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Image / Self / Real-life Stories / Parenthood

Micheál Martin talks movingly about the children he has lost, and how they will always be part of the family


by Megan Burns
09th Jun 2021

Fianna Fáil

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The Taoiseach reflects on the tragic loss of two of his children, and how he and his wife Mary managed to keep going.

Losing a child is said to be an unimaginable pain for those that have not experienced it. Taoiseach Micheál Martin has shared his experience of losing two of his five children in a heartbreaking interview with The Irish Times. 

He and his wife, Mary lost their third child, Ruairí, in 1999 to a cot death at just five weeks old, which was “utterly devastating”. He says that his first two children, Micheál Aodh and Aoibhe were the things that got them through it. “When you have children and you endure trauma like that, you have to get up the following day.”

The routine of everyday life with two young children, Martin says, means that you simply have to get on with things. “ It’s not easy, and you don’t forget, and you live with it, but you have to try and pick yourself up.” The couple went on to have two more children, Cillian and Léana, but the unthinkable happened to the family again when Léana died unexpectedly just before her eighth birthday.

You don’t want to say someone wasn’t part of our lives and our family

He says he doesn’t know how they made it through that time, but their family were instrumental. “What is very important in those situations is your wider family, who were fantastic. They pulled us through. Brothers, my twin brother especially, and Mary’s sister, Ann, they were there for us during that very, very difficult time.”

What he finds difficult, Martin says, is when people ask how many children he has. It “can be awkward for people” when he describes himself as a father of five if they aren’t aware of what happened to two of his children, “but you don’t want to say someone wasn’t part of our lives and our family.”

If you have been affected by the loss of a child, you can find support at anamcara.ie and firstlight.ie

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