Mam-8th Anniversary

Earlier than normal, I said I’d put pen to paper to mark Mam’s anniversary. In 3 months time it will be 8 years since Mam passed away. I have often spoken of Mam’s selfless act which saw her donate her organs. This act meant a number of people were able to restart their lives and live life to best of their abilities.

I have of course almost completed one year living in the “real world” and out on my own, I haven’t poisoned myself or any of the few callers I have had to the house. The housewarming is still in the planning stage haha…. Mam would be very pleased with this particular fact. It was a stated aim of hers to see me out “on my own”. Thankfully this has now been achieved and I am well settled into living on my own….

The peace of mind that has come along with living on my own has been fantastic, no one to battle for the remote or in terms of food etc… It has been uplifting and has helped my head no end. No more headaches, stress or anger.

I have mentioned a few times, how a set of keys has driven me to new heights and I can now look everyone in the eye and not have that sheepish look when asked where I am or what I am at… Amazing how all the questions that had come before my move came nearly on a daily basis but with my own keys and move all that has ended. Also I won’t entertain any silly questions anymore and will just walk away now.

That backbone is alive and well and I just get on with things now and I don’t sweat things anymore. Back to Mother, I now she would be thrilled with how things are now and I am sure she would be here on a daily basis doing spot checks. So much has changed in the past 8 years, her anniversary is getting easier with each passing year.

It is also hard to think or believe it is 8 years since the evening as I put it “the shit hit the fan”. My father has the house to himself and that is a big positive for all of us as a family. We can now live the separate lives you hope you can as father and son and not want to “kill each other”.

The only sour note is Mam didn’t see me out on my own in her life time but she would be pleased to know it happened, 7 years later but before I turned 40, Rory had permission to shoot me had I still been at home at that stage.

Exam Time 2024

It is exam time again in Ireland with many sitting down today week for both the Junior and Leaving Certificate. I sat my junior cert in 2007 and my leaving in 2009. 15 years on I am still on the road after many challenges but I still achieved what I set out to do in life and continue to do so as I sit here and type.

In my time in secondary school, the leaving cert was the be all and end all but thankfully things have changed and people will be able to avail of different routes to help succeed in life. Give the exams your very best of course but don’t think that results over the next few weeks will define who you are and what you’ll do in life because I can testify, there are many ways to achieve your goals in life…

My time in secondary school was enjoyable and now that I have time reflect on my 5 years as transition year wasn’t available but is now back on the table and if used wisely could help you taste what the “real world” is like. My attitude was “get in and get out” and do my small bit but don’t over stretch myself, a lesson I have continued into adult hood !!!  ( don’t take this too literally or I will have angry parents after my blood)

Everyone is different and school doesn’t suit everyone but the one thing the teachers will do is try there hardest to guide you in the right direction and then of course it is up to each individual to take their chosen path in life.

I probably broke the hearts of many of the teachers by my lack of attention to detail in certain aspects of my school days in the Comp but I still have a strong relationship with them all these years later.

They aren’t there to steer you wrong and will do all they can but it is up to you to drive yourself on. One thing they got spot on is, enjoy those days because when you leave the Comp at the end of your final exam life will take many turns for you all so enjoy the next couple of weeks as well as studying for the exams beginning of course next Wednesday.

Do your best and you’ll get what you deserve next August when the results come out but as I mention don’t stress out too much. Listen to any advice your parents or teachers give you because they know you better than I do…

I wish the Class of 2024 across the country all the very best for the junior and leaving cert exams….

Nicoleta Choirean – Local Election Candidate Carlow Area

Nicoleta Choirean is a local election candidate for the Carlow Electoral area and will this year run on the Sinn Fein ticket for a seat on Carlow County Council. Nicoleta has lived in Ireland for the last 24 years and has been heavily involved in several local community groups and activism over that time.

