I’m a 46 year old working mother and a native of Dublin city. My twin sister Etta and I were adopted together from St Patrick’s Mother and Baby Home in 1972 aged 9 months. Mum and Dad grew up in Crumlin and Drimnagh and worked hard to give us the best. Dad’s work brought us to Sligo as children and we spent our school years there, returning to Dublin as a family after our Leaving Cert. We have a younger brother Len and both of my siblings are emigrants who have lived in the USA and Canada for some years.
After finishing school, I wanted to go straight to work and I did so aged 17 in the hotel industry in Germany where I could try to use both the people skills my parents convinced me that I had, and the German language skills I had learned and loved at school. I continued that career and enjoyed many more years in hotel management in Dublin and beyond. In hindsight, it was a great training ground for politics in terms of dealing with the public and solving diverse and unpredictable issues as they arise and I value that experience greatly.
I’m married to Derrick, a classical guitarist and teacher by profession. Our son Julian is a pupil at Templeogue College and our daughter Joni attends St. Pius X Girls National School Terenure – two great schools. Our 3 year old husky Alaska is not yet as famous as Bród and Síoda but she’s our top dog.
I had started to become interested in politics while I was in 5th Class at school and that interest has never waned. I am privileged over 3 decades later to work in that field as a member of the Political Staff in Leinster House. I work as Assistant to Independent Senator Michael McDowell, former Tánaiste, Minister for Justice and Attorney General. I also provide support as Administrator of the Seanad Independent Group of nine independent senators. I enjoy my role immensely and count many friends and close colleagues across the political spectrum.
In 1995, Etta and I traced and met our birth mother Margaret who had spent her whole life in Industrial schools, Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes. We were shocked that a woman of her generation could have experienced a life unlived in modern Ireland. Margaret was originally from Kimmage but was placed in church & state care at the age of 2 years. When Margaret died in 2003 aged 51 we found out many disturbing details about her life in the institutions. This set me on a ten year path to speak out for her and others about this denial of rights over a lifetime. When the Magdalene women received a state apology from the Taoiseach in 2013 we felt vindicated on our mother’s behalf.
In 2018, I was appointed to the Collaborative Forum on Mother & Baby Homes by Minister Katherine Zappone and that work continues. The appointment is a voluntary position and I am Chair of the sub-committee on Memorialisation on the Forum.