Leaving Cert 2019

I was asked to put a few words together about the 2019 Leaving Cert. Very apt as I did my Leaving Cert in June 2009. I have to start by saying that I didn’t win any awards for diligence in my 5 years in secondary school. But I was pleased with how things turned out in the end.

Enjoy the last few days in secondary because life won’t be the same again when you close the door in the next few days to finish off your preparations for the exams that some say will define you but trust me while it is an extremely important set of exams  but it will not define you as a person.

I did not do a great leaving cert but 10 years on I am doing what I always wanted and that was to write and talk about sport. I didn’t do it the conventional way but that is me. There are plenty of ways to skin a cat as the saying goes, just do your best and then at the very least you won’t be wondering could I have done more or less to help myself.

As I say, enjoy your last few days as a student because many will go college , some will take up apprenticeships , more will go down the Post Leaving Cert route to get to where there are aiming to go. It has been a steep learning curve for this author over the last 10 years but I found myself after many years of looking.

I am just trying to offer a different perspective on the next few weeks but listen to your teachers and parents they know you better than I do…. Don’t get overly stressed over the next few weeks, it will all work out in the end…. All the very best with everything…. To the Class of 2019, go well and don’t stress out too much…. Things will work out in some shape or form.

29 Not Out

At midnight, I turn 29. The official start of the final year of the decade that is supposed to shape the person you will be when you hit the magical number that 30…

I have been taking stock of where I am in life. I am doing what I always wanted to maybe not the way that 90% of people would do it but that is me, doing things the roundabout way instead of taking the well worn path of so many people.

I have stood back far more in recent times and actually though before I spoke which for many years it seemed to be something that I would never get the grasp of in my late teens and my 20s.

I suppose writing about my frailty and the stuff that has dominated the last 9 years has been a huge help. I have been recording and writing since 2013. There aren’t too many people in the career they hoped for when they were in school and of course there are exceptions to every rule and they are many working in their chosen field.

I suppose all these milestones are that bit more important now but I still am the one person who will turn 29 quietly and do likewise in 12 months time when I turn 30. Sweet Jesus even writing that down is funny. I couldn’t wait to turn 18 and now I am staring down the barrel of my 30th birthday.

For now though, it is again time to take stock of life and see where I am and what I am. Life does not turn out the way we plan it to, sometimes it will but sometimes it won’t and you will need to revisit your life plan.

The Life Plan, the thing that used to scare the shit out of me , being here at 18 , being there at 21 and then having life sorted by 30. House, wife, kids, That’s the way you are suppose to do it but as I alluded to already I don’t seem to have grasped that concept. What I am saying is I will do thing my way and see where that will take me….

What I am getting at is I have never been one to conform and accept the ordinary, my arrival on planet earth will tell you that. Being anointed only hours after birth and then fighting for life for 3 months should have taught me about the fighting qualities that are within me.

Hitting 29 later on will come and go but the reality that I will turn 30 in 12 months is really beginning to hit home and I hope that it will help spur me on in the next few years.

I have done my utmost to help people and be respectful of people from all walks of life. I hope to continue my volunteering and continue to give back to people. I have tried to be there for people in their times of crisis and of course I have my own go to people when I need to offload the feelings that have held me back. The battle in my head and mind has been difficult but over the last few years I have learned how to deal with that battle…

Looking to the future, the possibilities are actually endless, I never thought I’d put that phrase down on paper or say it out loud. I have turned into a far more relaxed person although it may not seem like it to many people.

I can look on the last 29 years with fondness, yes there have been plenty of tough moments but for the most part I would not want to start again.

I have lived out the dream of being in a position to get to talk to some of own best known sporting personalities like Jimmy Magee, I have spoken to Olympians , pole dancers , local people , I have been MC at a few events and reported on many sporting events. I have been at 3 World Cups in 2014 in France, 2015 and 2017 on home soil. I have tried to give a voice to some unknown sports people and done my best to write and record about women in sport…

Let’s hope I can continue my recording and writing in the future…. It is 29 and I am most defiantly not out…….




Ronan O Mahony- Munster Man

Ronan O Mahony – Munster Man

Ronan O Mahony has today announced his retirement from professional rugby after 70 appearances and 21 tries in red. He made his senior debut back in 2013 and his European bow in 2015 away to Saracens. He retires just a few weeks short of his 30th birthday.

