Anne Tiernan: ‘Me, Tommy and our siblings find a lot of humour in talking about childhood, even talking about mum. Something like that brings you together’

After years of struggling with her mental health and alcoholism, Anne Tiernan’s mother took her own life. Here the debut author talks about her close bond with her brother, the comedian Tommy Tiernan, and how writing helped her process their family tragedy

Irish author Anne Tiernan as a child with her siblings Niamh, Brian and Tommy and with her mum Helen

Tanya Sweeney

It was an innocent question, posed by her middle child, that gave Anne Tiernan pause for thought. “He said, ‘Mummy, why didn’t you grow up to be anything?’” Tiernan says, laughing at the memory. “I was reaching a stage where if I wiped the bloody kitchen bench down one more time, I would lose my mind. I had to do something with my brain. It was now or never.”