Fiona Cassidy

Fiona Cassidy
Author, Mother, Thirty Something...

Sunday, 23 January 2011


There is a well known saying in life that states that 'a friend in need is a friend indeed'....unfortunately, however, not everyone agrees and if someone's in trouble or feeling down and lonely they'd rather deal with their own feelings of discomfort than try to offer any support therefore how lucky am I to have the best bunch of mates in the world...ever...who literally rally around me in times of need!

Times have been tough lately between ill health, problems of a personal nature and life in general just being crap (I could use a variety of stronger words believe me but I'll refrain cos I'm a writer and supposed to have a repetoire of 'proper' words.) Of course stupid cars that don't work, laptops that nosedive off seats all by themselves (according to the mad four year old)resulting in broken screens and spiralling out of control blood sugars don't help! However I'm friends, like my man and my wonderful children are my rocks and I'm so very very lucky to have them!

I was having a particularly tough day on Friday and was basically telling my friend Carrie-Ann (who is a little gem) how down I was feeling and next thing by magic a little quote appeared on my Facebook page from her which really touched me and was so appropriate....

And here it new motto in life from now on...

There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the good. So, love the people who treat you right and Pray for the ones who don't. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of LIFE...Getting back up is LIVING

Carrie Ann, Rachel, Claire A, Joanna, Nells, Kat, Edel and the rest of the posse thanks for always being there and for having spectacularly bendy ears when I need are superstars and I love you all to bits and once I produce this babby we are definitely going to have a night out....FACT!!!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Happy Birthday Colm...

I am officially in shock folks...I am the mother of a sixteen year old!!! Of course I am the world's youngest mammy as I had him when I was four and am not a day over 21...ahem! Oh well alright then spoil sports...I actually had him when I was eighteen and had my place secured in Napier University, Edinburgh for a degree in Newspaper Journalism after sitting my the time the thought of having a baby and missing out on the opportunity to continue my studies and live life on the wild side like all my friends filled me with fear but I have to say that sixteen years on I wouldn't swap my big fella (who is now taller than me) for the world! I love him more than life itself and in many ways he did me a big favour by deciding to turn up when he did!

I am not for a moment advocating teenage pregnancy (before you all jump on me from a great height for being a bad and irresponsible influence) but Colm's arrival meant that my life went in a completely different direction than it may have done if my original plan had come to fruition! For a start I doubt if I would have had my gorgeous daughter Una, I also doubt that I would have ever met Philip, who is the absolute love of my life (stop telling me not to be hormones are firing on all cylinders...I'm allowed!) which means that I wouldn't have my precious Aine or my current bump nor would I have had the opportunity to meet and bond with his children and to boot I may have actually succeeded in my chosen career path and been a newspaper journalist as opposed to an author and wouldn't be sitting writing this blog now....whew...isn't my son a brilliant lad altogether for arriving when he did!!

I am a great believer in things happening for a reason and life being mapped out for you and am very thankful to the man in the sky for giving me my wonderful firstborn son as he means the world to me...of course he has his moments where I could cheerfully knock him out for not tidying his room, constantly fighting with his sister (who he loves really...they can't fool me), not knowing where the dishwasher is and being under the mistaken belief that his clothes are magic and therefore capable of making their own way to the laundry basket...but what can I say...he is a teenage boy and I'd probably die of shock and want to take his temperature to diagnose illness were he suddenly to turn into a clean freak who was willing to wear ordinary clothes minus a designer logo...sorry didn't I mention the penchant for anything with a label on it...if it ain't Henley's, Haywire or Crosshatch these days we do not want to George or Cherokee or Peacocks will do anymore...noooo sirreee God forbid a top might cost less than 20 quid!!!

Happy birthday to my big man who has brought such joy and comfort to me over the years and who is the apple of his Granda's eye (well, growing up with an only girl it's only natural that he would be delighted with a wee man who would become his shadow over the years!)

Love you son xxx

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A Fond Farewell to a National Treasure

We've all heard of female celebrities, Cheryl Cole, Holly Willoughby and the likes, who through hard work, endearing personalities and a good relationship with the public have earned themselves the coveted title of 'National Treasure' but in my humble opinion Ireland has just lost one of its finest treasures which is a fitting description for this lady as her father has constantly referred to her as 'a little gem' since her tragic and untimely death on Monday.

I didn't know Michaela Harte very well but our paths had crossed in the past as we had attended several local weddings together (where she was subjected to a particularly rowdy swing by Philip during a ceili dance where the guests danced the Walls of Limerick), I had seen her at football matches (most notably in Croke Park at the Semi-Final between Armagh and Tyrone in 2005 where Tyrone thrashed their opponents and went on to beat Kerry and bring Sam home) and my partner had met her at a parent teacher meeting for one of his children who attends St. Patrick's Academy in Dungannon where Michaela taught both Religion and Irish. On all these occasions we both decided that she was a very down to earth, nice, modest girl. I don't know what we were expecting but as the daughter of one of Ireland's leading football managers who was becoming a celebrity in her own right as a former Ulster Rose of Tralee and personality I suppose you could be forgiven for thinking that such a girl might have a few tickets on herself but this was refreshingly not the case.