Today’s announcement set me thinking about the process that young pro’s go through when a decision like retirement is put before a player and yes it is a last resort in most cases, hours of hard work in with medical teams, doctors , strength and conditioning coaches etc…

Ronan O Mahony has like so many before him made that hard decision of taking medical advice and then deciding to step away from the game he has played since childhood. He came through the Munster academy and has played under age rugby with Ireland.

He will now get the support of IRUPA, the players association to help him gather himself for the next step in life. Having being based in UL with Munster over the last few years he would have been close to education and with the processes that are in place through IRUPA , Ronan will be offered real support in the next step in his life.

His announcement has set me thinking, we always wonder how older people will cope with retirement but to have to retire at 29 is a unique situation and of course he will be able to lean on older brother Barry for support who himself had to retire from rugby after a career ending injury in his 20s.

Thankfully there are structures in place to help him adjust to life away from sport. Whatever he decides to do with his life he will do very well. All the very best in retirement Ronan. Thanks for the memories…….

Christmas and New Year

So it’s that time of the year again, it’s hard to think I was writing a similar piece this time last year. Where has that 12 months gone? Time to spend some quality time with family and friends again, in some cases it will be the first time families will be together since last Christmas.

There a numerous reasons for that, work, strained relationships, living in different countries etc. I am not a massive fan of this time of year as I will openly and often admit but I will put on the shop face and try and take some of the advice I freely pass on to others.

Seeing people arriving home to spend time with family is great and it is great to meet up with people you may not meet for another 12 months. It defiantly brings some sort of a buzz to the place which keeps going from now till early January.

Spare a thought also for people who struggle at this time of year and may not have the family or friends to help them through the next few days. This time of the year can also make old wounds seem fresh and the fact that a loved one is no longer around or cannot be at home for Christmas but with the right approach those tough moments will pass and you can try and enjoy this time of year.

To people who have their loved one at home already, enjoy the next few days, to those who are awaiting loved ones to arrive home to the doorstep I hope the wait isn’t too long.

To those who have welcomed new family members be they sons in law, daughters in law, kids or grand kids congratulations.

To those who have lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas my sympathies or are mourning a loved one at this time of the year. Keep the head up and the chest out.

To all from this author, Happy Christmas and enjoy the coming days and whatever the next few days has to offer…..

Grief and Me

Grief and Me

Spurred on by an article I read last night on grief, I will try and explain how grief has affected me in the last few years. I have to admit first off the worst instance of grief hit me was in the days following my grandfather’s death in 2014, I never experienced anything like the feelings I had following his death.

Losing my grandfather affected me to such an extent I almost ended my life around a month after he passed away. People are great in moments when you need them but pre 2014, I would never have opened my mouth about things that bothered me, a shock for those who know me but yes Cian Mc Gibney was stuck for words. Sadly 2014 wasn’t to be the last time I’d be stuck for words.

Anger, frustration and the feeling of being constantly tormented were just some of the feelings I felt, and the little voice in the back of my head telling me I could have done more although I was there every step of the way through his battle with Alzheimer’s. I did all I could but it took a few years for me to realise that particular fact.

For people who haven’t experienced any significant loss in life and for those who have I know what you are going through, to those who haven’t lost somebody treasure those moments with the one’s you love because as I can testify it can all change so suddenly and you may not get the chance to say what you need to say. What I am trying to say is grief has affected me more than I will ever let on, the veil of fun and humour has returned but I know now how to control how I use the veil.

2 years on and I still find myself wondering what the hell happened that evening in September 2016  and what can I do to move beyond it which I am doing in a very measured way. I know I seem to be very distant and cold at times when things are tough but that is just the way I approach those situations. I need time to think and evaluate what occurred and that why I may seem distant and cold on occasion.

Humour has been a saving grace for me a few times but for those people who I snapped at or who I may have given the cold shoulder to in the months following Mam’s death , I sincerely apologise. I am not like that usually but in those tough moments I need my own head space and then slowly I will come around and begin a healing process. I am still in the middle of the sea of grief at this moment in time and will be for another while yet.

Grief doesn’t move on after the 1st year even though, some people say in that uniquely Irish way of putting things is that “time is a great healer” etc… Yes this is true but it doesn’t mean that on the stroke of the end of the 1st year that the bag will come out and you can suddenly box off your feelings.

I have had to face up to the daily routine of on occasion re living those fatal final moments and yes in time they have begun to fade away and lessen but they will never fully leave me. And that in essence is grief, it will begin to fade but never fully leave your mind.

