Wednesday 23 May 2018

Incredible mum (46) who reared younger siblings and now cares for son with special needs hailed a hero

'For me it’s all about my family. I wouldn’t change them for the world'

From left to right: Margaret Finlay, Breda Kelly (Trish's sister), Eoin Rowley, Trish Rowley and Jason Rowley.
From left to right: Margaret Finlay, Breda Kelly (Trish's sister), Eoin Rowley, Trish Rowley and Jason Rowley.
Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A mother-of-two who cared for her two younger sisters when their father died, and now cares for her son with special needs, has been hailed a hero.

Trish Rowley (46) from Naas, Co Kildare, a recipient of a Special Recognition Award at this year’s Hidden Hearing Hero awards, lost her father when she was 23.

Her two younger sisters Marion, then aged 11, and Breda, then aged seven, came under her care, and Trish and her then-boyfriend Jason raised the girls as their own.

“My dad died in 1994. I’ve an older brother and a few sisters as well. I was 23 and had been living in my dad’s house, so the girls just lived with me and Jason.”

Five years after her father died, Trish and Jason’s son Conor was born. When he was two months old, Conor began to have seizures.

Conor, who has epilepsy and global developmental delay, cannot walk or talk and he has been peg fed since he was six years old. He requires 24/7 care, and he is now receiving palliative care.

“In 1999, we had built our own house next to the family home, and we had Conor my oldest boy in March. He started to have small seizures when he was two months old. Over the next two years we were in and out of Crumlin a lot.”

As well as caring for Conor, Trish also cares for her two elderly uncles.

But she told today: “Even though I got the Hidden Hearing award, for me it’s all about my family. I wouldn’t change them for the world.”

“Conor is my hero. He really has been through a lot.”

“He needs help with everything, from brushing his teeth, to washing, to being hoisted in and out of bed. He’s full care 24 hours a day."

“I only do what mammy’s are supposed to do,” she said.

“It’s hard for any parent to watch your child being in pain, but you just get through it, and the sun rises for another while.”

“I just do what any mam does. For me he’s truly amazing. For all he goes through, he’s 24-hours-a-day care, a nurse could look after him, but I need him more than he needs me because I love him so much.”

Conor celebrated his 18th birthday this year.

“His 18th birthday was in March and it was a huge milestone. We had a big family dinner for it.”

“He hasn’t been in school for the last two years. He was supposed to go to adult services but he’s not well enough to go, so Sky Movies is our best friend, and he’s my supervisor,” Trish joked.

“Immunity wise, he’d catch all the bugs and everything, and we just try our best to keep him well.”

Trish paid tribute to her mother-in-law Ailish, and other family members, especially Conor's brother Eoin, who help to take great care of Conor.

“Sometimes I think siblings of children with special needs have a lot to deal with as well. Eoin takes everything in his stride. He’s amazing. There are times we’d have something planned and I’d have to cancel things and he just goes with it.”

"We couldn't go on a family holiday this year because Conor is not well, so Jason brought Eoin down for a day to Tramore and things like that."

The heroic mother says she also has a special bond with her sisters Breda and Marion, who are now both married.

“The two girls are amazing. They look out for our two boys. And we meet up to go shopping and things like that. We're very close.”

Trish received her Special Recognition Award at the 2017 Hidden Hearing Hero awards last Monday.

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