Category Archives: Life

An evening walk in Duncannon

I spent the weekend at home in Wexford.

Before leaving yesterday (Sunday) evening, my mother (Phyl); her three eldest grandchildren, Shauna, Atlanta and Savannah; Rusty (the most blogged about dog in Wexford) and I all set off for a walk on nearby Duncannon Beach.

The wind was really strong, the tide was right in, it was freezing cold… and a lot of fun!

The sun was setting as we came back up the beach too, which made for a pretty picture – one I don’t do justice to with these photos.

Thanks as ever to my willing young models and apologies to their mother (Amy) for sending them home slightly wet and mostly covered in sand!

Footsteps in the sand (Atlanta)

Footsteps in the sand (Atlanta)

Rusty and Shauna

Rusty and Shauna

Phyl and Savannah

Phyl and Savannah

DSC_0060

Savannah

Savannah

Koala in the long grass

Koala in the long grass

Messing!

Messing

The result of said messing

The result of the messing – Savannah came off worse!

More messing!

More messing

One of the two poor dead seals we came across

One of the two poor, dead seals we came across…

And the other one

And the other one

Savannah

Savannah

Shauna on the first of the two crucial rocks for the stream crossing

Shauna on the first of the two crucial rocks for the stream crossing

Atlanta and Phyl

Atlanta and Phyl

DSC_0805

Sisters jumping!

Sisters jumping!

Looking towards the South Beach housing estate

Looking towards the South Beach housing estate

Atlanta

Atlanta and her cold face!

DSC_0771

Running down

Savannah preparing for take off

Taking flight

Atlanta taking off

DSC_0973

Granddaughter and grandmother fleeing the waves

Granddaughter and grandmother fleeing the waves as the sun disappears

Advertisements

Festive Season Odds and Ends

Here are some photos from the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. They can be broken down into roughly three sections.

Hook Head: We took a walk in Hook Head on a very wild day and it was beautiful, with waves crashing against the rocks and the foam and spray creating its very own white Christmas for the visitors braving the elements. However, I had no tripod as I lost it here on Christmas Day after leaving it behind me and, in any event, the wind was so strong it was impossible to stand still, let alone hold a camera still. In fact the first thing we heard on the radio after getting into the car to drive to the Hook was to stay away from exposed coastal areas due to extremely strong gale force winds… but we weren’t the only people ignoring that sound advice! The light was poor too, so hence the pretty awful image quality, which does not even do scant justice to the beauty of the Hook that day. I’ll get it right there some stormy day!

DSC_0608

DSC_0664

DSC_0685

DSC_0846

DSC_0782

DSC_0773

DSC_0619

DSC_0900

DSC_1040

Curracloe: Another walk. This time in my favourite place, which I have blogged about many times before on here. Again my missing tripod would have been a great help due to the low, fading light, but I took a few shots anyway. Plus, tripod or not, they would have been no match for Curracloe on a sunny day.

DSC_0154

DSC_0057

DSC_0041

DSC_0210

Round the house: These mostly involved testing my new lens by pointing it randomly at various household objects and patient relatives, as well as taking a few shots of my sister’s family – another of this blog’s regular star turns – when they came to visit.

DSC_0157

DSC_0158

DSC_0139

DSC_0199

DSC_0181

DSC_0316

DSC_0392

DSC_0186

DSC_0227

DSC_0166

DSC_0251

DSC_0241

DSC_0386

DSC_0238

DSC_0145

DSC_0378

DSC_0184

Eleanor says…

If, like me, you read a lot, then you are exposed to a huge amount of information and, as a consequence, the thoughts and words of many, many people, outside of those you encounter in “real life” or in the various forms of media and marketing that throttle us relentlessly every day.

Some of these thoughts and words are welcome, more of them are not. But, at least with reading, you can more easily exercise quality control! (The irony of that statement in here is not lost on me, dear reader)

Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you’ll come across someone whose words just resonate with you  at a really fundamental level; call it your core belief system or your heart or soul if you prefer, but whatever you call it, it’s what you truly feel and believe.