I do treasure the good days but I also beat myself up about the days that weren’t as good as they could have been but that is the way life works , if it was all a bed of roses it would be fairly boring. I have changed as a person in the last two years, it might not seem like to most people but I have changed beyond all recognition and for the better I hope.

Stress, anger and frustration now comes and goes very quickly because I am able to spot those subtle changes in mood and combat the feelings that may begin to surface. I am a stronger person for the losses I have had to bear in the last couple of years.

I genuinely though after Mam died, I’d end up in a heap and struggling to manage even the smallest task but from somewhere deep inside I found the strength to kick on and move on with life. Life is very different now but again life doesn’t stand still for anyone and everyone will face the tough days but it really is how you bounce back and recover that will define you in life………

Letter Of Support

I have been asked to write a short piece about my battle with suicide and depression. I have struggled over the years with a battle that has been fought mostly in my head. I have always felt not good enough to be on this earth.

Three times I have contemplated suicide and on one occasion I was very close to following through on the promise of actually going through with my suicide plan. Only for my Mom figuring out there was something wrong with me and asking a relative to call me to see could he find out what was wrong with me.

I went to my grandparents home that evening and wrote 10 letters saying goodbye to groups of people. I sat there watching the Ireland women’s rugby team play England and contemplated life because only a few weeks earlier I lost my grandfather.

I felt totally useless as I sat there thinking about my next move which I thought was to throw myself off the pier down in Tarbert Island. Then the phone rang in my grandparent’s kitchen and it was a cousin of mine who claimed to be looking for my uncle but I found that very strange as my grandfather had just passed away and when you need to contact my uncle you call his mobile and not the home phone.

This call proved to be the call that saved my life because had that call not happened I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this piece.  I have battled with the demons in my head over the last 14 years and continue this battle on a daily basis.

Since September 2016 life has been very different that was when my Mam passed away and it took me the best part of 6 months to get my head straight to try and comprehend what had happened. In January of this year I started counselling and after 7 months of counselling I felt strong enough to step away from counselling and see how I could get on coping on my own.

Yes I have the support of my family but I still struggle on a daily basis with what happened on that faithful evening in September. The battle in my head has returned and has come back with vengeance but thankfully after 7 months of counselling I have the coping skills to recognise the signs of when things are getting tough and I know when to take a step back.

My reason for writing this short piece is to tell people that even when times are tough it is ok to stand up and say things are not ok. I spent far too long trying to deal with issues however big or small on my own and that particular way of doing things nearly cost me my life. Thankfully things have improved for me and I am on the way back…

When you see someone that may look like they are in need of help reach out to them and ask them how they are , the chance to talk and get it off their chest may just be the release valve that person needed…

This was written last year (2017) as part of a campaign. I still struggle with my mental health from time to time and even with the coping skills I have learned and the skills to notice the signs when things may get tough. I still need help from time to time.

I try so hard not to burden people but it really does help to be open and honest. I am always available to others as a listener or to help with some advice…. To anyone struggling at the moment, never forget your never alone although it may feel like it at the minute , always remember to seek out support. I am trying to use this advice myself in daily life.

Always remember It is ok not to be ok…..

My Disability and I

My Disability and I

I felt compelled to write on my experiences as a person with a disability that hasn’t affected my ability to live a normal life with a mild disability. For those who don’t know or didn’t realise I have cerebral palsy, it affects my left side and means I have to wear a leg brace until the day I die on my left leg.

It also means I do some things with my left hand that are a force of habit and I may also stagger when I have been standing for an extended period of time in one spot, It’s not drink related !!

It still amazes me that people don’t realise I have a disability or if they do they wait until I bring it up and then ask me questions about it. On one occasion I was walking past the Funeral home in Tarbert on the evening of a Funeral and there was a car waiting for the Funeral with two men in a car and one man wound down his window and asked about the Funeral and then as I answered and began to walk away he called after me and asked about my leg, I answered and called it an old war wound and walked on. Not bothering with the line of questioning from a person who didn’t know me from Adam.

People who know me have never asked about it unless I bring it up and when I do people seem more at ease speaking about it or other things. If you have a question and not just the usual line I get which is “I spotted you were walking funny alright, dragging your leg a small bit “please just ask instead of waiting for me to say something.

