Thursday 24 May 2018

'Everything we do is for her': Irish stars share what makes bond with their mother so special

(L to R) Tara Anderson and her mother Mary O'Farrell, John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret, Tracy Clifford with her mother Joan
(L to R) Tara Anderson and her mother Mary O'Farrell, John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret, Tracy Clifford with her mother Joan
John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret. Picture: Mark Condren
Tara Anderson and her mother Mary O'Farrell. Picture: Mark Condren
Model Alannah Beirne and her mother, former Rose of Tralee Brenda Hyland. Photo: Damien Eagers
Alannah Beirne and brother Tadhg Beirne at Radisson Blu, St. Helen's Hotel. Picture: Doug O'Connor
James Kavanagh, John Kavanagh, Anne Kavanagh and their parents Alan and Anne. Picture: Aaron Hurley for RSVP
Alannah Beirne and brother Tadhg Beirne at Radisson Blu, St. Helen's Hotel. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Alannah Beirne and brother Tadhg Beirne at Radisson Blu, St. Helen's Hotel. Picture: Doug O'Connor
Tracy and Joan Clifford pictured outside The Alex Hotel. Picture: Justin Farrelly
Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

It’s a special time of year for mums – whether it’s their first or their 40th, families will be gathering around to celebrate their family matriarch today for Mother’s Day.

Here, we sat down with some well known Irish people to share what makes their relationship with their mother so special.

World renowned MMA coach John Kavanagh, influencer James Kavanagh and their mother Margaret

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John and James Kavanagh with their mother Margaret. Picture: Mark Condren
 

For those who follow James on his many social media platforms, his mother Margaret often makes an appearance somewhere, whether it be on holidays or in his Dublin townhouse; while his older brother John, who trains Conor McGregor, is considerably more low-key and seems to has found his footing in the spotlight nearly by default.

Margaret fondly remembers their chalk and cheese personalities growing up, telling Independent.ie Style: “John, from the minute he was born, was an angel. He was never any trouble growing up. He slept for the first two years of his life.

“He [James] was a holy terror without the holy. He tried to get out of his cot when he was six months old and when he couldn’t get out, he’d eat the mattress,” she laughed.

“James was completely different; he was always full of life and happiest in high heels.”

One of the moments that brought the Kavanaghs closer together was when James came out as gay as a teenager, something his parents said they already knew, and an admission which disappointed him for not getting the dramatic reaction that television had taught him to expect. Instead he received unwavering support and unconditional love.

"He said to me when he came out, ‘Were you surprised?’ None of us were. He was disappointed because he didn’t get the reaction,” Margaret explains.

“John wasn’t living with us at the time, but the first thing John did the next day was hug him.”

John added that his relationship with James has also grown over the years, saying: "We don’t have any shared youth, I’d moved out when he was in his teens. From the age of 12 or 13, I didn’t speak to him until he was 20, he went through seven or eight years where I was in college and he was a bit of a terrible teen which alienated me because I didn't really like it...now we’re very close – I’d consider him one of my best friends."

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James Kavanagh, John Kavanagh, Anne Kavanagh and their parents Alan and Anne. Picture: Aaron Hurley for RSVP

Growing up in a busy house (there is a 13 year age gap between John and James and a two year age gap between John and their older sister Anne), time with mum was precious, but John found a way around that.

When asked what his favourite memory of his mother is, he says: “That’s an easy one for me. Every lunchtime, coming home when I was in DeLaSal, I would come home and mam would have a ham and cheese sandwich with some soup or something.

At half one, Neighbours would come on for 20 minutes, it was actually perfect because I’d have to leave to go back to school at 1:50; my mam would keep watch out to see if my dad was coming home because I wasn’t allowed the tv on. Usually it was just the two of us and out of the whole day, that was the only hour I got her on her own. I really looked forward to that every day.”

When asked about his favourite quality in his mother, James said: "Her openness, you could tell her anything and she’s very accepting to any type of person and different types of people. I’d never feel nervous telling her about anything that’s troubling me, but I know some people have this guard with their parents but I don’t and I’d tell mam mad things and I wouldn’t think twice as well. I think knowing that she’ll be there for me no matter what is probably my favourite thing."

Makeup artist and beauty influencer Tara Anderson and her mother Mary O’Farrell

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Tara Anderson and her mother Mary O'Farrell. Picture: Mark Condren
 

This Mother’s Day is particularly exciting for Tara because she’s expecting her first child with husband Daniel Anderson, a moment she shared first with her mother Mary O’Farrell, before anyone else.

“We weren’t expecting it, it was such a surprise. To cut a long story short, she was getting very bad headaches and was preparing to go for a scan and the doctor told her to come in immediately, so my husband and I arrived at the GP. I was expecting to hear something terrible, but instead we found out she was pregnant,” Mary proudly tells us.

Mary and Tara’s relationship has always been special, in part because of their compatible personalities and also because Tara is the baby of her three siblings.