For me, no-one exemplifies this better than Eleanor Roosevelt. Her words are powerful, moving, thought-provoking and ring so true with me that when I was first exposed to them I had to go read more and more and more…

This remarkable lady is still one of the most quoted people out there, 50 years after her death. And with good reason. She was an intellectual powerhouse, with an astonishing capacity for compassion and courage.

She also possessed an extremely important and admirable attribute that I would  class as seriously lacking among us all these days: a strong social conscience. She listened to it and acted accordingly. She had many personal struggles, but they never detracted from her passionate quest for social justice.

I won’t go on too much more, as the point of this post is to let the great lady’s words speak for themselves, but I really like this short address about Eleanor Roosevelt from another former First Lady, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, and it’s really worth reading if you have a minute.

Here’s a selection of my favorite quotes, hopefully some of them may provide you with a little inspiration and possibly the urge to do a quick search and find many more and infinitely better resources to read about Eleanor Roosevelt and the most meaningful life that she led.

Eleanor says:

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.

Well behaved women rarely make history.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘” have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

One thing life has taught me: if you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.

No matter how plain a woman may be, if truth and honesty are written across her face, she will be beautiful.

Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.

Once I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: “No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.”

A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.

Do not stop thinking of life as an adventure. You have no security unless you can live bravely, excitingly, imaginatively; unless you can choose a challenge instead of competence.

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.

No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.

We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it as not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down.

Women are like teabags: you never know how strong they are until they’re put in hot water.

I have never felt that anything really mattered but knowing that you stood for the things in which you believed and had done the very best you could.

Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.

To be a citizen in a democracy, a human being must be given a healthy start.

You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.

I think that somehow, we learn who we really are and then live with that decision.

It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know. We all know people who are so much afraid of pain that they shut themselves up like clams in a shell and, giving out nothing, receive nothing and therefore shrink until life is a mere living death.

What you don’t do can be a destructive force.

Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.

I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.

In all our contacts it is probably the sense of being really needed and wanted which gives us the greatest satisfaction and creates the most lasting bond.

Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done”.

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Sometimes I think my sister is crazy

Sometimes I think my sister is crazy for having five kids.

But, mainly I’m just crazy about the kids.

And my sister is an amazing mother.

P.S. Trampolines are fun.

Gianna, Kaleb, Savannah, Atlanta and Shauna

Atlanta

Gianna

Shauna

Kaleb

Savannah, Shauna and Atlanta

Savannah

Taking off

Landing

Kaleb

Sister pyramid…

Crumbling!

Big sister, little sister

Resting

Scheming

Atlanta and Shauna

Savannah and Shauna

Atlanta and Gianna

Jumping for joy

Aeroplane

The beautiful Blake kids

The joy of youth

“I’m youth, I’m joy, I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg” – James M Barrie.

I was going through my photos last night as I tried to get my albums from this year in some sort of order and I realised that one of my favourite shots from this year was not up on this blog.

It is a photo of my niece Gianna enjoying the sea on Duncannon beach back in February as her big brother Kaleb keeps a watchful eye on her. I hadn’t planned on taking any photos that evening, but then, as I have mentioned before, that’s the great thing about phones these days, being able to capture moments like this:

Gianna, at the tender age of two, is already a great character – smart as a whip and fiercely independent. She also has that innate ability to tap into unbridled joy in the simple pleasures that seems to get harder for us all to access as the years go by.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy,” Rumi said. Which brings me neatly to one of my other favourite photos from this year, once again featuring Gianna, the youngest of my sister Amy and her husband John’s wonderful children:

Cadet David Jevens: Forfaire agus Tairiseact (Watchful and Loyal).

Cadet David Jevens

I don’t do breaking news on this blog, as this is my escape from the day job. However, I’m making an exception today because of a powerful statement that I have received from Donal and Liz Jevens.

Cadet David Jevens from Davidstown, Glynn, Co Wexford, and Captain Derek Furniss (32), from Dublin, died when their PC-9M aircraft crashed while on a military training exercise on October 12, 2009, in Co Galway.

