This is me in 1954 outside our home in St Dominick's Terrace, Cork.
This is me in 1954 outside our home in St Dominick’s Terrace, Cork.

Writing a blog since January has been a revelation. It took me 60 years to finally start writing about my life, but not all posts have been as wonderfully received as others. That’s part of the fun – and pain – of blogging. Nevertheless, I persevered even when at times I felt the blog was barely registering a ripple of interest. Others, that took less time and care, evoked a much better response.

In all my 11 months of blogging I have been sustained by the many messages of support, often from unlikely quarters; some came at the most opportune time, when I questioned myself. In the past few months in particular my free time has been heavily constrained, so writing has become more difficult, and the posts not always up to my standards. The good news is that I will be writing more frequently from January 1, so stand by.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already read them, here are the top 5 blogs I wrote.

1. A death in the family: The short life of my beautiful son Alan was something I was writing for a while, but it was unfinished when I accidentally hit the publish button on day – I had been writing something else. Despite sending it out without a picture (quickly remedied when I added it some time later in the reblog) there was an immediate reaction on Twitter and Facebook by those who didn’t know the story, but also a great response from family and close friends.

2. Facial disfigurement: A voyage around my face came about one wet afternoon just days after launching this blog. It took me about 30 minutes to write, but the reaction swept me off my feet. So many people just didn’t know what happened to me, including many in the Irish Examiner where I work. A couple of hours after it appeared my phone was still pinging from RTs on Twitter and messages of support. There were phone calls, emails and letters from former neighbours, young nieces and nephews who had never known the full details, and even a bishop! I was asked if the blog post could be run in the Examiner, which it was, on the same day as I featured on the John Murray Show on RTE Radio. I later did an interview on Neil Prendeville’s Show (then on 96FM) with PJ Coogan. Many of my subsequent blog posts were about how I dealt with facial disfigurement.

3. I wrote Why I never go topless because of my reaction to an operation 27 years ago. It left me with a major hangup about exposing my chest to public view. I was ashamed of the scars, so whenever I went on holidays I’d never take my t-shirt off in public. I decided to confront my fears about it, and when I did got plenty of encouragement, including from Katie Piper whose RT of the initial post generated a lot of traffic.

4. In the wake of telling all about myself, I posted A lost face: What I looked like before the accident which included one of the last pictures of me just before I was burned. My son Daire looked very like me at the age of two.

5. The subject of face transplants has become more of an issue in the past few years thanks to some phenomenal pioneering work. A rivetting article on Richard Norris in GQ magazine inspired me to write Face transplant? Not for me. Again, great reaction to this piece, helped in part by Katie Piper.

UPDATE: a mere day after posting this comes an important change. Farewell to the Irish Examiner Was posted yesterday and it moved rapidly up the charts! So much so that it now comes in at Number 3 on the rankings list. Some achievement.