ANY family will tell you that having three children under the age of 10 makes the notion of peace and quiet an alien concept.
The combination of television cartoons blaring, computer games bleating, and children's voices singing and shouting, fill most family homes with non-stop noise from sunrise to sundown.
But there was a time when Roisin and Jim Mahony's lives were suffused with the seemingly unending silence that follows the sudden death of a baby.
Their son Shane was nine months old when he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He would have been 12 years old this month.
For the past two years, Roisin and Jim, who live in Kildare, have been organising a 100-mile charity walk to commemorate Shane and to raise funds for the Irish Sudden Infant Death Association (ISIDA).
"It's not a charity you see much," says Roisin, just back from the school run. People are almost superstitious about it.
"People don't fundraise because they are afraid of it. We know too well."
One family a week in Ireland loses a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The incidence has declined from a rate of two in every 1,000 live births throughout the 1980s to 0.8 in every 1,000 live births up until 2000, but it is still the leading cause of deaths in babies aged four weeks to one year.
Like most parents, Roisin and Jim had never heard of the ISIDA until their first-born, Shane, died suddenly while Roisin's mum and step-dad were babysitting.
The ISIDA has played a huge part in Roisin and Jim's lives since Shane died.
"The counselling service really helped us," says Roisin.
"I'd hate to think of another family not getting the support. I'd hate to think where we'd be had we not had them.
"We were quite young when Shane died. He died a week after my 21st birthday. I didn't know much about cot death."
In the initial stages of her grief, Roisin says she simply wasn't interested in talking to anyone.
"I didn't want to know, but my step-dad and my mam had gone to counselling because they had been babysitting at the time."
When she hit a rough patch a few months after Shane's death, she decided to try the service.
"There's a friendship that builds.
"I never felt I was lifting the phone to a stranger. They get to know the people they're dealing with. I always say we're a club, a club that no one wants to be in, but the one place where somebody else understands where I'm at.
"I've always felt a closeness with the people who are there."
There is a stigma attached to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, mainly because of how difficult it is to talk about the death of a baby.
And people are frightened by how randomly it strikes.
"There's no reason for it," says Roisin. "You can't prepare, there's no injection you can take to prevent it; it happens to random people."
Naturally, people are frightened to discuss it for fear of upsetting bereaved parents.
"I was talking to friends after it happened to us," says Jim, "and we discovered their mother had a baby who died. But it was brushed under the carpet, nobody spoke of it. The clothes were taken out of the house immediately."
In what he describes as typical 'bloke' fashion, Jim didn't take part in the counselling service provided by the ISIDA as much as Roisin did but he still finds the association an invaluable help.
"Over the years I've had people to talk to when I needed to. The girls in the ISIDA have all been through it."
Jim and Roisin went on to have more children. "We have been very fortunate to have three more wonderful children – James (9), Sinead (7), and Darragh (2) – who know all about their older brother who was once with us," says Roisin.
But along with the joy of having children after Shane, there also came a lot of fear and worry. Were they more nervous with their subsequent children as a result of what they had been through with Shane?
Roisin admits the whole family was nervous when James, their next boy, came along.
"He was wrapped in cotton wool. It was a different feeling. I checked on him a lot when he was in bed, more so than normal, but I also tried to pull back the reins as I didn't want to be too intense.
"We tried to be realistic about it. We can't go on thinking and worrying and having sleepless nights."
Jim agrees. "We sat beside James every night and stuck a finger under his nose to check. He was fairly spoiled because of that."
Coming up to the nine-month mark was always difficult, says Roisin.
"Come that age, it was a milestone for us. I always felt I have to get them to nine months and they'll be okay.
"When it came to nine months in, we would have been very nervous and we never moved any of them into their own room until they were a year old.
"I couldn't let them be in another room until they were past the nine months."
By the time their daughter Sinead came along two years later, Roisin says she had relaxed a little and was not overly concerned.
However, when their third child, Darragh, arrived, Roisin was surprised to discover how much he looked like his late brother Shane. She was also surprised at the effect that had on her and Jim.
"When Darragh was born, he was the one I worried most about. I got post-natal depression.
"Darragh is the spitting image of Shane in every way, so that in itself added to it. He looked just like him, and personality-wise they were similar.
"I was more nervous about him. You think things are okay, but it's always there in the background.
"Your life never goes back to normal. It can affect so many different parts of your life."
The largest number of Sudden Infant Death cases occurs between the 2 and 3 month age group. Was nine months unusually old for a cot death?
"I remember when Shane died someone said nine months is old," says Rosin, "but it's very hard to put an age on it, because there's no reason why it happens, no knowledge of why. I've heard of it happening to children as old as a year and a half or older."
Is there any way of coming to terms with such a tragedy? "There are times when you just can't," says Roisin.
"There are a lot of times when I feel it's as raw as if it's just happened, even though all these years have passed. Sometimes your mind doesn't pass the same way as time does and it can play up on you.
"There are days when I have a bad day, apart from birthdays, Christmases that are upsetting times anyway. There are times when I get upset and I really miss him."
This year's 100-Mile Walk for Baby Shane takes place on September 24 (what would have been Shane's 12th birthday) and starts in Clane, Co Kildare, finishing on Rosslare Strand on Saturday September 28.
Jim says his reason for doing the walks is not simply to honour his son's memory but to help others who might be going through a similar experience but who may not be as far down the road as he and Roisin are. He hopes their story will give others strength.
"If there is somebody out there that sees this article and is in the early days and they can see us, down the line, with our family doing stuff in Shane's memory . . .
"At the time, you don't see it. There's nothing within those first few years. You don't see light at the end of the tunnel. We've heard of families crumbling – completely breaking down from it and I think we both made a pact to stick together because of it.
"We had just put a deposit down on our first house. He died in June and we moved-in in August."
The route for the walk has changed every year and each year the route holds some significance for the family.
"Rosslare was our getaway place," says Jim. "The year Shane died, Roisin's parents bought a caravan in the park and we went there the week after Shane died so it means something to walk there."
Even though Jim and Roisin have friends and family along on the walk with them, there are times of quiet reflection, where each person is alone with their thoughts.
In many ways it sounds like a pilgrimage. I wonder what is going through their heads when they are walking those 100 miles.
"Everybody takes something different from each walk," says Roisin. "It's a strange week. You'll feel every emotion between having great craic in the middle of nowhere and happiness and laughter, but then there's a very lonely side of it and a heart-breaking side.
"There's one day in the week where I struggle and that's because that day is about him [Shane]. I get very angry, sad and upset. What gets everyone through the week is we don't always hit the same emotions at the same time. So while I might have a bad day, my brother, sister or Jim is there for me and we just keep going."
For more information see www.isida.ie or log on to http://bit.ly/100milewalk