I, like the rest of the country, was submerged into shock, dismay and intense sadness when I heard the news of Michaela's sudden and unexplained death on Monday whilst on her honeymoon and was plunged even deeper into despair yesterday when it became apparent that foul play had taken place and she was strangled in her hotel room. It beggars belief that something like this could happen in the first place to anyone but for it to happen to someone known to us all is even more devestating and hard to deal with. News this morning indicates that arrests have been made and we can only hope and pray that the perpetrators of such a senseless crime are brought to justice.

I think, certainly here in Tyrone and also in GAA footballing circles, Michaela was probably best known for her close and mutually adoring relationship with her father Mickey Harte (pictured above with Michaela and her brother celebrating a Tyrone victory) as well as her passion for the game and cameraderie with the players. Public reaction regionally, nationally and internationally to her untimely demise has been intense as although we knew she was a popular and well liked young woman I don't think she realised quite how many people she touched during her short life. We all know how hard it is for teachers to gain the respect and admiration of their students but you only have to look at the online book of condolences and the number of appraising comments from her former St. Patrick's Academy pupils to see that she certainly made a big impression and was much loved.

I watched the six o'clock Northern Ireland news yesterday from behind a tear stained cushion as I listened to her heartbroken father talk about how much he loved his special wee girl and saw the pain etched across the faces of her brothers as they held him up and supported him. As an only daughter who shares a close relationship with her father the impact of such a tragedy and in such horrific circumstances doesn't bear thinking about and we can only hope that the thoughts and prayers of the nation will bring them some comfort at this terrible terrible time.

We must also spare a thought for her new husband, John McAreavey, who must be in a living hell at this moment...miles from home in a foreign country where he doesn't know anybody trying to deal with the shock of losing the girl who only became his wife ten days before she was murdered. I am sure that they had spent their time talking about good times to come and planning their future together which makes Michaela's death all the more distressing.

Events like these certainly put life in perspective. Who are we to complain about having troubles when the Harte and McAreavey families are suffering through the hardship of losing a much loved daughter and daughter in law in the prime of her life in such horrendously sad and difficult circumstances.

As someone with a strong faith and great belief in angels I can only comfort myself with the notion that Michaela certainly earned her wings in this life and is now above us all trying to help her family, friends, colleagues and students deal with their grief.

Rest in Peace Michaela, wee gem.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

God...but I hate pricks

Well folks,

As you have probably guessed my life hasn't become any easier but I can assure you that a) I haven't started using recreational drugs in an effort to make myself feel better b) I haven't begun a quest to start saving drug users from injecting themselves as a distraction and c) I'm not sticking a needle in myself as an equivalent to pinching my arm to check if everything happening at the moment is real.......nope it's actually much simpler than all that...last week after several bouts of tests I've been diagnosed with gestational diabetes which is something that can develop in pregnancy but that hopefully will leave afterwards.

What this condition means is that my body is unable to process the sugar in my blood therefore through controlling my diet and possibly going on insulin I should be able to combat this situation. However, it does increase the size of the baby as it is getting a brilliant supply of sugar from me and means that I will probably end up giving birth in February as opposed to March when it was planned! Oh yes...and given the fact that I am five foot nothing and have a tiny pelvis I'd appreciate it if said babby didn't grow too much bigger as I'd like to deliver it naturally if at all possible! You've all seen the film 'Look Who's Talking' with Kirsty Alley and John Travolta...well here's a wee quote from Kirsty to John when he's being flippant about her giving birth..."why don't you try squeezing a watermelon out of an opening the size of an orange and see how you feel" which point he suggests he better start ringing his mother more often....ahem!

I have to get my blood checked every week at the hospital I'm due to give birth in and have changed consultants now as well as having to see diabetic specialists, dieticians and a diabetic nurse....great craic...oh and lest I forget to mention the really fun bit I have to check my blood eight times a day before and after eating with a finger pricker whilst recording all the results.

I HATE NEEDLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've never been fond of giving blood or having injections but having given birth to three children already it's something I've had to begrudgingly get used to (whilst pulling the arm out of the chair I'm sitting on or alternatively Philip...whoever happens to be closest) therefore we are not impressed with this latest development even though everybody else seems to think that it's highly amusing that I have to stamp my foot, have a stern conversation with myself (out loud) and breathe deeply in the manner of a WBA wrestler in order to psyche myself up for the procedure!

