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22nd Mar 2022

Micheál Martin didn’t think he would “smile again” after loss of children

Jade Hayden

Micheál Martin spoke about his loss on a recent podcast.

*This story contains reference to child loss. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said “you will smile again” following the loss of a child.

Speaking on Doireann Garrihy‘s The Laughs of you Life podcast, the Taoiseach recalled the passing of his two children, Ruairí and Léana, and how he thought he would “never laugh again.”

Ruairí passed away from cot death in 1999 at just five weeks old, and Léana died aged seven due to heart problems in 2010.

“When Ruairí died, we got lots of supportive comments, callers and people writing to us,” Martin said. “I remember reading a letter from a teacher who had gone through something similar.”

He went on: “I’ll just say this in case there is anybody listening in a similar situation. At the end of the letter was, ‘don’t worry, you will smile again.’

“It seemed an odd thing to read and it was something I didn’t believe when I read it. But it’s true, you do learn to smile again and you will smile again. But at that time, you have no sense that you ever will.”

Martin added that everyone will deal with grief in different ways, but that “bit by bit, you come back.”

“The most fundamental thing in life is you do have to get up the next morning,” he said. “You do get up. After Ruairí, Micheál Aodh, Cillian and Aoibhe were very young. They had to have their breakfast.

“We had to get up and we had to make sure that they had their life, notwithstanding what happened. Children are far more observant than you think, they know the mannerisms of their parents. They know something’s wrong.”

Martin spoke last year of how the passing of his children “changed” him. Speaking on RTÉ’s The Brendan O’Connor Show, he said that he suffered a lot of anxiety as the “certainties of life” were gone.

“We all have personal experiences in life,” he said. “It does give me a sense, I think, of the finality of when death occurs in a family, the devastation that occurs to a family.”

If you have been affected by any of the details of this story, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123.