'You are not who your parents are' - Carlow Rose and her mother reveal how addiction impacted their family
Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey says she hopes to 'make an impact in people's lives and inspire people' with her life story.
Shauna (24) gave a powerful interview during the first televised final of the Rose of Tralee on Monday night in which she revealed that her parents, late father Francis Lacey and her mother Angie Ray, had struggled with heroin addiction.
Viewers were hugely impressed by Shauna who told host Daithi O Se that the birth of her own daughter Emmy (3) was a turning point in her mother's recovery.
"[My mother] said, 'I wasn't in your life but I will be in Emmy's life'," she said. Shauna dedicated her performance of Aslan's 'Crazy World' to her father Francis, who died five years ago, and who had been a fan of the Dublin band.
Speaking after the show, Shauna said she was not nervous telling her story, but she was a "bit emotional".
"A lot of the girls wouldn't have known my background," she said of her fellow Roses. "I wanted to share my story with everybody that's watching and inspire young women and anybody watching that they don't necessarily have to choose the path their parents go down and 'monkey see, monkey do' kind of thing."
She added, "I was just so happy I got to share my story with everybody and I hope I make an impact in people's lives and inspire people."
While she spoke eloquently about her father, she said she felt "very emotional" when she was singing, because "I just kind of played it back in my head, being in the car driving places, and just having Aslan blaring on and him looking at me, [singing] 'this crazy world' so that was probably the most emotional part of it. Afterwards I had a little cry."
Shauna is a deputy manager at Boylesports bookmakers having previously studied Year 1 of Beauty Therapy at CIFE and completed a TEFL course which helped her to educate business entrepreneurs in communication skills.
Her mother Angie (45), who will be four years clean in February, was in the festival dome to support her daughter. Speaking after the show, she said she was "so proud" of Shauna, and she revealed that she turned to heroin at a low point in her life.
"I had an alcohol problem and when I was about 23/24 things started getting a little bit bad," she revealed. "I was partying for a while. At 31 I found heroin. I was actually lost at that point in my head. I found it very hard to cope with just your daily things. It's so easy to access it and it took away any pain or any feeling. I felt horrible. I felt like a bad parent."
Angie revealed that she tried to keep her addiction a secret as Carlow is such a small town. Now, however, she is proud that Shauna has spoken out.
"You are not who your parents are," she said. "The freedom to speak your mind and to feel like you're not being judged at all is the most powerful thing. I'm speechless, absolutely speechless and for that feeling of 'I don't care who judges me anymore' the freedom of that alone is amazing. I'm so proud of her."
She said she had "no reservations" about Shauna sharing their story on the Rose of Tralee stage. However, Shauna said she did not initially intend to raise the issue of addiction.
"Initially I didn't want to use the Rose of Tralee as a platform for it, I wanted to just celebrate the women and have the banter with the girls and celebrate our Irish heritage and Irish diaspora," she said, adding, "I'm happy it did kind of come out that way. I'm happy now I'm going to inspire people hopefully."
Her advice to children and young adults living with parents who are struggling with the disease of addiction is to "never give up".
"At the end of the day it has to be the parent's decision. You can't do it. You do it for yourself," she said, adding to her mum, "You did it for yourself, to be there for us. I suppose kids living with it - just reach out for resources."
Angie also revealed that she hopes to now "be able to help".
"That's my goal, to advocate for women," she said.
The Rose of Tralee continues on RTE One tonight at 8pm.