Jillian, 34, from Crossmolina, Mayo, is a mum of five children aged between 10 months and 12 years — three of whom were born visually impaired due to albinism.
Jillian said she fought for her visually impaired children because it was so much harder for them to get things that come naturally to others.
“I have brought up my children to know that they are no different to anyone else,” she said. “They have the confidence to know they can achieve the same as everyone else.”
Jillian ensured that her children attended mainstream school by having technology available so they could keep up with their peers.
She also made sure that pedestrian crossings were installed in the village of Crossmolina, something the whole community has benefited from.
Jillian, who was chosen from hundreds of mums in the Woman’s Way/John West Mum of the Year 2012, joined other regional winners at a luncheon in the Westin Hotel in Dublin yesterday.
Her sister Annette Hopkins and aunts Bridie Feerick and Nora Murphy nominated Jillian for the title.
A special recognition award was made to Elaine Finegan from Kimmage, Dublin, nominated by her daughter, also Elaine, for putting her life on hold so she could fight for hers.
Elaine, who is in her mid-20s, was working as a school teacher when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Her mum moved to London to be with her while she underwent nine rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“She’s one in a million and I love her. She moved to London for eight months knowing no one and not even when I lost all my hair, which was my pride and joy, did she let it upset me,” said Elaine.
After being given the all clear, Elaine’s cancer returned six months later. She is now back in Dublin with her mum and undergoing treatment.
Mum Elaine said it had been a long road for them but they were hoping for the all-clear again. “She’s staying so positive and she’s such a great person. It is just a waiting game now for us so, please God, it’ll all be OK.”
TV3 presenter Sybil Mulcahy was voted Celeb Mum of the Year.