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'Caring for my 90-year-old aunt gave me more enjoyment than my media career'

The author of a new book which documents anecdotes about caring for her 90-year-old aunt says the...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.01 15 Nov 2020


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'Caring for my 90-year-old aun...

'Caring for my 90-year-old aunt gave me more enjoyment than my media career'

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.01 15 Nov 2020


Share this article


The author of a new book which documents anecdotes about caring for her 90-year-old aunt says the experience has brought her more pleasure than her successful media career.

Helen O'Rahilly has taken Twitter by storm with her hilarious and heartwarming tweets about living with her aunt after returning to Ireland from a 30-year career in the media in London.

Those tweets have now been turned into a book called 'The Stairlift Ascends'.

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She came home from London last year and following the death of her mother, Helen's 90-year-old aunt was living in the family home by herself so she decided to move in while she tried to find a new house.

Helen told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh that soon after that lockdown struck so she and her aunt settled into their own bubble.

She explained how the idea for her book came about.

She said: "The world became very small and little things started to stand out and I realised that some of the things she was saying were keeping me going.

"We were having this surreal, bizarre, funny, frustrating conversations.

"So I said to her, is it okay if I put some of these on Twitter, and she said as long as you don't use my name, then yes.

"I started posting the occasional one, I thought it was a bit of lightness in the dark and it really took off.

"I used the hashtag 'Starlift Ascends' because the aunt would say her pithiest, wittiest thing as she went up to bed at night on her stairlift.

"Usually instructions for me for the next day, usually they were banal, sometimes they were hilarious, and accompanied with the noise of the stairlift, which was a quite old stairlift so it was quite creaky and groany.

"I thought 'The Stairlift Ascends' just sums it up."

Helen said her tweets, usually around one verbatim story a week, began attracting more and more followers from around the world.

She was then contacted by a publisher from O'Brien Press and was in production days later.

'A complete gear shift'

Helen added that her aunt had been an independent jet-setter when she was younger who moved into their family home and soon became like "a second mother".

She said that since taking care of her aunt since returning from London, she has really enjoyed the slower pace of lift and selflessness of looking after someone else.

Helen said: "The complete gear shift for me was working 18 hour days in the media.

"Yes, it's demanding, yes the mobile is always on in case she calls.

"I actually found I got far more pleasure out of caring for somebody than I did out of my career.

"Because the career is self-centred, you're bossy, you're demanding, you're working to deadlines."

She added: "This just gave me space to stop and listen and take it easier, and that's just from my point of view.

"I know people have terrible demands as carers, caring for disabled children, so I had the easier time as she's not too demanding.

"But in the interim, I'd bought a house, and the lockdown challenge for me was doing a garden and it's brought me more pleasure to do that than many things in my career.

"So I've really benefitted from the gear shift."

Helen added that her aunt is "secretly pleased" about the early success of the book, which is available to pre-order now.

'Caring for my 90-year-old aunt gave me more enjoyment than my media career'

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Main image: Helen O'Rahilly

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