The running joke between Philip and myself has become "but it's only a wee prick darling." Which is then my cue to say "but darling you know as well as I do that I only like big pricks."

But anyway for all my moaning and complaining I do realise that it is necessary, and for the sake of my precious wee cargo I will do anything in order to keep it healthy and well and ensure that it comes into the world having had the best start possible, so I shall bear the brunt of all the tests, extra trips to the hospital and the radical diet that means I'm bereft of my chocolate fix (cue large sniff in order to ward off bout of hormonal chocolate deprived crying.)

My only consolation is that at least this annoying prick serves a useful purpose and is helping me and my little baby as I can assure you that there are other pricks in this world (of the human variety) who seem to live off hurting and aggravating people...but that would be a whole other blog entirely and one which might see me transgress from being a romantic comedy writer to one who writes books of a pychologically disturbing nature that could give Stephen King a run for his money in the horror stakes!!

But don't worry I have no intention of doing any such thing as through every trial and tribulation I will endeavour to remain positive, count my blessings for the good things in life and keep you all laughing.....right...time for another pre-lunch jab I think...oh the joys!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

And I'm lovin' Angels instead....

This is a photo of my mantlepiece and as you can see I am more than a little fond of collecting angels, fairies and all things pretty (and scented if you include my Glade candle.) I have always loved angels but in the past few years have become even more attached to them probably as I had a miscarriage in February 2009 and in order to remember my wee baby I bought a chain and an angel pendant which I never remove.

Not everyone believes in angels which is something that I understand and respect and I would never try to shove my theories down anyone else's throat but I do think that it is very comforting to think that there are higher powers out there who help and carry us when times get tough (their arms must be tired luggin' me around everywhere I can tell you!) It is said that everyone has a guardian angel and when I ponder on everything I've been through in my life to date I do think that someone has definitely been watching over me and guiding me! I could, of course, take the attitude that perhaps they weren't doing their job as well as they could have but as I'm a positive person I'd rather believe that they got me through the worst of it whilst allowing me to learn some valuable life lessons in the process!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

My gorgeous girls...

Just had to share this with you! I always wanted to have two little girls who I could dress the same but had given up hope of ever being able to pull it off until I discovered these beautiful dresses on the proud was I on Christmas Day?

Sending off a wish and a prayer...

My sister-in-law recently told me about a lovely tradition whereby the Chinese send off their wishes and dreams into the stars by way of a paper lantern which is lit and floats into the sky carrying with it your prayers for the future! We've lit a few in the past few months and I like to think of it as sending my troubles away which is very comforting (on second thoughts if you know how random and manic my life is you're probably wondering why a hot air balloon or 500 tonne space craft isn't the carrier of choice?!)

We lit the last one on New Year's Eve and hopefully all our aspirations and hopes for 2011 were successfully transported with's hoping!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Three wise men...two donkeys...and a cat?!

Christmas like every other time of the year in my home is mad and full of unexpected surprises therefore it shouldn't come as a shock to you that I'm posting up a photograph of my crib complete with a kitten in the straw...

To start at the beginning...'the cat' as we shall call her for now arrived in our garden half starved and shivering in the worst snow that I believe northern Ireland has seen in twenty five years so you'll understand why 'we' (word used loosely) felt compelled to invite it into our home, feed it, buy it cat litter, give it a blanket and treat it like a little princess. I say that 'we' weren't entirely impressed as I'm already visualising the madness that bringing another baby into the world will cause therefore the thought of becoming surrogate mammy to a kitten wasn't exciting me! I actually do like cats but the timing just wasn't quite right! Anyway...I didn't really get a say (even though it's my house) because the children fell in love with it therefore I had to begrudgingly accept my utility room was going to be doubling up as a cattery for the forseeable future!

As for Aine (mad four year old) she is completely obsessed by the cat and spends all her time pulling it and poking it and trying to manoevre it into all sorts of obscure positions with the result that the poor animal favours the back of our televsion unit as a hidey hole as opposed to the utility room whilst everyone else in the house wanders around with their hands in the air saying 'leave the feckin cat alone' with varying degrees of meance in their tones depending on the time of day, how many times the incident has occured before and how innocent the pigtailed culprit tries to look whilst trying to blame everyone else!

And the best part is that (as you can plainly see) the cat is predominantly black yet my children have seen fit to call it Snowy...because it arrived in the snow Mammy duuuuhhhhhh.....

Our furry friend has become quite an established member of the household at this stage but unfortunately is still going to have to go elsewhere! On second thoughts, though, perhaps we should keep her as she seems to be bringing us a certain degree of luck as since she came to us several little windfalls have come our way so perhaps it is true what they say...a black cat crossing your path is lucky or in our case snowy!!