FAMILY TIES Jillian Moyles with her children, Caiden (10 months), Seán (12), Damien (4), Eva (7) and Chloe (11).?Pic: Michael Mc Laughlin
Mayo mum is Ireland’s ‘best mammy’
When people talk about inspirational women, names like Aung San Suu Kyi, Adi Roche and Rosa Parks come to mind. However, you don’t have to have an international profile to be inspirational, as one Crossmolina mother has just proved.
Jillian Moyles is a mother of five who tirelessly strives to provide, as she says, ‘the best possible start in life’ for her children, Seán (12), Chloe (11), Eva (7), Damien (4), and Caiden (10 months). While most mothers would do the same, Jillian must strive that bit harder, as three children were born with albinism, a condition that has had a serious impact on their vision.
Jillian, who was born in Cong, has fought hard to make sure those three children are treated the same as any other child, especially to ensure they were able to attend mainstream school with their friends. She has also battled for amenities, such as visualisers, to be placed in classrooms so that her children could keep up at school, and for pedestrian crossings in the village – something everyone in the community has benefited from.
“We fight for our kids so much because it’s so much harder for them to get things that come naturally to others,” says Jillian. “We have brought our children up to know that this is who they are and they’re no different to anyone else. They have the confidence to know they can achieve the same as everyone else.”
Mum of the Year
Thanks to her sister, Annette Hopkins, and her aunts, Bridie Feerick and Nora Murphy, Jillian’s hard work has come to national attention. They nominated her for The Woman’s Way/John West Mum of the Year 2012 award, and the judges were so impressed by the story they told that they unanimously voted to award Jillian the title.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Jillian said it was ‘a fantastic honour’ to receive the award. “I never in a million years thought something like this would happen,” said the humble mum, who has been living in Crossmolina with her husband, John, for over a decade.in May, when Annette phoned her to tell her that she was in the running, and that she was on the shortlist for the award. Out of hundreds of nominations, the list had been whittled down to just 15 women. “I was nearly embarrassed at the thought of being nominated for something like this. I don’t see myself as anything special,” explained a modest Jillian, while admitting “It’s a lovely feeling to be acknowledged.”
Describing the days since learning she won the title as ‘a whirlwind’, Jillian has been bowled over by reaction to the news. And as for her biggest fans’ reactions to her win, well, there was never any doubt. “Damien, who is four years old, told me during the week, ‘Mammy I am so proud of you’,” explained Jillian. Her third eldest, Eva, confidently stated, ‘I always knew you were the best Mammy’.
When it comes to talking about her efforts to make the roads safer, Jillian is the first to highlight that she is not the only who has worked towards the changes, and she is full of praise for everyone’s efforts. However, she says there is still a way to go in order to make the town safer for all users, not just her children.
Jillian is also quick to praise the ‘tremendous help’ of Eskeragh NS and all it has done to make certain that Seán and Chloe received the best chance of education, such as obtaining visual learning aids to allow her children to use laptops that let them zoom in and out on lessons.
“Their education hasn’t suffered thanks to the backing of the school and our efforts. We were told last year that the school’s resource teacher would be cut for the following year, but the school fought and she was back last September,” she noted. “The whole community is playing a part in the children’s development as people.”
Jillian is also full of gratitude for her sister, who often minds the children. “Annette is the backbone for us. Anything you need she is there. I could never repay her for all she does for us,” said Jillian, emotion in her voice. “Not many people would say yes as quick to taking on five children.”
Life goes on
Jillian was awarded the Mum of the Year 2012 title at a glittering gala luncheon in The Westin Hotel, Dublin, last week. But the demands of motherhood keep this Mayo supermum’s feet firmly on the ground. On the day of her homecoming, she was already thinking of the next morning, when she would be bringing Damien for an early morning appointment.
In the longer term, Jillian and John are focused on Seán and Chloe’s move to secondary school in September. For most, this would merely require a visit to the school’s open night, but for the Moyles family preparations started last year. Jillian admits that it is difficult ‘fighting for things that should automatically be there’, but when people see how good her children are doing she gets a ‘warm feeling of achievement’.
“My children are no different to anyone else, they do their chores like any other eleven or 12 year old,” Jillian said. “Simple as that.”
When it comes to the future, Jillian has a simple wish. “The goal is that they’ll go off in life and that they will be determined despite being visually impaired.” With a mum like her to learn from, there is little doubt they will.