The accident happened  just a day before David’s 22nd birthday. One of the brightest and best in the 27th Air Corps Cadet Class he was due to receive his wings in December 2009.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) carried out an investigation into the tragic accident, but the publication of this report has been delayed by an “interested party”, ultimately requiring an intervention from Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, which led to the report finally being released this morning.

The sole purpose of the investigation is the prevention of aviation accidents and incidents – not to apportion blame or liability.

Donal Jevens and his wife Liz have known the facts of the accident since a meeting with the AAIU in August 2010, but were prevented from discussing them (with anyone, even close family members) before the report was published – something which has proved a heavy burden for them.

“We want it to be known what happened our son. We find it very, very difficult that we can’t defend his honour,” Donal had told me previously. They can now defend the honour of the young Cadet and hopefully it will bring their family some small measure of solace.

You can read the AAIU report for yourself here. It is a quite technical 85-page report detailing all the circumstances surrounding the accident. I will have an extensive news report based on its findings in tomorrow’s Wexford People newspaper.

The statement from Donal and Elizabeth Jevens is below the photo of the couple at their son’s funeral.

The statement is about the death of their son and the effect it has had on his loved ones – compounded by the effect of the delay of the publication of the report. Ultimately, it’s a statement about David himself and his parents’ great love for him.

Donal and Liz Jevens

On October 13, 1987, David Jevens began life’s journey, a journey which ended tragically and abruptly on October 12, 2009.
We, his parents, have to face the almost impossible reality of not growing old with our first born child and that all the possibilities and dreams, that any parent would have for their son, will not be realised.
His brother, Christopher, and sister, Sarah, have lost a lifetime with their big brother, their mentor, their friend and their idol.
David’s girlfriend, Niamh, has lost a future of hopes, dreams and joy with David.
All David’s relations and friends have lost his friendship, his companionship and his caring and outgoing nature.
David should not be gone from us, he had his life to live, he had his dreams, aspirations and future to look forward to. All these were so cruelly taken away from him. For this reason, we just don’t feel sorrow and loss for ourselves, we feel it so much for our David.
The loss of our son David in such circumstances is a big enough cross for us to carry, but for the past 17 months, Liz and I have carried a far bigger burden.
We alone have had to live with the exact circumstances of David’s death without being able to share it with anyone.
Getting up in the morning to carry this burden is something that no parent should have to endure. In the past 12 months we have been faced with totally unnecessary delays in the process of the safety investigation.
This was the result of many attempts to frustrate the process, alter the facts and deny our son a hearing of the inevitable truth. This is something that should never be allowed to happen again.
It is our family’s sincere hope that lessons are learned from this report. We hope that changes are made so that something like this will never be repeated, so that no other parents have to endure the suffering of the loss of a son or daughter under such avoidable circumstances.
David achieved all his goals in life while showing humility and caring for others. He was an extremely proud and dedicated member of the Irish Defence Forces and the Irish Air Corps, he wore his uniform with immense pride.
It was more than just a career to him it was a true vocation. He was a dedicated, willing and committed servant of this country.
Cadet David Jevens will forever be enshrined in our memories, the memories of his many friends and his colleagues in the Defence Forces for all the right reasons.
Not a single moment goes by that he is not in our thoughts. At his grave a candle burns day and night, this is not just his memory, but for our pride in him and our love of him.
Anyone who knew David would have known that he would do the same for any of us given the circumstances.
The Air Corps motto “Forfaire agus Tairiseact” translates as “vigilant and loyal”, no greater or simpler words could encapsulate Cadet David Jevens’ character.

Super Ted

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

This post is all about sharing ideas. I spend a lot of time on the Internet, as, probably, do you.

But how much of that is quality time?

If we take the magnificent and most quotable Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement as our guide, I’d say I spend a lot of my time online reading about or discussing events and people, whether that’s Waterstone’s removing their apostrophe (terrible) or Liverpool’s Stewart Downing (He cost £20 million and still hasn’t a single goal or assist this season, but he does have one arrest – also terrible).

