Did you read Róisín yet?

A common mate call among pairs of mothers and daughters echoed along our national phone network on any given weekend. An Ireland-shaped matrix of relationships that leads them to find in her columns those common touchstones on the pitfalls and playfulness of life. A recurring item on the agenda for the weekly weekend catch-up. Invariably, it reminds one of the other, or of themselves together. Distilling what they’ve been “saying all along” into ways they’ve never heard put, or possibly as compassionately or honestly, before.

As a bridge between generations, my Mother and I have been tip tapping back and forth over her columns to each other for years. Plucking out similar calamities and falls from social grace for a duet of laughter. And letting a few seconds of silence speak for themselves when it comes to more fatal falls of the heart and good intentions. As an interpreter of the hard stuff between generations of the same blood, Róisín’s been doing it pro bono for as long as I can remember.

Last week was no different.

“Did you read Róisín yet?”

It’s rare for both of us to be on the same page. The other is always just on the brink of sitting down to do so. And there’s her crossword and Sudoku addictions to attend to first.

Last week was no different.

“I’m just about to sit down. But I heard her on Marian. That took some guts”

“It did, yeah”

But last week was different. Instead of waiting till the next call for her to catch up, I felt an unpremeditated urge to keep going.



The few seconds of silence steeled us both.

“What is it?”

“I had an abortion, too, Ma. I just never found the right time to tell you”

Her sigh of relief audible.

“Well, isn’t it lovely that it was Róisín who helped you to tell me?”

A woman who has been giving us both permission to talk as women for years . The significance was not lost on either of us.

21 thoughts on “Did you read Róisín yet?

  1. Wow. What a moment of release that must have been and how great was your mums reaction.
    I remember many years ago listening to Gay Byrne. He was interviewing an incredibly articulate man in his seventies who was perfectly describing how he felt post abuse. No big drama, no over statement of fact but raw emotion from the heart. I rang my mum knowing she was listening and said, ‘that mum, that is me talking’. She already knew I’d been abused but hadn’t coped very well. I could hear her crying and she said, ‘I’m listening Tric’.
    I so get your post. You brought me right back.

    • I can only imagine, Tric. I thought of you last week when I caught some of the discussions on Joe Duffy following the death of your man Carney. The composure and clarity the survivors had in articulating their feelings was incredibly moving. The air-waves are a powerful tool when opened up eh. Thank you.

  2. Wow was my first reaction too. I’ve loads of questions now I don’t expect you to answer! How do you feel? Relieved? Anti-climatic? Are you glad you told her?

    Don’t answer by the way! I’m just thinking out loud.

    A powerful piece of writing.

    • Oh you’re grand. Ask away surely. I’m a bit of all those things probably. I feared her judgement less than the worry it might’ve caused her (she’s pro-choice). There’s a broader issue about stigma, silence, mothers & daughters, and the stereotypical image of older Irish mothers clutching rosary beads that is all part of the agenda of shutting down talk. I was going to write about it but this came out instead. I might follow up. And thank you so much for your kind comments and curiosity – always appreciated.

  3. It’s good you were able share with your Mum. Sometimes a Third Party is exactly what’s needed to make it possible to talk about the harder stuff. My Mum learnt a lot about life from Eastenders – talking about characters was a way to relate about real life. I’m still not sure I heard her right when she told me of the time she saw one the regulars on her bus give his boyfriend a kiss before he got off; she said it with the same fondness you would share any show of love and affection.

  4. Pingback: Friday favourites: seven pockets of awesome from this week’s web (25/09/15 edition) | Breaking up with contraception

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