Catherine Hayes writes....

My name is Catherine Hayes. I grew up on a farm near Cappamore. I’m the eldest of three. I have one sister and one brother and he farms and lives where I grew up. When my brother married, my mother moved into a new bungalow up the road. I came home to her there at weekends and during holidays.

I went to school in Caherline where my aunt was a teacher. When she got a new job in Cappamore I transferred to the Convent School there. My aunt decided that boarding school would be good for me and her daughter! We were booked into Laurel Hill, which is now called the Colaiste. Boarding school was an awful shock to the system and having to do my subjects through Irish was a very big challenge.

I don’t have too many memories of my school days but I got through them without too much stress and managed to get a place in UCD in 1973. I studied Commerce. College was another shock to the system, the freedom from boarding school and home was so great…they were the best years.

There were over 300 in my class in UCD, mostly lads. I think there were about 40 girls or less. I’m still in touch with 5 girls from those days and we meet regularly and have zoom chats.

We had one lecturer I will never forget. His name was John Teeling , the founder of Teeling Whiskey. He doesn’t drink a drop of it. He knew how to deliver a lecture and the banter between him and some in the class was great fun. There was one lad I’ll never forget. He used to shout out regularly in the middle of a lecture “what about the exaums “ in his best accent. Some of us christened him Exaums.

One of my classmates was a very talented footballer…Kevin Moran. He played Gaelic Football for Dublin and he won several All Ireland Medals. When he finished his degree he joined Man Utd and played Premier Soccer for many years.

After three happy years in UCD I decided to go to St. Patrick’s Training College in Drumcondra to do a one year diploma course to become a Primary teacher.

My first teaching job was in a boys school in Finglas, Dublin. There was a mixed staff and there was always some craic in the staff room. My first class had 40 infant boys. My friend Maura and I decided to bring our classes on a school tour. It was no ordinary tour, it was a train journey to Fota Wildlife Park. We still talk about that amazing day and we didn’t lose one boy!

In Dublin I joined Charleville Tennis Club and Thorndale Badminton Club. I also did a course in Reflexology and practised for a few years. There was always something to do in Dublin, films, theatre, concerts. I went on trips abroad.

After about 20 plus years teaching in Dublin I met my husband. He is a dairy farmer and still works very hard. After a few sad miscarriages we decided to adopt. After completing a preparation course we got our declaration to adopt. We decided to go to Russia. Eventually we got an email telling us there was an 18month old baby boy waiting for us. The lady wrote “he is just perfect for you” and she was right.

We had two trips to Moscow. The baby home was half way between Moscow and St. Petersburg. The first trip was for 3 nights and the second trip was for 5 nights. We were met at the airport by our driver Roma and our translator Tatiana. We visited Denis daily and got to know him. After a court hearing Denis was ours. Our first night with him was spent in the Marriott Hotel in Moscow. We didn’t sleep much and kept a watchful eye. Next day we went to the Irish Embassy to get his visa. On our way to the airport Roma was like a tour guide pointing out many of the sights of Moscow. The whole adoption process took two years. It went very smoothly, we were lucky.

Right away I got stuck into being a mother and stopped teaching. I helped on the farm milking the cows. I quickly found out that farming is not an easy way of life, even though I grew up with it. There were no breaks, no weekends away, it was 365. I was used to holidays! It’s not easy to leave your dairy business to a relief milker. No one can do the job as well as yourself! It’s so important to have someone trained who can take over in an emergency and can stand in when it’s time for a day off or a holiday or a doctor’s appointment.

My downtime is spent in my polytunnel where I grow lots of vegetables. Beekeeping also keeps me busy. My hobbies include playing bridge, (I’m only learning) cycling, yoga, art class, cinema, walking, day trips away, baking, jam making, and much more!

Soo Ling introduced me to the IWO. She invited me to the Christmas lunch maybe 2 years ago. I found all you ladies very friendly and chatty. I wanted to join. I was accepted as a member shortly after that.

Covid happened and there were no coffee mornings. A zoom chat was set up and I looked forward so much to hearing and seeing you ladies. It was a blessing during those lockdown days. I was able to join the Book club via Zoom. I’m not a great reader and I didn’t read the books but I loved hearing what others had to say about a book. I would love to try the Tile Game sometime into the future. I’m looking forward to more events with the IWO in better times.

Life is a bit easier for me now. Denis is 20…all grown up and in college. He started driving when he was 18 and after many years of driving him here and there, I was out of a job. It was a very big change for me…empty nest syndrome.. and it took time to adjust. I’ve realised that I’ve more time for ME and it’s time to start living, whenever we can!

That’s my story…not a very exciting life… so far!

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