“We always got on and shopped together and I help her out with her masterclass - we’ve always been very close,” Mary says.

Tara adds that her mother has been continuously supportive during her pregnancy and even predicted she would be having a boy before she knew it herself –call it mother’s institution.

“Because I’m the baby, I’ve always been babied. I’m getting loads of advice and tips and I’m coming to you for lots of help. She’s knitting up a storm, there’s a whole shelf or cardigans and little booties,” she says.

“She’s knitting up a storm, there’s a whole shelf or cardigans and little booties. She was knitting neutral colours from the start, I didn’t  know if I was having a boy or girl at this stage and she just started knitting blue one day, she was so certain I was having a boy.

Their bond is palpable and when I ask them their favourite qualities in one another, Tara wells up, “Mum is the most supportive person in my life, she supports me and I’d always ring her for anything, any story or gossip, I’d ring and tell my mom first. We speak to each other every day and we’re very lucky - Daniel would always say our relationship is unusual because we’re very close, I would tell her anything and always have."

“Tara is obviously very caring, she’s a treasure of a daughter, we’re very close and I’d be lost without her,” Mary responds.

Irish rugby star Tadhg Beirne, model Alannah Beirne and their mother Brenda Hyland

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Alannah Beirne and brother Tadhg Beirne at Radisson Blu, St. Helen's Hotel. Picture: Doug O'Connor

The Beirnes have success in their blood: their mother Brenda Hyland is a former Rose of Tralee in 1983 and worked as a successful model in Ireland for years, a career which Alannah has followed in. Tadhg, on the other hand, is one of the most talked about Irish rugby players after a spectacular turn in Wales over the last two years and an upcoming transfer to Munster this summer.  And he’s looking forward to being back on home soil with at least one of his three siblings.

“For a long time, it was only my little sister at home, now Alannah is back and I’ll only be an hour and a half away,” he tells Independent.ie Style. “Everything mum has done has been for her children, so for her to be able to see us do so well, she bursts with pride.”

“There was a moment at the Pro12 last year and I had the opportunity to give her a hug and she had a big grin on her face and that brought a few tears to my eye – everything we do is for her.”

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The Beirne family

Alannah, who recently appeared on Dancing With The Stars, has similar praise for her mother, describing has as her “biggest inspiration”.

“I am her number one fan and I’m proud to be following in her footsteps. She’s beautiful inside and out; that for me is what makes her so special. I love her to bits,” she explains.

“We’re similar in ways. She’s really proud and always available for any advice and has always had my back. She is the heart of the family; she brings us all together and encourages us to support each other. She’s always there for everyone.

“She’s just the rock of the family - so caring, so grounded and no matter how much we’re in the public eye, she makes sure we stay true to ourselves. When I call her, no matter the problem, I know she’ll be there in a heartbeat.”

2fm star Tracy Clifford and her mother Joan

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Tracy and Joan Clifford pictured outside The Alex Hotel. Picture: Justin Farrelly

For 2fm broadcaster Tracy Clifford, her relationship with her mother Joan can best be described as one of mutual respect and honesty; the kind of adult daughter/mother friendship most aspire to. Tracy has two younger siblings, but the seven year age gap gave her free reign in the house as a child.

So what was she like then?

“Honestly, she was a ray of sunshine. I’m not a morning person, but she’d wake up first thing, she’d come down and start talking – we used to call her the sunflower,” Joan says. “She was a bit of a trailblazer as well, you were never a conformist.

Tracy explains, "They wanted me to wear an awful confirmation outfit, but I knew I’d rather get my mam to spend money on stuff I’d like to wear so I chose to wear my uniform and get my LA Gear instead.”

The Clifford house was always a busy one, filled with lively debate, all traits which Tracy carries into her broadcasting career on the airwaves,

“You don’t watch the news in our gaff, well you don’t sit there and consume it, it’s like debate time. When we were growing up, it would be a debate between my mam and dad and later, then with me,” Tracy says.

It's only kind words that they have for one another, enjoying the benefits of a relationship steeped in honesty and good old fashioned fun - Joan often joins her daughter at gigs, including Bruno Mars' last performance in Dublin.

“I was thinking about it yesterday, we’re actually very alike, I’m learning to be a bit more patient and to listen to people’s opinions,” Joan says. “Tracy is very kind and has great empathy with people who are struggling emotionally and she’s a very good friend – if you needed her for something, she’d be a very good friend.”

Tracy adds: "I think we’re honest and with honesty, it’s warts and all. We’ve always been a family where you know when we’re having a good time, a bad time or if we’re p—d off. I thought that was the norm for everyone to be honest and talk about their feelings, that you realise every family is completely different and some families don’t talk about their feelings."

The Tracy Clifford Show airs on RTE 2fm at 1pm weekdays.

Special thanks to The Alex Hotel, 41-47 Fenian St, Dublin; Tel +353 1 6073900, www.thealexdublin.ie

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