When the carer becomes the care-ee…

“I’m having a bad day,” texts Martha. When I get home I give her a hug and say, “I think there might be something wrong with your engine, I’m going to have to check your oil with my dipstick,” and she laughs. And then I say the thing that she’s been longing to hear all day:

“Do you want to go to bed?”

This has everything to do with her recharging her batteries and nothing to do with me discharging mine – I will the keep the kids between the ditches for a few hours. Continue reading

Repeal the 8th.

My wife and I have an intellectually-disabled daughter. She’s autistic. She will never understand consent. If she were ever pregnant, it would be through rape. If that ever happened, would you come to our house and tell us what is best for our child? Because that is what your No vote on May 25th would mean, in practice.

She’s on the cusp of puberty. She’s terrified of blood. She will scream (and I mean SCREAM) when she’s cut, and scream even louder if we approach her to help. That can escalate to scratching, kicking and biting. Any trip to A&E might mean restraint or sedation. Can you imagine what it would be like trying to get her through pregnancy? Continue reading

The Rule

There is a woman who is too sick to leave her bed, and there is a fire. She is worried, but the fire is in the house at other end of the terrace, and the firefighters are here.

She asks to be evacuated, but the firefighters remind her that she lives in Ireland, where a woman cannot have an evacuation unless there is a big risk to her life.

That’s The Rule. Continue reading

It could happen again

It could happen again, and it could be my daughter, or yours, miscarrying at seventeen weeks, getting sicker by the hour, dying day by day, just like Savita.

Can you imagine yourself, grabbing every doctor you can find by the scruff of the neck? “For the love of Christ, save her.”

I can.

I can see myself pleading, begging, crying. Just the thought of that desperation is making me taste adrenaline in my mouth.

Perhaps, though, you have convinced yourself that the eighth amendment had nothing to do with Savita’s death. Perhaps Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, who chaired the HSE inquiry into Ms Halappanavar’s death, is wrong, and you are right.

But would you bet your daughter’s life on it?

I wouldn’t.

On May 25th, I will vote in a school hall – the school where my twelve-year-old daughter goes – but I will imagine that the voting booth is in that hospital corridor, sometime in the future, and I have the choice to untie her doctor’s hands, to end the madness of equating her life, in that moment, with the heartbeat of her miscarrying fetus.

You might accuse me of having an over-active imagination. I will admit that I have a good imagination, and yet, what I cannot imagine, what I cannot fathom, is any father, any husband, any man who has ever loved a woman who is pregnant, in that dire situation, voting to retain the eighth amendment.

#repealthe8th #togetherforyes

The Crystal Haze

I’m sitting on my usual packed commuter bus when this wonderful wisp of a woman comes up the stairs and scans for a seat. She’s like a living, breathing Orla Kiely pattern. Lovely, but full of notions.

The only seat left is beside me, so she wisps over and floats into it. I continue with my usual bus activity: leaning my head against the window and regretting every decision I’ve ever made that has led me to being on a bus at that hour of the morning.

Halfway through the journey another passenger who is sitting a few rows up gets off at their stop. Then Niamh gets up and moves to that seat, not so she could sit by herself (the first class of Irish travel), SO SHE COULD SIT BESIDE SOMEONE ELSE! Away from me. Continue reading

World Autism Awareness Day – Julia

Martha and I planned to have an awesome family, like The Brady Bunch but even cooler, if that’s possible. I would be the dad who enlightened and entertained, somewhere between an extremely hip Pa Ingalls and a self-aware Homer Simpson, while Martha would teach the kids how to eye-roll at their dad’s bad jokes.

Then we discovered that both of our daughters, Ailbhe and Sophie, are on the autistic spectrum. Like most parents, at the start, we only understood autism as a movie trope: social ineptitude married to marvellous maths. ‘No, Aidan, you can’t bring the girls to Vegas,’ Martha would often say. She had a point. They’re not good at maths. We would have lost everything. Continue reading


Tea is not just a drink,
it is a fundamental human right.

It makes me think
that there might actually be a God.

See, if I was told
it was grown in Elysian Fields,
and brewed by Jesus, I’d believe it.

Look at it! Take a sip!

It goes down, brown and smooth, Continue reading