers knew we weren’t goo old blighty!! I am a history nerd so standing there and seeing it was fascinating, standing on the cliff edge was cool too!!

There are loads of things to do around that area if you have more time to spend, you can do a Fr. Ted tour, visit the Burren, get a ferry across the Shannon estuary to Kerry, Limerick is a stones throw away! We were tied for time so we stayed local to Kilkee.

kilkee family holiday

Where to Eat

Okay so the fabulous Adelle over at Dodees to Daiquiris (a Kilkee expert!) had me warned that Kilkee is expensive to eat in and she was not wrong. On the first day we went into Kilrush to Tesco to stock up on cereals, breakfast food, bread and the essentials we needed. We thought if we had breakfast and lunch in the house and just went for dinner we would cut food costs (its expensive feeding six people in a restaurant!). The first night we went to Myles Creek for dinner, it is a large old style pub and the menu looked good, the usual stuff for kids. The food itself was nice enough but the bill was 96 quid!! Crazy expensive in my opinion. We only had a main each and myself and Kieran had one drink each from the bar. It was lovely but not nice enough to pay nearly one hundred euro for burgers and chips. I mentioned the Diamond Rocks above and although it looked gorgeous I only had drinks, but first impressions were good. The second night we went to Naughton’s Steak and Seafood we sat outside as it was a glorious evening. I judge most places by their kids menu, if they have put effort into it nine times out of ten it’ll be good. Naughtons did not fail us, the kids menu was full of fish, pastas and small portions of the adults menu. Kieran, Chloe and Cian got the fresh fish and it looked amazing. Jamie and I got huge fresh burgers and Callum got plain pasta with a delicious garlic bread, we had a couple of drinks from the bar and it came to under €70! Much better and the owner was so helpful telling us where to visit etc. The last night we had decided to go to the local Chipper Nolans, it was always packed and it was cheap, the chips were delicious and dad’s wallet wasn’t hit as hard!!

There is a pizza place on the main street (by the way all these restaurants were literally 30 seconds walk from each other and our house! and it has 12″ pizzas for €10! Perfect to feed some hungry kiddies after a day in the ocean!

There is a good few pubs scattered along the main street and they all have outside seating. There is a small supermarket and there seems to be an amusement arcade but I don’t think it opened during the week off peak anyway!

So that’s it, my review of our little holiday! After the crazy first half of the year travelling all over the country campaigning for the Repeal of the 8th Amendment our energy and finances were struggling so this little stay-cation was perfect!

There is still a few weeks left in the summer holidays! Why not get away for a couple of nights before the uniforms, lunches and early mornings (boo!!) to Kilkee!

Tracey xx




Being a 90’s Girl

how to be a 90s girl

So I may be a bit nostalgic of late, I was recently at a 90’s reunion of a nightclub I basically lived in from 1999-2001 and its got me thinking of the golden era where boy bands, Soother necklaces and the original Adidas pull-aways ruled.

The Shift

Okay so when your mam eventually let you go to your first disco, you psyched yourself up for the big night and you prayed to all your Christian Slater posters that you may at long last “get the shift”. You were nervous, but ready. You can not be the last one in the group not to have shifted anyone, no way! You have gotten tips from the 2 experienced girls in the group, there was nothing more to do then just wait. Continue reading

Barry the Bug. 

You know how it is during school holidays you enjoy the freedom of no lunches, no uniforms, no homework, no manic rush out the door in the morning, etc. Etc.

One thing I forgot to enjoy or rather didn’t appreciate enough, was the feeling of a house full of well, virus free, bug free kids that had pallors that’s didn’t resemble whitewalkers.

They’ve been back at school exactly 15 days and the second week back they were out sick with persistent coughing, sore throats which brought on their asthma. They were good about it though they fell sick in turns… Jamie was the first half to cian the second.

Third week in… All back to normal… Then the itching started… No… No… No… Not fekin lice AGAIN!!! I checked them…okay I’m lying Kieran checked them throughout the summer… Back to school the weekly checks kept going. So how 3 weeks in have they gotten nits?? Might I add…

 They got them THREE TIMES in senior Infants… THREE!!!

Continue reading

Another Milestone 

mum and daughter, 2 girls, love yourself

One day your staring blankly at a plastic stick with a little pink line wondering how the f**k your gonna cope with a baby at 19.

The next your wondering if those niggles you’re getting in your huge belly are the result of the burger you inhaled at 1am the night before or real life big girl pants Contractions.

You then wonder if it’s normal for this tiny little thing to produce green poo…the book never mentioned it being green! You better not ask because your a kid yourself and they think your gonna fail anyway.

Mum and baby, young mum, smiling, baby
You look at her chocolate covered face at her 1st birthday and wonder what the hell you stressed for. She’s perfect, happy, healthy even if she is as bald as an egg!
Everything is laid out shiny shoes, crisp white socks, itchy grey jumper… All at the bottom of her big bed awaiting her first day in school. Her bald head produced a head full of curls… Worth waiting for 2 years for 😂 Continue reading

Love Yourself 

mum and daughter, 2 girls, love yourself

I won tickets to the Love Yourself event the Lough Rea Hotel and Spa were holding at the weekend. I brought the 15 year old with me to catch up on some very rare mum daughter bonding, gorge on posh little sandwiches and tiny deserts!

We headed up the road, I was slightly fragile thanks to myself and hubbies date night the night before which was supposed to end a lot earlier than it did. Who knew 2 sleep deprived 30 odd year olds could knock back that much vodka in 2 hours??!

*Always drink sensibly kids…weeeell at least until you HAVE kids that is😂*

Continue reading

10 Things that make Life Happier

mum, kids, mum and kids, boys, woman

These are a few of my favourite things

Thanks to the fabulous Ladynicci for tagging me in her post 10 Little Things. Its really got me thinking about things that have been making my life easier or happier or just a welcome addition! I thought I may be stuck and not make the 10 but everywhere I look I am spotting things that make me nod and go, “Yes, my everyday life is definitely better since I brought this into it”. There is a mix of everything in here.. Continue reading

8 years married today…

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31st July 2009

I was probably taking to the floor for our first dance this time 8 years ago. We shuffled along to Etta James’s “At Last”. I say shuffle because moving left to right was about as much of a waltz as I was going to get out of my husband! Some people have two left feet, my hubby dances like he has concrete shoes on!

Anyway 8 years…quite a long time. Something to celebrate you might think… maybe. Yes my wedding day was an amazing day but not just because I was marrying himself. We never needed a ceremony to prove anything between us, we knew from day one how strong we were as a couple and the ivory dress, vows and speeches were fantastic but they didn’t make us any stronger or more solid. It was life and its ups and downs that strengthened our relationship.

It was a natural progression to get married, it was the next expected step. Well to be fair, we did do it arse-ways, we had the baby at 19, mortgage at 25 and married at 27, but for us it was the natural next step! Continue reading