And then there’s Facebook, the great black hole of “average” and “small”, which can easily swallow you up. I find Twitter a tad more enlightened!

But, I do spend quite a bit of my online time with ideas too, whether that’s reading about or discussing them (I just checked my Twitter account to verify my claim and I have also been sharing a lot of ideas I’ve been reading about lately on there!).

There are some fantastic resources online and I intend to share some that I have come across and use with you in the weeks and months ahead.

I’m going to start with one of the biggest and best: Ted.

Now Ted is so successful that many of you will have heard of it and some of you will frequent it. But, if you don’t stop in every now and again or you’ve never heard of it then you’re missing out!

I would urge everyone to bookmark it. Create a new folder called “Ideas” and starting filling it up with great sites focused on ideas (I’ll help you out there).

Ted, in its own words, is about “ideas worth spreading”. It’s completely free and provides “riveting talks by remarkable people”. This is another claim I can happily verify. Some evidence here: they are short videos, please give at least a couple of them a go:

ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

rory_sutherland_life_lessons_from_an_ad_man.html (included especially for all you PR/marketing/Advertising types!)

sheila_nirenberg_a_prosthetic_eye_to_treat_blindness.html

dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

bart_weetjens_how_i_taught_rats_to_sniff_out_land_mines.html

I have watched a lot of Ted Talks at this stage and the great thing about them – apart from being hugely interesting, educational and entertaining – is that they are relatively short (the vast majority are 18 minutes or under, some are only a few minutes) and they are very accessible.

It’s not a site designed for academics, it’s a site designed for everyone. Perhaps the best thing about Ted is that learning about all those ideas can help get your own creative juices flowing and give you the kickstart you need to start coming up with some great ideas of your own.

If you watch the videos they will certainly give you a new perspective on many issues and even change your thinking, if you’re open to it.

It’s a word I don’t use often, but many of the Ted Talks are simply inspirational. At worst, they are merely engaging and interesting. So it’s not much of a risk watching one!

Ted started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design. To say it’s broadened its remit since then would be putting it mildly! Business, Science, Culture, Arts, Entertainment… there are many broad themes containing talks and ideas of all kinds.

Helpfully, there’s also a Best of the Web section featuring those great videos out there that didn’t come through Ted. Like this one with Steve Jobs:

steve_jobs_how_to_live_before_you_die.html

What really got me excited about Ted (again) today was reading about Ted 2012 “Full Spectrum”. It sounds like a dodgy action movie sequel starring a middle-aged Irish man, but it’s not.

You see Ted is “in the midst of a dramatic reinvention of the ancient art of the spoken word”.

How so? Well “Full Spectrum” refers to the “rich use of multiple technologies, formats and approaches for the most powerful possible impact on an audience”.

The speakers they have secured this year are amazing and “Full Spectrum” promises to be spectacular. The Journal.ie gives you a flavour of the speakers here  and the full list is here.

So, finally, I challenge you to try Ted for 30 days!

matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.html

Saoirse Ronan’s Underwear

So I started blogging last summer and I had no idea that WordPress sends you a helpful end of year summary.

It’s a review of the numbers that all bloggers keep an eye on in the “Site Stats” section, such as the number of views a post gets, where your “traffic” is coming from (my top referral sites were Facebook and Twitter) and  the search terms that lead people to you.

That last one, the search terms, never ceases to amaze me. Sure lots of people search for “Conor Cullen” (I know, I’m surprised too!) and a lot more don’t bother with their browser’s address bar for this site and instead stick the URL (conorcullen.com) into Google.

I thank you all for visiting, reading and sharing!

Then there are the more slightly curious search terms. Take the two photos above. They appeared in this post about my love of photography and the popular iPhone app Instagram, which I had lots of fun with last summer.

