Mother and Son – Marie Dullaghan
How does a family survive when their sixteen-year-old son is diagnosed with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, a condition that comes with episodic paranoid schizophrenia: hallucinations, delusions…?
When the family is that of Marie Dullaghan and her son Aidan, the willingness to negotiate the strangest behaviour, and resilience to live with the shadow that suicidal ideation might become a knock on the door whenever Aidan took off, was extraordinary. And just as extraordinary was the fact that Aidan somehow made his way through A levels and a BA in Fine Art, while his mother did her own degree in photography.
With a degree show to prepare for, Marie began to reconstruct some of the worst and most bizarre moments with Aidan’s help. The conversations and healing that came from this adventure in art were remarkable. The images, always more art than biography, became a sequence of re-imagined narratives going beyond any pretence of historical accuracy to give viewers a rare and authentic insight into this journey of mother and son.
The powerful images were shown at exhibitions and then put away. Until, Marie revisited them whilst in lockdown in Malaysia, this time through the medium of poetry. The resulting book opens a deep and poignant conversation around mental health. Moving across the emotional range of despair, terror and bewilderment, it becomes a testimony to healing, empathy and hope.
Mother and Son is a triumph of both art and poetry, but most of all a triumph of the human spirit.
Marie Dullaghan is a retired education worker, born in Ireland, and currently living in Essex.
Since retiring she has taken up writing, with work published in The SHOp, (one poem republished in The SHOp Anthology 2020); The High Window; London Grip; Swords Voices and Under the Blushing Sky (a fund-raising anthology for victims of domestic violence).
While living in Dubai, Marie was a member of two poetry collectives: The Poeticians, led by Palestine poet and film-maker Hind Shoufani; and Punch, run by Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem-Beck. She read/performed regularly with those collectives at various venues, including the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Marie is also a passionate amateur photographer with work published in the Middle-Eastern magazine Sukoon. She has had two solo photographic exhibitions.