Nicole Turner describes her mother, Bernie, as one of the most influential people in her career — a career which, last year, saw her win a silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. “I was born quite sick, so my mum took extra time off work to look after me,” Nicole explains now of the support she has always received from her mother. “I’ve two older brothers, so she was looking after them as well.”
Bernie recalls: “Initially when she was born, she was very, very tiny, and very, very sick. She had reflux, and we didn’t know… She didn’t get diagnosed with the dwarfism until she was five-and-a-half.”
Before Nicole received her diagnosis, her parents took her swimming one day to join in with her brothers. Her talent was instantly obvious. Then, when she was seven, the Little People of Ireland — the national charity for people with restricted growth — told the family about the World Dwarf Games.
They decided to bring Nicole to the event, which was taking place in Belfast that year. “Not for the swimming, it was just for her to meet other little people. But she just excelled in her swimming,” Bernie recalls with a proud smile. “She did absolutely fantastic, and one of the coaches said, ‘You need to nourish this. She’s going to be phenomenal’.”
Bernie and her husband agreed to help Nicole progress in the sport. “We just decided that we’d try and nourish the swimming, and that’s what we did. From then on, I didn’t go back to work; I just continued to support Nicole in her swimming.”
As well as emotional support, Bernie provided logistical help — at one point driving Nicole from their home in Portarlington, Co Laois, to the National Aquatic Centre in Co Dublin every morning. Nicole says: “If it wasn’t for her taking time out of work and looking after me, and even feeding me, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I’ve got.”
The unstinting support of her parents, regardless of her performance in the pool, is crucial when competing at such a high level under such pressure, she reflects. “There is the fear that it’s not always going to be that way,” Nicole says of her success. “My parents’ support is absolutely phenomenal; they just drive me to do my best. And whatever that is, it is. If I do bad swims or a bad competition, I’m not coming home to people saying, ‘OK. That’s it. We’re going to give up’.
“I do look at other families, and nothing against them, but [the] parents wouldn’t have the commitment that my mam and dad — my mam, especially — have for me. They always prioritise me.” More than anyone, an athlete’s parent sees all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. When her daughter does well, it’s “like a feeling of euphoria”, Bernie says. “Because you know all the hard work and the commitment that went into it, and the discipline, so you do want a reward for them at the end of it.”
The silver medal in Tokyo was, she beams, “the icing on the cake”.
Spending so much time together has meant the mother and daughter, who Nicole says are very alike, know each other especially well. “When we’re in the car every day we know when to talk to each other and when not. You just get to know the person, don’t you?” Bernie says.
Both relished the chance to spend time together at Kildare Village’s new personal shopping suites, getting dressed up for the photos featured here. As a swimmer, Nicole’s day-to-day style is casual, mostly jumpers and leggings.
Nicole remembers lusting after her mum’s clothes when she was growing up. “It can be difficult to get clothes because of my size, but my granny is actually a seamstress; she alters all my clothes for me. When I was a baby, it worked out well in that my mam could get a pair of shorts and they’d actually be full-length on me. But as I’ve got older, I just buy normal, size eight, 19-year-old-girl clothes, and then my granny alters them to my size.”
She’s one of the lucky ones, she says; her grandmother’s help makes things relatively straightforward. “I’d never really worry about what it’ll look like. I bring something to her and she’s always able to do something.” A few weeks ago, she brought her grandmother a jumpsuit she had bought that wasn’t fitting; she took the top off and made it into trousers.
“Shoes are probably the hardest thing to buy, because small people more than likely have a very wide foot, and a small foot as well. Clothes you can alter, but you can’t really do any altering with shoes.” Again, Nicole says she is lucky; she is a size three, so she can find adult styles, rather than having to resort to children’s styles. “Growing up small, if I couldn’t reach something I’d always figure out a situation to reach it. And I think that’s the same with clothes — I’d always figure something out for it to work for my size.”
Bernie smiles, then says: “Nothing fazes her. I’m so, so proud of her.”
Fashion designer Aoife McNamara and her mum, Deirdre
When, during fourth year in secondary school, Aoife McNamara’s mother, Deirdre, brought her daughter to a fashion show at the Limerick School of Art and Design, it was life-changing. Aoife had known she wanted to do something artistic for her career; art had “hands down” been her best subject in school. “But I wasn’t too sure what,” she says today. “My mum said, ‘Let’s just go to the fashion show and see what it’s like’. I remember looking at the clothes on the models on the runway, and I was absolutely mesmerised. That was the first time that I realised, ‘OK. This is it’. From then on, I had my head down. I knew I never wanted to do anything other than fashion.”