I have never let it get in the way of me living my life. It was suggested from early on that I may be better off in a special school but thankfully that suggestion was immediately turned down by my parents and thanks to the Enable Ireland Services in Tralee which I spent 18 years with and the work of all my teachers in National and Secondary School in particular Mrs. Coolahan and her husband Mikey Joe who along with my parents put extra time into me.

She also tells a story that I had the “Life of a Lord “because I had a unique ability to get others to do things I couldn’t do myself, namely Sean Considine , Andrew Flavin , Gareth O Connell and Shane Heffernan and even though we all left school 10 years ago I can still depend on these lads , which I appreciate more and more as the days go by. I still have that ability into my late 20s.

From a position where I was only given hours to live and was given the last rites due to complications during my birth which meant a shunt had to be put into my head to drain fluid from my brain and as I explained last night this machine no longer works and there was talk about 12 years ago to take it out but thankfully the decision was made not to do anything and I didn’t have to face another operation after a few in my early years.

To all who have helped in my 28 years on the planet thank you all so much, it is very much appreciated. I will continue to need assistance and I can be assured you’ll all continue to provide that much valued support. I’ll also try and find the mute button as well I promise…

I have never let my disability rule my life and I will continue not to let it dictate what I do in life……. And If you ever have a question about the way I walk or my mannerisms please just ask and I’ll happily explain my situation.

Philly Mc Mahon – Dubs Star

Having watched Philly Mc Mahon’s documentary last night, I have to admit yet another sport star has surprised me with his honesty and openness about a topic very close to his heart. He was very open about his brother battle with drug addiction and the effect it had on him and his family.

I have been very open about my own issues in recent past. Talking about your issues is defiantly the way forward and this particular avenue has been a huge help to me because I now realise what talking and opening up can achieve. It can save someone from cracking under the weight of things that may be bothering them.

I have to admit as I sat and watched Philly talk so openly about all the stuff that has gone on in his life it made me realise how lucky I was that I opened up to people about my troubles because knowing the way I am I would have cracked under the pressure.

Knowing the correct people to talk to is so vital, because life can seem very tough when you think you are alone with your troubles and take it from me who thought for many years he was alone and that these troubles were only being suffered by myself. I fooled myself and thought I’ll fix all these things myself and be a better person for the experience.

I was very wrong to think that I could do it all alone and that thought process nearly cost me everything but thankfully I am on a better road now since 2014. Yes I have had some up’s and downs since then but on the whole life hasn’t been too bad.

I learned a few things from the programme last night and another thing the programme brought home to me is that third level education isn’t for everyone and that there are plenty of way’s to skin a cat and get the opportunities in life that you want. If anything it showed me that not everyone will go the conventional route to get to where they want to be in life.

If people missed out on the programme, get it on the RTE Player I would highly recommend people take time out to watch it…..

Jenny Kavanagh


Hi Jenny, It’s a pleasure to chat to you,

Many people might remember you for your role in Fair City where you played Cleo Collins, can you tell us about what you are currently doing out in the South of France ?


Thank you, finally, we get to do this! It’s been so hectic this year I can’t describe. So currently I’m sat in my apartment overlooking the bay of Cannes… how lucky do I feel saying that? But I am living down here working in marketing and still building a personal training and lifestyle business


How did you get started as a personal trainer ?


I was always “into” fitness for my body and mind. In 2010 I climbed Mount Everest with some fellow personalities let’s say for a charity called the HOPE foundation.


After that I moved to London and my boyfriend then was really into his fitness so I gained more knowledge and understanding, it was a goal of mine to understand for me, but a couple of years later I was studying personal training and nutrition with a goal to help people in a world of fads and fake messages sustain healthy balanced lifestyles.


What is it like to work in France and how did you find it trying to set up a business in France, was the language an issue ?


Setting up a business anywhere is tough and it will have its highs and lows.


I moved here and got onto the expat scene fast because that was where I could meet friends and clients, identify, learn and grow. So no, the language wasn’t an issue from that side.


But I live in France, I want to speak better french than I do, I take a lot of lessons and it continues to improve but I try! C’est difficile.


Would you like to set up a business back home in Ireland in the near future ?


I have no idea. I think Ireland will always be home and where my heart feels most full. But I’m an adventurous person. I would love to come back to work, maybe I will come back and do some workshops… if I get enough call for it I would be honored. That would be amazing!


What sort of people come to you looking for nutritional advice or personal training ?


Everyone. Who doesn’t need guidance? Even I need guidance from another trainer.