She has a background in herbal medicine and naturopathic medicine and has her own private practice. Having worked in her local area in various roles and then going to the European Parliament in Brussels and participating in varying summits on health, business and education.

Nicoleta now hopes that you’ll give her your number 1 when you go to the polls for the local and european elections taking place on Friday June 7th.

Letter From My Past

Hi All ,

I am putting this letter together for some of my close friends as I haven’t been very honest with people. I am a very good actor and have covered up my true feelings about different issues over the last few years.

I have been struggling with my emotions on a number of levels in the last number of years that have resulted in three Suicide attempts since I left school in 2009. I know that suicide isn’t the answer but at each point I decided that suicide was the answer to my troubles I always found a way to talk myself out of it each time.

I won’t go into a number of the major issues that have troubled me, A lack of motivation and laziness have been big problems for me. I have also got to realise I am not the only person on this planet with problems and I have touch wood still got my health.

I have also realised that I can only really trust a small number of people. Everybody that contacted me in 2014 and told me to get in touch if I needed help , I really do appreciate the offers of support but I now know you have your own lives to get on with and don’t need me to add to your problems.

I give an impression that all’s well with me and nothing ever troubles me, but let’s face it if that was true I wouldn’t be human. Other people might tell me go away and get help and please stop writing about every problem you have.

I hope to leave home in the next few months and that might help me sort through all the problems I have. In the last few years I have learned to cope and hide my true feelings. I know I wrote a letter a few months ago telling everyone that all was well. I spend my day trying to make others laugh and can evade most questions with short answers.

In particular, I owe certain people so much for all the help and support you have given me in recent times. From the bottom of my heart , Thank You….. I wrote this a few years ago and just want to share it with people.

Cian Mc Gibney

Christmas and New Year 2024

It is heading for Christmas 2024 and New Year also. A time I am not a fan of but as I head towards 2024, Life has changed beyond anything I could have dreamed of at the end of 2022 or even the start of 2023.

Earlier this year, I thought about ending my life owing to the situation I found myself in at the end of last year and the start of 2023. But thankfully I had been working away on something that yielded results around April of this year but had I gone ahead with my thoughts back in February, the work I had put in would not have been for much.

Something clicked in my head the afternoon I felt like ending things but I have since had a short fruitful spell in counselling and of course the life altering news I received on April 11th the offer of a house although the news had already filtered through via that wonderful thing called the “countryside grapevine” that had some people asking me had I gotten any news I would like to share with them…

I did the adult thing and at the grand old age of 33, moved into my own place. To say the move has had a positive impact would be an understatement. I have a new lease of life since I made the move. As I said in a previous piece I don’t know myself and have gained the backbone I needed. I have also had the opportunity to experience the freedom that many people spoke of !! Yes paying bills in good fun….

I know that for some people my age that move away from home has gone in reverse and some of my age group are back at home for varying reasons. I hope that things improve for those people in 2024. I know how tough it is to try and break out and I am so grateful to certain people I won’t mention but there help was gratefully received.

Christmas is not my favourite time of year and some will read this and say what the hell makes him happy so, but it really is the simple things, peace and quiet and a simple life with no interference. I think I am on that road after many years of trying.

I wish anyone that has welcomed new children, grandchildren, daughter in laws, son in laws etc well and to those who have lost loved ones, my thoughts are with you all. It is a tough time for even the hardest of people so think before you speak. I wear my feelings on my face so I can’t really hide them.

To everyone, both near and far that wished me well with my move and congratulated me on the step, I thank you all, so as I type sitting in the house I really felt was very far away from my reach over the last few years, I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year.

To those who are finding things tough at the moment, reach out to someone you trust and try and talk it out, trust me when I say that making the move to open up will help. Keep the head up and chest out, not easy but you’ll find a way.  To all, good luck in 2024….

Life and Times

Just wanting to follow up my video on Tuesday with a written piece on the fallout from a suicide attempt. I have spoken with family and friends about my attempts to end my life. As I said in the video I know now that had I gone through with the plan to end my life, it would have done more harm than the supposed good I felt my death would have brought to family and friends.