Aoife established her eponymous label in 2019. Sustainability is a huge part of her focus. “A big part of my brand is earth logic, not growth logic.” This outlook comes from things her mother instilled in her during her upbringing, she says.
“It definitely started from my love for nature. When I was younger, we lived in the countryside, and we were always going to the beach, always in the water or out in the field. My mum embedded in me, from being a young child, being in nature and having a respect for nature.”
More than that, her mother actively encouraged her to pursue a creative career.
“We’re a big creative family,” Aoife says. “We definitely got it from my mum. She loves art herself; we got our creativity from her. I was very encouraged all throughout school and college, which was nice, because when I was younger, fashion wasn’t really a career that you’d think you could have a business in. Nowadays it’s more understood that there are loads of jobs, but I suppose in Ireland there still weren’t that many. So I was very fortunate that I had my mum to say, ‘No, you should stick with this; you’re really good at this, and believe in your own abilities’.”
Both agree they have a loving relationship, built around a shared love of being in nature. “We’ve a lot in common — we love the outdoors, and walking, countryside, swimming,” Deirdre says.
Aoife adds: “I think I’m very lucky that I could tell her anything. You could come to her with any problem in the world and she would figure it out.”
Her preference is for a capsule wardrobe, something she gets from Deirdre. “I’d invest in certain pieces. When I’m buying, I buy really good quality, and I’d always keep it quite neutral so I can match it with whatever I want.”
Deirdre says: “I’d have the few key pieces, I’m very minimalist, really. I like classy and elegant; I would have been encouraging of her in that area.”
It’s fantastic to be able to wear designs by her daughter, she adds. “There’s a great buzz about it. When my other daughter got married, Aoife made me a mother-of-the-bride dress. It was fabulous.”
Ireland cricket captain Laura Delany and her mum, Denise
When Laura Delany was growing up, her mum Denise owned a clothes shop. “Accessories were something she was always into,” Laura recalls. “I had an endless supply of her accessories, or I was able to go down to the shop to pick out a few items.”
She was aware of her mother’s style from a young age, she adds, describing how she would try on her heels. “I couldn’t wait to have my own pair.”
Laura had a sizeable collection of what they called “clacky heels” — those plastic mules children play with — her mother recalls with a smile.
Even as a small child, Laura exhibited the determination that has stood to her in a sporting career that has propelled her to the position of captain of the Irish women’s cricket team.
“Early on, Laura and her brother [Ireland cricketer Gareth] learned that there is a discipline and a commitment attached to sport,” their mother Denise recalls, describing nights out missed by her daughter because she had training the next day. “Unless you are committed and determined, you’re not going to survive.”
Denise talks about her pride at watching Laura in her role as cricket team captain: “How she deals with the other girls, and copes with situations. And she had to fight battles to try and improve the situation for women’s cricket. That could have been at a personal cost to herself, but she has been prepared to stand up both on the pitch and off the pitch, and that makes me so proud.”
Watching your child be sidelined by an injury – such as an ankle injury Laura sustained while playing for Ireland in 2019 – can be extremely tough, Denise says. “You’re looking at the devastation for them; you see the hours and hours that they’ve put in. You don’t know how well you’re going to come back. They don’t know whether they’re coming or going, or what’s going to happen. How this is going to affect them. Whether they’re still going to be on the team. Whether they’re going to have to fight for their place to get back there.”
Laura says she’s so lucky that her parents have been “super supportive” of her sporting ambitions. “Getting up at 6am, collecting me from school, having my dinner ready, bringing me to the next session and then bringing me home. Over the years, they’ve always been there for me. They’ve been the main support system.”
Your parents see everything that goes on behind the scenes, she points out. “Those outside don’t always see the journey you’ve been on and how much one event means to you. It makes a huge difference when you go away to those massive events, that you can lean on people who know the story, and where you’re coming from and how much it means to you.”
Elite sports can be an all-consuming world; her mother keeps her grounded, Laura continues. “She definitely keeps me down to earth. When you’re a sportsperson, it’s so easy to get absorbed into that world, and forget that there are things going on outside of it.”
They love to travel together, going on city breaks, a complete switch-off for Laura from the world of cricket. “We could have a row, and we could have a right strop, but then we’d cool down very quickly and it would be forgotten about,” Denise says with a smile.