The first is a photograph I took of a poster for the film “Hanna”, starring Saoirse Ronan, which was stuck on a phone box in Ranelagh. The second photo I captured in Seville. I thought it made a striking image, but I cautioned against taking photos of people’s underwear in most circumstances!

The combination of “Saoirse Ronan” and “underwear” has subsequently become one of the most frequent search terms that has led (and still leads) people to that post and this blog. I can only imagine their disappointment!

I noticed this trend shortly after the post went up  on July 21 and it was confirmed by my “2011 in blogging” report from WordPress.

You’d be amazed how people arrive here though. Some of today’s search terms that have brought people here are: “people who had rickets”, “people walking unusually” and “weird bar counter”.

Search terms more obviously related to my posts that brought people here today were “Eoin Colfer history of Hook Lighthouse” and “why does animal cruelty continue”.

Other search terms that have caused me to raise an eyebrow since I started blogging have generally been carefully crafted by my friend and colleague Peter Henry to strike a fine balance of insulted/amused on this end!

I posted a total of 29 times in 2011 , from June, when I started blogging, to December. The only month I missed was September and that was due to a long holiday here.

I blogged about a lot of different things last year, from local festivals to the London riots, but my most popular post – by some distance – was 10 Things I Like About Dublin Bikes, which I posted back in August.

Here’s second, third, fourth and fifth in the popularity (number of views) stakes. My “busiest day” was August 11, when traffic peaked thanks to combination of the posts about Dublin Bikes and the London Riots.

Unsurprisingly, most of my readers came from Ireland, followed by the United States and United Kingdom. I’m doing okay in Australia, but have a lot of work to do before I “break” Asia and South America!

I hope to keep blogging on a regular basis in 2012. It’s not easy to find the time and often the inspiration, but it’s an enjoyable thing to do and I’d urge anyone who is thinking about it to give it a go.

I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who “follows” this blog and those who check in regularly or irregularly to see what I’m up to. Comments and feedback are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

Finally, to anyone who came here looking for Saoirse Ronan’s underwear, I’m truly sorry.

Celebrating a century

Jane Fortune at home in Ballygarrett

“I’m nearly a week into my second hundred years now,” Jane Fortune told me with a grin as I wished her a happy birthday at her home in north Wexford this morning.

Time doesn’t stand still for any of us – even when we reach the ripe old age of 100 it seems.

Jane, of Parkannsley, Ballygarrett, has had no less than four birthday parties already. The cards, of which there have been hundreds so far, continue to pour through the letterbox every day.

There was a letter of congratulations from President of Ireland Michael D Higgins too. This is a momentous occasion in almost everyone’s eyes, everyone that is except Jane.

“’I never liked a fuss and I never liked being in a crowd,” said Jane, though she admitted to enjoying her birthday parties, particularly the big family gathering in Sean Og’s of Kilmuckridge last weekend. where guests included her great great grandchildren.

Jane was the youngest of seven children born to Richard Quinsey and Ellen Bolger and is the last surviving member of that family. She has been predeceased by her husband Michael, who died in 1959, and four of her seven children.

I’ll have a full, feature-length interview with Jane in next week’s Wexford People, New Ross Standard, Enniscorthy Guardian and Gorey Guardian if you’d like to learn a little about her life and times.

It was very interesting – and a lot of fun – to meet her today, along with her grandchildren Michael, a well-known artist, and Bernadette.

I told Jane that when someone who is 100-years-old is interviewed everyone always wants to know what their “secret” is.

‘”Plenty of hunger, hardship and hard work,’” she quickly replied.

I’m letting you know just in case any of you thought adding porridge or broccoli to your diet was going to do it!

Jane hard at work in years gone by.

Jane possesses great wit, warmth and a remarkable memory. She still has an active social life and keeps busy in general. There’s a knitting project she keeps meaning to get back to once she gets new wool.

I’ll share one story from earlier on that will give you some idea of the this remarkable lady’s spirit.

When I arrived at her home (a traditional, two-up, two-down cottage that she shares with seven cats) accompanied by Michael she wasn’t worried about 100th birthday parties or interviews, she was mainly wondering where her rake was.

