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Mary Kennelly on Grief & Dementia, Caring & Anticipatory Grief
Mary brings a whole other perspective to the podcast with this very tender and beautiful episode.
Two ‘giants’ in her life, Fr John and Brendan were more than Uncles to Mary. They were constant forces of good, founts of wisdom and a huge part of her life. When Fr John developed vascular dementia, Mary found herself in a changing relationship with her uncle and more involved in his day to day life.
Shortly after his death, Brendan’s dementia progressed and once again, Mary found herself in a changing relationship. Her collection of poems “Into the Grey” will resonate with anyone who has ever found themselves in changing relationships, in the role of carer, or lost someone to dementia or Alzheimers.
Through poetry and chat, we explore this ambiguous loss that often has close loved ones on their knees with exhaustion.
Mary’s story resonated with me on a deep level, having lost my father in March 2021, also with dementia. Her book moved me greatly and I highly recommend getting your hands on this treasure. Please buy directly from the Nursing homes (link below) who took amazing care of Fr John and Brendan, and who need the money to fix their roof!
Mary hails originally from Ballylongford, Co.Kerry, although she’s lived in Glin with Gus and their children Ruth, Matthew and Caleb for many years. She has worked in Education but also in the Arts for over thirty years. She published her first collection of poetry 25 years ago.
Her previous collections include ‘Sunny Spells,Scattered Showers’, ‘From the Stones’, ‘Catching Bats Takes Patience’ and ‘Splinters’.
‘Into the Grey’ is a collection that follows her journey living with the impact of dementia on her two uncles, Fr. John Kennelly and the poet Brendan Kennelly and on the family who loved them.
The book was written as a way of dealing with the grief caused by living decline but also as a thank you to the staff who cared for John and Brendan in their nursing homes.
All profits from ‘Into the Grey’ will be shared by Our Lady of Fatima Home, Tralee, Co. Kerry and Aras Mhuire Nursing Home, Listowel, Co Kerry.
Both Nursing homes provide an exceptional standard of care to the residents who make their home with them and an exceptional standard of supports to the families of those residents.
Founded by the Dominican Sisters, Our Lady of Fatima home in Tralee, currently provides a home to 66 residents, including many priests and nuns. It has recently undergone a significant expansion so all funds from the sale of the book will be gratefully received
Arás Mhuire was built with a grant from the society of St Vincent De Paul in 1970 and has had to actively fundraise since it’s inception. Arás Mhuire are hoping to put the funds from the sale of the book towards roof repairs and the building of a storage space.
Link to purchase ‘Into the Grey’ directly from the nursing home