Mums of the year share a name, and a passion to help

They share a surname but, at first, it seems there is little else in common between Drogheda mum Olive Duffy, and Boyzone wife Lisa Duffy.

A peep at their private lives, however, reveals each in her own way has helped break down barriers on painful and uncomfortable issues.

Lisa, named Celebrity Mum of the Year yesterday, is a campaigner and fundraiser for autism services — a cause close to the hearts of herself and her actor and Boyzone star husband, Keith Duffy. Their daughter Mia, 14, has the condition.

She has won plaudits for her openness about the impact the condition has not only on Mia, but on parents too. She has spoken about the strain that coping with it put on her marriage as they tried to come to terms with the challenges their family faced.

Mother of three Olive, 50, faced her own steep challenges as she and her late husband, Eugene, had to come to terms with him being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2007.

She cared for him night and day before losing him in 2009 but rather than allow her grief to swamp her, she got stuck into fundraising for the Irish Cancer Society and, through that, opened up doors for herself and other local women. Olive noticed there were other young widows in her community with no support or place to talk. A chance meeting with another recently bereaved young woman from her locality was the first step towards setting up a young widows group.

“I just felt there has to be more to life than looking out a window and pitying myself all day, and there’s lots of women in my situation, that we could all mingle together.”

But that was only one of the achievements that prompted Olive’s daughter, Sinéad, 26, to nominate her for the title of National Mum of the Year because, next, Olive got herself back to work.

“That was the hardest thing to do in my life,” she said. “Financially I had to do something, so I went for an interview in the Drogheda women and children’s refuge.”

While working there, she also went back to college at night and got a qualification in business and administration. She now works as a secretary in a special needs school.

Daughter Sinéad likened her to a local celebrity.

Aside from Olive being crowned Ireland’s No. 1 mum, she also took home €5,000 worth of Lidl vouchers plus over €2,000 worth of pampering and luxury products.

The Mum of the Year Awards have been run for the past 11 years by Woman’s Way magazine and attract thousands of nominations. It is the readers themselves who vote for their Celebrity Mum of the Year.


Irish Examiner arts editor Des O'Driscoll picks his top gigs from the weekend's event, at venues around Cork City.Right Here, Right Now: this weekend's highlights

A UCC professor wants members of the public to contribute their opinions and memories on hip-hop to a major research project, writes Ellie O'Byrne.UCC professor wants your opinions and memories on hip-hop for research project

I awake to the sound of Alexa turning on Morning Ireland.Working Life: Sharon Foley, CEO, Irish HospiceFoundation (IHF)

Congrats to winners at the recent Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards.The Menu: Serving up the latest food news

More From The Irish Examiner