Looking back as I write these words, I can see how hurtful it is and I am only writing of the situation almost 10 years later to try and again show in written form that things can look awful in the dark moments but they will get better I promise…

I speak from real experience and just hope that by again shining a light on these issues it will help one person see that life is worth fighting for. I know too that in those dark moments you truly feel that life and your family and friends lives will be better without you in it but again trust me having spoken to a few people concerning my own situation, I know that my death would have only opened another can of worms.

I am still here even though on several occasions I felt not good enough to even breathe the same air as family and friends. But that is what happens when you go to the depths of despair. I with the help of a number of counsellors have found the worth in living over the past 10 years. Not that trouble won’t resurface but I now feel strong enough that I have the coping skills and mental fortitude to get past any future setbacks that may happen.

I also know, there are people who probably look and me and think what has he really got to be worried about, he is single and has no family of his own to worry about but as has been shown we need to try and look after all, the person who is out going is much at risk as the quiet soul who rarely opens his or her mouth.

I have quietly tried to highlight these things by using my own personal experience as the guide and by writing a large number of pieces over the past while. I realise that many won’t know where to turn in the hope to find the help they may need.

The help is there 24/7 and thankfully we have seen things change in regards to certain supports for mental health. Yes it is far from perfect but it is turning and with the advocacy of the likes of Neil Breslin ( Bressie) things will change it might take a few years but nothing changes overnight even with the best of intentions and will of many people.

I just hope that by using my own story people will take note and sit up and ask the question, are you doing ok ? It doesn’t cost the earth but if we see someone we think might need a listening ear, just go with your gut and ask !!

My door is open to anyone that may need a listening ear, I of course still have my own problems but such is life. I now have the kettle and about 10,000 teabags to get through so if you need a chat I am willing to listen.

I have my own support network that has been cultivated over the past 7 years in particular and I know I can reach out to them and they will come back to me when they can. I probably seem like a cold fish and It may seem like that I can’t empathise but appearances can be deceiving.

I have grown far more aware of my own mental wellbeing and the feelings of others now on occasion in recent times I may have said the wrong thing but I now see I got things wrong on occasion.

I just hope that this honest and open take will show people that when you take the brave step to open up that it will be worth it. I promise If I can do it then others will gain the courage to open up to family, friends…

No is a tough word to hear

The word “no” is so tough to hear, after a job interview, trying to get into a sports team or just in general terms. I have to say when I have used this particular word in relation to doing certain things to do with family, special occasions or times of the year. The tactic of chipping away has been used to get agreement to do something.

No more will that particular thing work, I have grown that back bone I spoke about a few months ago. It has been so beneficial when it comes to saying “no” when asked to get involved. I suppose I mostly likely over use it but once you learn to use it you get quite good at it !!

I just wanted to write about this because when I say “no” now I mean it and I don’t want people trying to chip away and finally gaining agreement by badgering. I have found myself with that confidence that I feigned many times and for that I am most grateful.

I can be stubborn that will of course come as a shock to many (yeah right) but I feel that when you say no beyond a certain point in life it should suffice and you should not have to have as I call it chapter and verse ready for people.

Of course hearing the word “no” in other ways can be heart breaking if it’s to do with a medical issue that can’t be treated or that job interview you practiced for weeks…

When we as a family heard that no more could be done for Mam back in 2016, it’s in those moments that the word “no” can be so cruel. But Mam did her bit because she was an organ donor so even though we heard the word “no” in another moment we saw her perform an incredibly selfless act. One I don’t often talk of but it is one that should probably be spoken of more….

The reason I bring this up is, those that need organ donation hear the word “no” many times but they never give up hope that someday there dream will come through. I can report that those people who 7 years ago received Mother’s organs are doing well as of a few weeks ago.