We live in a world where it is very easy to fall down and a  good trainers role in your life is to take your hand and pull you up… teach you ways to break down your own blocks and live a life that you want! It’s individual, and it’s about health and wellness.


Everyone needs this knowledge- it is power, and so my goal has always been to make it accessible.


Did you enjoy being on “Irish In Wonderland last year ?


It was a fantastic experience. Random, I hadn’t played in a casino down here before, and of course it was lovely to be on irish tv again.


In the future, would you like to go back to acting if the right role came along ?


Of course, acting is in your DNA. It’s my make up. It’s a tough industry and so to endure it, it has to be part of you. My journey has never once involved a retirement or a door shut on acting- I have gone where my gut and my heart needed to be and so if I was offered a role that felt right, absolutely. I do miss it.


What sort of training regime do you follow to stay fit ?


I go to the gym, there I do weights and a little cardio. I do like high intensity so it is short and not so sweet but it’s done and I feel the endorphins, and go. I live on a hill so I use that a lot and I have weights and TRX straps here that I do core exercises with.


Do you have anyone working with you ?


I collaborate a lot. My newest venture will be with a PT friend of mine in the UK- Matt Purnell, we met in college and became the best of friends. He’s like a brother. So he is a very talented trainer and has competed in body building competitions. He has a different training technique to me and has a different skill set and knowledge to me. So we are combining forces to create online training.


I have also collaborated with @goevoapp and I do the workouts and some recipes on that. A fantastic app for weightloss and guidance on a lifestyle change through a mindset.

And finally, one of the creators of the @goevoapp and I will be running a podcast series on all things healthy mind/body, lifestyle and motivation and empowerment. Again, the belief here is that fitness is so much more than lifting a weight and weight loss is so much more than being hungry. Finding a way to understand how it all works and how it can work for an individuals lifestyle is what we want to do.


Do you work with anyone overseas, in Europe or America ?


Yes, all over, and hopefully continuing to grow once the training program is available online


Have you any advice for people who may want to make some changes in their lives ?


Yep- add me on Instagram @jennylukavanagh or the Facebook page Jenset training… I offer all kinds of tips and tricks and recipes.


My motto is always a little change daily accumulates into big changes. So make a positive achievable change and daily and keep going.


Lastly Jenny, what plans have you got for the future ?


Lots, and going with the flow. I make plans but then I see what happens. I think what I’ve told you is lots of them and hopefully they will go well but who knows, I just keep trying new things. You’ve got me thinking I would love to do workshops at home, so maybe that a plan I will visit.


Thank you Jenny for taking time out to speak with me…

My pleasure, see you soon I hope!

Mam 2018 , 2 years on

I felt compelled to put a few feelings down on paper again as I approach Mam’s 2nd anniversary. Jesus even writing that down is strange, 2 years on. Much has changed and some stuff has stayed the same. The headstone went up and that was another huge milestone to get over and that was done with a huge amount of certainty and a little trepidation.

As the 2nd anniversary approaches, I feel far more in control of my emotions than 12 months ago. That is not to say by the weekend I won’t be a mess and I will get over that hurdle if it arises. I still have plenty to learn but I feel like I am a much better person than I was 2 years ago. I don’t get as tense or worked up about the small stuff as I did in previous years.

It may not look like it to people on the outside but I am much more at peace with where I am in life and in my 28 years I haven’t been able to say that too often. I have so many people to say thank you to for listening to me at certain stages over the past 2 years. To those people, you will never know how grateful I truly am for every small thing that has been done for me over the years. I won’t embarrass those people but they know who they are…

I have spent the last few years getting my head right and just have realised how many sacrifices people made for me , in particular both my parents. I just hope that wherever Mam is, she is happy with how I have conducted myself since September 7th 2016.

Mam and Dad gave me tools to conduct myself in a certain way, I looked to Mam in particular for support and the courage to drive on with life when things got tough. She has looked over me since Saturday September 10th 2016. I have been moody , cranky , happy , sad , nearly driven to distraction by certain moments since that day but that is life I suppose.

To anyone who has lost a family member , friend or someone close to them in the last 12 months , my sincere condolences to you and your family…… I was always told to do things in a efficient manner, many times I heard those immortal words “ Work and Story “ Those words still reverberate in my mind on a daily basis.

Mam , you will be in my mind all week as you have been since the moment they switched off the machine that faithful day in 2016.

Rest easy as always Mam…


Cian Mc Gibney