This is my very first blog on my brand new website. Its been a really exciting few months for me with so many things happening!
I was delighted to have graduated from Modern Vocal Training College recently and to have been asked shortly after to join the team at Speak Up Sing Out Music School. So I am thrilled to say I am now a qualified Vocal Coach and am taking students Monday-Friday. I am really excited about the new world that awaits me and excited to see what it brings.
Those who know me, know that it has been a hard few years. Shortly after recording and releasing my last song, Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat, my beautiful Mam was diagnosed with MDS, a rare type of blood cancer. For the three years that followed, we all rallied around Mam, needing to be together as much as possible.
Mam fought like such a warrior. When Ireland said that there was no more to be done, Mam refused to take it as the end and looked across the water to the UK. She was so lucky to be accepted to Kings College Hospital in London where she underwent a Stem Cell Transplant under the care of an amazing team. We as a family saw Mams strength return and for a time she was even driving around London , delighted to have her energy levels returned, alongside her independence.
Sadly, after 100 days, Mams cancer returned, much to everyone’s devastation. In Dec 2019, she returned to our beautiful home in West Kerry where she was able once again to walk on her favourite beaches and spend some time with her friends and family. Her health declined over the following months and sadly, we lost her on March 17th 2020, just as the world was going into lockdown.
Our Mam was one of the first people to pass away around that time in Ireland, and so her funeral was one of the first and came with a new set of regulations. Not knowing how to show support to our family at such a difficult time, our community of West Kerry came out and lined the roads from the church all the way to the graveyard and as we drove that road we were so overcome with the love and support shown to us and to our beautiful Mam from some of the best people in the world. Mams funeral made headlines worldwide and in that way, she had a bigger funeral than anyone would have thought possible.
However, Mams passing was the start of not only a new type of funeral but also a new way of grieving. Our family, who live all over the country, as well as my sister who lives in London- have not been able to be together over the last year to grieve properly, we have not had the support of friends that one usually receives during such a difficult time, and the hugs have been few and far between. We have had to spend our first Christmas and her first birthday apart, each monthly anniversary has gone by without us having each other close to hold, I have not been to her graveside since October. We have made do with family zoom calls to pick her headstone, write an acknowledgement piece in our local magazine, and raise a glass to her on special dates.
We are not alone. There are families all over the world experiencing the same as us. But little is spoken about it. There is very little support, as simply, nobody knows how to make it better.
In my last conversation with my Mam, the night before she passed away, we talked about so much. We talked about the past and we talked about the future. We talked about one of her favourite songs, a song called Up To The Mountain by Patty Griffin. When she grew tired of talking, Mam asked me to put that song on. I sat by her bed, held her hand and we sat in silence as the song played and we listened to the words. I made her a promise. I promised to record the song for her and that is what I have done. Mam was one of my biggest supporters in life and we shared a love of music and song and choirs. So to be able to record this song remotely and make a music video to go alongside it has been one of the biggest challenges I have faced, both emotionally, and physically with social distancing being so important right now.
I could not let the post go without thanking Eimear Crehan who has not only been my vocal coach, but also my friend, confidante and such a big support to me during this time. Eimear has played such a big part in helping me to keep my promise to my Mam and helping me to record a song remotely. I am eternally grateful for that. And the biggest, warmest thank you and virtual hugs to Jamie Crehan of Crehan Craft for hearing me and seeing my vision and making my video come to life in ways I couldn’t have dreamt of. You are a genius.