Make-up artist Tara O’Farrell and her mum, Mary
Tara O’Farrell and her mother, Mary, have always been close, but their relationship deepened when Tara herself became a mother. “I leaned on her for everything,” Tara says of her mum in the weeks after her first child arrived. “Even being pregnant, I was asking her questions. Of course, nothing can really prepare you for what’s coming, but she prepared me as best she could. Since I became a mum, I would be lost without her — physically and mentally — to be honest. She just totally understands. She and my sister are the people I can really talk to. Whatever I need, they’re there.”
Tara, who now has two boys, recalls feeling overwhelmed when she became a mother. “To love somebody so much. I was very emotional all the time. As a person, I became a lot more empathetic.” She describes the compassion she now feels for other mothers: “Whenever I meet someone who’s becoming a mum for the first time, I really want to mother them myself.”
Now she and her own mother are best friends, she says. “I would tell my mum things that I know my best friends wouldn’t tell their mum. It’s more of a friendship really; a very, very deep friendship.”
Mary adds: “We always did things together. I enjoyed being a mother when they were young, but it is hard work. Sometimes it’s easier to go out to work than to stay home and mind children. It’s the responsibility; that they’re yours, the buck ends with you, you have to make decisions.”
The teenage years can be challenging, she says; finding the balance is key. “We did have fights, but I think we weren’t too strict. We did give them a bit of freedom. I think if you’re too strict, they react badly, and they do the complete opposite to what you want.”
Mary says that becoming a grandmother has been a joy — she now has six grandchildren. She laughs as she says that, even today, her own children and their families like to join her and her husband on holiday. “We can’t get rid of them!”
Tara says Mary has always been very glamorous. “I always loved clothes, from when I was younger and a teenager,” Mary says. “When I couldn’t afford to buy what I wanted, I used to make clothes myself.”
Mary’s interest in fashion and beauty rubbed off on Tara, who is now one of the country’s best-known make-up artists and influencers. She has picked up her mother’s habit of keeping a lipstick in every handbag. Since becoming a mum, her own style has probably become “a little more casual,” she laughs; practicality trumps all other requirements.
Stylist Ingrid Hoey and her mum, Ann
It was a relief to Ann when her daughter Ingrid began school and was forced to wear a daily uniform, the pair laughingly recall. “I remember her saying when I started school it was the best day of her life,” Ingrid says, “because she could just point at the school uniform when I would ask, ‘What will I wear tomorrow?’ That was literally my last question as I closed my eyes before going to sleep. ‘Again?’ I’d say. ‘Yes, again Ingrid,’ she would reply.”
Ann adds: “She was such a stylish little girl. She’d want to wear her summer clothes in the winter. She loved to wear my boots. As soon as she’d come home, she’d have to take off the school uniform and put on something nice.”
Ingrid says her mother is the reason she was able to pursue her career as a fashion stylist. The hours can be long and unpredictable; when Ingrid’s two daughters were young, her husband’s work regularly involved long-distance travel. Ann would step in and provide the childcare needed to keep things running.
“She’s the reason I could do what I did for so long. Because my hours can be kind of crazy — if you’re working on a TV show, you could be there until 11pm. She helped with the girls, was always there to step in. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without her, to be honest with you.”
Ann had similarly been a dependable presence for Ingrid growing up. “She was always around. Mum was always there. You’d go home and she’d have the fire lighting, she was always a real home mum. As it turned out, my girls kind of grew up with mum that way. She would collect them from school, give them their tea, do their homework. I hope I can do that for my girls when they’re older.”
When Ingrid became a mother, they became even closer, Ann explains. “When they’re teenagers, they have their friends. When they have their children, they come back again. I loved the girls just as much as Ingrid.”
Being a grandmother is easier, though, than being a mother, she says, smiling. “You’re more relaxed with them. They’re not really your full responsibility either.”
Growing up, her mother was always stylish, Ingrid says. She wore the kind of classic, timeless clothes that can be passed from generation to generation: “Everything was always elegant.”
Shopping as you get older can require more effort, Ann says. “You have to change, and change is hard; not everybody likes change. Fashion is more geared at younger people, and so you have to go shopping a lot more often and look around.”
To book an appointment with the personal shopping team at the three new suites, email: email@example.com
Photographed by Barry McCall. Styling by Clara Halpin, Kildare Village director of private and personal shopping. Make-up by Billy Orr. Assisted by Tomak Welkier and John Bowes. Hair by David Cashman. Assisted by Amy O’Connell
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/family-features/i-could-come-to-her-with-any-problem-in-the-world-five-well-known-women-pay-tribute-to-the-mums-who-inspire-them-41474673.html Mother’s Day Ireland 2022: ‘I could come to her with any problem in the world’ – Five well-known women pay tribute to the mums who inspire them