I have been told no myself on a few occasions but it never worried me even if my face suggested different. Being told “no” can be character building but it may also break those who don’t take rejection well…

My parents were told I may never walk, talk or go to a mainstream school another version of that word “no” but that has been proven incorrect due to diligence of many people and as I head for 34, they still can’t find the mute button, I have a feeling I didn’t get fitted with one when they were handing them out (apologises folks) …

So for all the times you may be told “no” in life just dust it off and reset the clock and go again because many people may not have the chance to….

Andrew Conway

It defiantly hits home the nature of certain sports seeing Andrew Conway having to call time on his career due to a persistent knee injury. He got back a month ago to play with Munster one final time in the win over the Sharks in Thomond Park.

Last week, another top notch operator had to admit defeat in his quest to get back to full fitness. Andrew Conway played his rugby with Blackrock College, Leinster and Munster in the pro game playing with Leinster 42 times and then moving to Munster in summer 2013 and going on to play in red 150 times and scoring 50 tries . He turned out for Ireland 30 times and scored 15 tries, a serious strike rate for club and country.

The try that will most likely stand out for most will be the effort against Toulon in 2018 in the Champions Cup quarter final when in the final 5 minutes when Munster were 5 points down and he collected a Francois Trinh Duc clearance on the touch line and cut in to race clear and score a try that will be long remembered by all in Thomond that afternoon.

He as I say had a terrific strike rate, 50 tries in 150 for Munster, 16 in 42 for Leinster and 15 in 30 caps for Ireland. He was an extremely cleaver rugby player who was well able to tackle as well as ind a gap when his team needed it.

Adept in the full back roll as well as playing on either wing, his durability and experience will be sorely missed by all who played alongside him. It is getting tough to write these pieces as I am in and around the same age and older than some of these guys, Johnny Holland had to do something similar in 2016, Felix Jones, CJ Stander.

Felix Jones has gone on to have great success as a coach with Munster were he cut his teeth as a coach and most recently with South Africa where he has just won his second World Cup winners medal. He will now take a place in the England coaching team alongside Steve Borthwick.

Back to Andrew Conway, it will be interesting to see what he may do next in his life, I am sure he will take a break before making his next move. Will he go into coaching or will he be more than happy to make a clean break away from rugby…

Whatever may be in the pipeline for Andrew, I’d like to wish him well and thank him for the last number of years in red… I for one won’t forget your try vs Toulon…

Cerebral Palsy- My Journey

After being at “Bressie” last week the live version of his podcast. I have been thinking about my own journey. I have had cerebral palsy all my life which affects my left side and causes me the stumble from time to time.

I was set thinking by with Niall Breslin said and to that end I want to tell people about the journey as I only really mention it in passing and even people who know me well still tell me they didn’t know I have it and to them it’s a shock when I tell them or when they see the leg brace I wear, it’s not a fashion accessory by Gucci or Fred Perry let me tell you !! You won’t see them at Paris fashion week.

I wear a leg brace daily and that is the strange shape you may see through my jeans or tracksuit bottoms, I have set you thinking now haven’t I !! I think about all the moments I felt like wanting to cut my leg off and get a new one but you can’t do that in real life and particularly as an adult.

But this is the way I am made and I can’t do anything drastic only live with the situation and make the best of it. I have always said I felt like I never fitted in but into my mid-thirties I can now say I am happy and content with where I am.

The big battles have been had in my own head over the years and the little voice in the back of my mind has finally been silenced and I am most grateful for that because earlier this year I didn’t think I would see my way to Christmas 2023.

How time changes when an opportunity presents itself and as I head toward 2024 I can see a future, the very future that on many occasions I felt I didn’t deserve or want but looking back now I know I am strong enough to face future problems and see a way around them rather than falling down a rabbit hole.

My body is beginning to show me that age is finally kicking in and heavy lifting is starting to show me that I am beginning the journey over the hill. I will find a way around of course but it does say to me it might be time to find something that won’t kill me physically.

