Mum's the Word

The Truth About Motherhood

Thirty-Five Women Thirty-Five Mothers Thirty-Five Extraordinary True Life Tales Ireland’s top women writers share their real life experiences in one amazing book.

Thought-provoking, shocking, funny, sad and searingly honest, some of Ireland’s finest writers have poured their hearts onto the page in this astonishing collection.

With incredible tales of motherhood by Cathy Kelly, Anne Enright, Julie Parsons, Sinead Moriarty, Martina Devlin, Kate Thompson, Kate Holmquist, Marita Conlon-McKenna and Morag Prunty amongst others, this collection is a stunning testament to the modern day mother-child bond and what it really means to be a mother.

Including an introduction by Jenny Kelly and Mairead Farrell from Today FM; and a heart-rendering story from Saffa Musleh, winner of the Ireland Am/Mothercare writing competition, this book will make you laugh, cry and most of all, understand the true meaning of motherhood.

The authors have kindly donated 100% of their royalties to cystic fibrosis research at the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght.


Background to the Book (Website Exclusive)

This is a book I edited and compiled to raise funds for cystic fibrosis research. I didn’t know much about cystic fibrosis until 2005, the year my great friend, Carolyn had her third baby, Matthew. Her second child, Andrew died when he was one week old, so Matthew was a very special baby. But from the start he wasn’t a well child.

When he was eight months old Matthew spent three weeks in Tallaght Hospital and eventually they discovered what Carolyn had suspected from quite early on. Matthew had cystic fibrosis. She rang me from the hospital to tell me the news and I had no idea what I to say. I just wanted to give her a hug. After putting down the phone I immediately rang my mum. One of mum’s friends had lost an eight-year-old daughter to CF and as tears flooded down my face she explained the reality of the disease to me. I kept picturing little Matthew’s perky face with his bubble curls; it was difficult to believe he was really so sick.

That evening I started to trawl the internet for information on CF. I found out that it is Ireland’s most common life-threatening genetically inherited disease and that Ireland has the highest incidence of CF in the world. It’s a disease that affects the glands and damages the lungs, disestive tract and the reproductive system. People with CF are prone to constant chest infections and malnutrition. I also found that there is no specialised building in Ireland to treat CF patients; as adults, they are lumped in with all the respiratory patients in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin.

Then quite by chance I met Orla Tinsley. I was talking to the pupils in the Temple Street Hospital School on World Book Day a few years ago and Orla happened to be there. We got talking and she allowed me to read some of her work. It was astonishing. Raw, intense, full of vivid imagery. It was about being a teenager with CF and I’ve never forgotten it. And I was delighted when Orla agreed to write a piece for this collection, I Have a Mother, She is Mine. She’s a talent to be reckoned with.

I wanted to do something small to raise funds for cystic fibrosis research and also to raise awareness of a disease that touches so many Irish families either directly or indirectly. All over Ireland women like Carolyn are looking after children with cystic fibrosis on a daily basis. Banging their backs, trying to make them eat their enzymes, darting in and out of hospital, all while trying to stay cheery and upbeat, often while looking after other children too. So I decided to put together this collection, with the support of my writer friends, the good people at New Island, and Conor Byrne at Tallaght Hospital.

This book is dedicated to Carolyn because despite everything, she is one of the most upbeat and positive people I know. And she’s one hell of a mother and that’s what gave me the original idea for Mum’s the Word: a book about real motherhood in all its glory.


Mum’s the Word will make you laugh, nod in agreement and reduce you to sobbing tears all in the one day. Love, longing and loss – it’s all here. A must have read for mothers. Sunday Tribune

Each story has something unique to impart. Irish Mail on Sunday

A superb read. Reading this book is probably the nearest you'll ever get to 34 of your "closest" women friends telling you their deepest thoughts and feelings on their most intimate of personal experiences. Irish Independent

A superb read . . . truly remarkable. Irish Independent