Noelle McCarthy: ‘Mammy was the weather in our family, she set the temperature and the conditions’

The author of ‘Grand’ on becoming her mother’s daughter

Listen | 71:11

“Force of nature is kind of a cliché, but that’s how I think of her,” says Noelle McCarthy of her mother Carol, who died in early 2020.

“She was like the weather, with the effortless ability to affect everything you do, your plans for the day… it’s a waste of time being angry with it”.

McCarthy, a broadcaster and writer from Cork, but now based in New Zealand was speaking on the latest episode of The Irish Times Women’s Podcast about her new memoir Grand: Becoming my Mother’s Daughter.

The book examines the tumultuous relationship she had with mother, who struggled with alcoholism throughout her life. It also tracks McCarthy’s life as a promising young student, who in a bid to escape her troubles at home, made the move from Cork city to New Zealand and established a name for herself in the media industry.


Despite moving to the other side of the world to start with “an absolute clean slate”, the Cork woman then faced her own battles with alcohol addiction.

“It felt so ironic to be ending up in a sort of alcoholic rock-bottom there…I’m so far away from where I started, but in another sense, I’m absolutely in the same place,” she says.

In this conversation with Róisín Ingle, she reflects on the enduring bonds between mother and daughter, her own transition into motherhood and her relationship with alcohol and addiction.

You can listen back to their conversation in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan

Suzanne Brennan is an audio producer at The Irish Times