I do compensate on my right side to try and take the pressure off my left side. I walk with a slight limp, saying all this may come to some as a shock, to more it will answer that question that people always want to ask but won’t until I do it for them.

I was in the care of Enable Ireland until I was 18 and then was discharged to make my way in life. Not once could I say my disability caused me to think badly of my life or anything my own head and brain did that for me. I can be very resourceful when I need to be.

I have just realised that as I move through the next few decades I will need to listen to my body because as I say my body is starting to show the signs of age but let me say I won’t allow that deter me but I am acutely aware that things will start to change for me physically as I hit 40 which is of course is my next big milstone, Christ writing that is funny.

I gave up playing sport owing to knowing it was time to step back. I was lucky to be able to play with more able bodied players until I got to 18, playing youths soccer with Ferry Rangers and up to minor level with Tarbert.

I am so pleased I realised my limits at that point and it wasn’t me just giving up the ghost, I knew my body was crying out to stop. I will push my body but I know when to stop, it’s not being lazy it is just me knowing my limitations !!

As I mentioned at the start of this, I was at “Bressie” last Tuesday and It certainly made me think of the journey I have been on and continue to be on of course. Not all journeys are smooth and plain sailing but that is the fun of it. It’s how you bounce back from the choppy moments is how you will be able to say I found my way through that and will do again if I need to.

I use many traits that I learned from family, friends and comedians if I am honest. I try my best to make people smile on a daily basis and sometimes I will use myself as the punchline and seeing people smile is enough for me.

It really is the simple life I crave, I am on that road to getting that particular part of my life in place. I have sat writing and scribbling away for almost 11 years and I still surprise many when I say that. I am only recording in the past 7 years.

What I am getting at is do not allow things that may hold you back to define who you are as a person, find a way around them, ask the question, don’t sit back to wait for others to do so because I know from experience the question may never come….

Darkness Into Light 2022

Having signed up for the Pieta House Darkness into Light Walk that will take place on May 7th at 4.15am here in Tarbert I have spent much of my time in recent days reflecting on my journey.

I know some of the issues that have surrounded this walk nationally due to questions surrounding funds being given out has caused much discussion and anger but I suppose the walk on Saturday May 7th is about just supporting those like myself who in the past have contemplated ending our lives but I thank my lucky stars that I am still here and  can say with real conviction I would not be here only for the intervention of my late mother and a first cousin of mine.

I have seen in the years since my attempt to end my life what impact actual suicides have done to families and those close to the person who has chosen to end his or her life.

It certainly is not the answer but in my experience I do think that the person who is contemplating ending their life that they feel this course of action would solve all the apparent issues that may or not be happening. I certainly thought this way myself in 2014 and it’s only now I truly see that thinking this way is so harmful.

I write this piece trying to say to anyone that might suffering that you should go to someone you trust and explain your situation if you can of course. I have gotten better at this, still not 100% at it but getting much better.

I had a moment a few weeks ago when I was down the island and standing on the pier that 8 years ago I had planned to jump off of and for a split second I was back in that moment in March 2014 and then as quick as the thought arrived it left me….

I spoke to a friend about this and we worked out that it was only a moment !! I do my best to be a listening ear for people if they are willing to open up, which I know can be so hard to do…. I have no formal training but I have been that person that was struggling and didn’t know what to do next and managed to find a way to help myself out. I am still learning as the years move on but with age comes experience.

Look what I am saying is that the walk on Saturday May 7th is an option for people to get out and show support for a cause that has impacted every community across Ireland. It’s a situation that continues to cause families and those suffering in silence real and genuine torment. There is light at the end of the tunnel take it from one who went to the edge on more than one occasion and thankfully I saw the light and also I owe those two family members I mentioned earlier my life….

Look after yourselves and I might see some of you on May 7th at 4.15am…