McCool and the gang: family life in Donegal

By Gráinne McCool (@GrainneMcCool)

Hey all. I’m Gráinne McCool, from the village of Muff in Donegal.

Please don’t snigger when you hear the name ‘Muff’.  We do know the connotations associated with it and it’s long played out now with us locals.

Muff is a little treasure trove of a village in North West Donegal, and bordering the wonderful city of Derry.

I am a Mum to three young men and wife to one young (he wishes) man. I was born just a few miles from here in Quigley’s Point.

I lived in London during college summers, Shannon in Co Clare for a few years after college and then New York for a few short months after marriage (mind you my husband didn’t accompany me to New York, but that’s a whole other story.)

My husband Paul and I eventually settled in this fabulous village in 1993 and have no plans of leaving any time soon.

My eldest son was born in 1991 (yeah, I went against convention and had him outside of wedlock) and then son number two came along in 1994.

I worked from home writing CV’s for folk and had planned to return to the workforce over the next couple of years. I soon found a job as a local secretary and settled in.

Then in January 1998, son, number three arrived.

It was then that I made a conscious decision to become a full-time mum. And so my life was soon taken over with cooking, cleaning, homework, football games and then all over again.

I loved it but there was always something missing. I think it was just a little bit of me that was missing.

Me and Him
McCool and the Gang: Gráinne, husband Paul (above) and her children Eamonn, Ultan and Oisin (below)

So in 2005 I decided to take the plunge and return to education. To begin with it was just part-time and after two years I had successfully completed a Higher Education Certificate in Irish Literature.

I didn’t stop there. I was finding myself enjoying this studying malarkey and wanted more. And so the undergraduate study began.

In 2008 I graduated with my BA Hons in English. I wanted more. In 2010 I graduated with an MA in Irish Literature in English. I think I was done studying.

By then my eldest son was finished school and embarking on his college journey.

And so I once again decided it was time to stay home and help him make the transition and help son number two prepare for Leaving Cert.

The kidsDuring these years I was penning book reviews and music reviews for some publications and in 2013 I began contributing on a regular basis to Irish Music Magazine.

In 2014, I began blogging with Mummy Pages. I think it was here that I really felt at home in my work.

Writing about my experiences as a mum just felt right. I’m not a perfect mum but no one is. I do have 24 years of experience and am still doing it so I think that leaves me pretty well qualified.


With the baby turning 18 in January I feel very privileged and lucky getting this far reasonably trouble free.

On January 1, 2015 I set up my own business, The WRITE STUFF. Here I freelance for Irish Music Magazine, proofread student’s work, prepare CV’s and cover letters for people and put words together for many other folk too.

During the summer I started a local children’s creative writing and reading group. Now known as ‘The WRITE STUFF Kids Club.’

We meet one Saturday per month and fuel those imaginations with writing and reading. It gives me such pleasure seeing the little ones enjoying penning their stories and reading for the sheer enjoyment of it.

And here I am now hoping to pen some words with this amazing new online news site.

I’m hoping to offer some worldly wise parenting advice, share my parenting experiences, both good and bad, and maybe even mention himself who’s stuck with me for 25 years. Not sure what we’re doing right but we’re still having a ball.

I’m looking forward to all that lies ahead and look forward to writing for you all again soon. From the village of Muff, Co. Donegal, have a great day.

4 thoughts on “McCool and the gang: family life in Donegal

  • December 28, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Hi Grainne, is paul by any chance from Lisburn? If so say a big hi. I lived across the green from him. Tell him to get in touch any time. Rgds paul neill
    Ps… Writing I adore!

  • March 2, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Sorry to resurrect this old post, but that explame is fascinating. Born Dublin 1983, I grew up speaking more or less the dialect described above with the odd regional marker (while my brother, in the same house, had a noticeable Dublin accent.) As a child, there was a tendency among my peers which used to bug me no end. When assuming a character in a pretend game (be it manipulating a Barbie doll or playing mammies and daddies (as we called playing house ) ) other girls my age would invariably speak in as American an accent as they could when speaking in character. I found it jarring and thought it ruined the verisimilitude of the game, but I was an odd child. I don’t know if they even knew they were doing it, and they all sounded recognisably Irish when not playing pretend, or when playing and not speaking in character.So, definitely a form of code-switching, reserved for one very specific circumstance only. A performance or dramatic dialect, maybe?


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