Michael had borrowed it and forgotten to return it again, but, on the back-foot,  he told her she couldn’t have been in that much of a hurry for it.

‘”I want to clean up all the leaves and bits outside,” she told him. A keen gardener, Jane also grows her own vegetables in the garden behind her home, from potatoes to onions and plenty in between, including the Wexford favourite: strawberries.

Jane, noting how things have moved on, recalled a time when she would have to cut the ‘”meadow’”, the large green area behind her home, with a clippers. It would take a number of visits – before and after a hard day’s work – before it would be completely done.

Michael, even though he knew better, then asked his grandmother – with more than a hint of mischief – if she reckoned she could still clip the hedge outside her home.

‘”I could,’” she assured him. “And I could clip that old hair too,’” she added swiftly, sizing up the black locks reaching for his shoulder with a twinkle in her eye.

Jane Fortune, who was born on January 6, 1912.

Jane Fortune

Pauline’s story

“In his day he had jet black curly hair and he had beautiful eyes, real chocolate-brown eyes”.

Real stories by real people make for engaging campaigns.

You can have all the statistics, experts and cartoon characters you want, but for an awareness campaign nothing comes close to the power of personal testimony.

I don’t mean the infomercial and Internet creations that we are all now programmed to tune out, along with most of the other rubbish that’s pushed relentlessly at us through various communications channels all day long.

I mean genuine and sincere testimony, one that people can connect with or – better again – can’t help connecting with, on an emotional level.

This rule applies to all organisations, from companies to NGOs, but is routinely ignored in favour of gimmicks.

People will always listen to other people first, as long as they are real people with real stories. It’s that simple. Some key communications rules are no different for social media or newspapers than they are for television or radio.

Pauline Bell, who lives in Piercestown, Wexford, tells her story, and that of her husband George, in a moving new ad for a HSE campaign to encourage people to quit smoking.

The QUIT campaign focuses on one key fact: 1 in every 2 smokers will die of a tobacco related disease. but crucially it uses real people, the words of those left behind, to bring that fact to life.

“Evidence from all over the world has shown the impact that real-life, personal stories, like Pauline and George’s, can have on smokers’ drive to quit,” said Dr Fenton Howell from the HSE, correctly diagnosing the problem with many other campaigns.

There are, of course, lots of other ways to engage people, like giving them something to enjoy, as I have discussed here, but for awareness campaigns specifically none of them pack the same punch as personal testimony.

Pauline’s honesty, love for her husband and heartbreak are palpable in the three-minute video above.

In the well shot video, the loneliness of life without George is clearly reflected, not just by her words, but by the emptiness and quietness of her home, where her husband once used to sit watching Bond films or listening to Christy Moore songs while doing the ironing.

George, a heavy smoker, was just 48 years old when he died from a heart attack while they were enjoying a holiday in Alicante just over three years ago, leaving behind not just Pauline, but their children Darragh and Rachel.

I don’t smoke, but if I did this video would give me serious pause for thought.

I spoke to Pauline earlier today and she told me she was approached the HSE to participate in the campaign after she joined their Facebook page aimed at people trying to quit smoking, currently approaching 14,000 “likes”.

Pauline said she only smoked about 20 cigarettes a week before George died. He was the much heavier smoker out of the two of them.

However, following his death she began smoking more heavily, despite the fact that this was precisely what led to him being taken from her far too early.

Grief and logic are strange bedfellows.

“I started smoking more after he died than I did before. it’s not good enough for me to say that, but for the first year I was in no man’s land, I was just about functioning,” said Pauline.

However, she said it eventually dawned on her that she had started smoking heavily and for the sake of her own health and her children she sought help to quit the habit, joining the HSE’s Facebook page for support.

“I found it was a great help, talking to other people in a similar position. I was talking to people about George too. Quitting smoking is a hard thing to do, even after a death in the family. It’s been a struggle but I’m getting there,” she said.

Click here for further info on the campaign.