Anne Holliday

My wife Anne Holliday died of lung cancer in April 2011. We loved each other very much, and we had lived together for twenty five years. She was smart, sexy, funny and courageous, she combined her busy career with helping me to edit my writing, she was loving and loyal to her family and friends, she campaigned to build a peaceful, liberal and caring Ireland, she was inspirational while living with cancer, and she is still helping others after dying as she donated her body to Trinity medical school.

We married in November 2009, just after Anne was told she had six months to live. We wanted to give our friends a happy event to share with us rather than a funeral. Never one to do things in halves, Anne recovered from a subsequent heart attack and stroke, and thanks to the great work of the Oncology team in the Mater Private hospital, she lived actively and happily for a year and a half before dying in April 2011. We spent most of that time visiting family and friends, traveling abroad, and watching countless DVD box sets on the days that chemotherapy tired her out. Because of these DVD marathons, that ranged from Morse and Lewis and Poirot to Doctor Who and the Goodies and Sex and the City, plus rewatching all of Anne’s favourite old movies, I now miss her most when I am watching television.

Anne did not want to die, but nor did she fear death. She was grateful to have had enough notice of her death to be able to do many things that she wanted to do first. And she wanted to die peacefully and painlessly rather than have to suffer needlessly before dying. She had decided that, if she had reached that stage, she would have ended her own life and I would have have helped her to do this. Once she had made that decision, her quality of life soared and we were able to fully enjoy the time she had left. Thankfully, Anne died suddenly but naturally, so we had the benefit of not having to worry about needless suffering at the end, but without her having to actually take the decision to end her life and carry it out. And living through all of this with her has made me much more comfortable about facing my own death when it happens.

I first met Anne in 1986, during the decade of Reagan and Thatcher, Madonna and Diana, shoulder pads and Back to the Future. Ireland was engulfed in recession, with Garret The Good and Charles GUBU Haughey alternating as Taoiseach of a country where one in five adults were jobless or emigrating. Anne was working as a secretary for Michael Keating TD in the Irish Parliament. I had various dealings with Keating, and sometimes dropped into his office where I would chat with Anne. We found we had much in common politically, particularly wanting a more liberal and caring society, challenging the influence of the Catholic Church on Irish law in areas like contraception, divorce and abortion, and opposing terrorism from all sides in Northern Ireland. We were also very attracted to each other, and we were soon living together.

Anne made me aware of one of Ireland’s most forgotten minorities: the Anglo-Irish Protestants who had ended up in the Republic after partition. In effect, we had a sectarian Protestant state in the north, with a Catholic minority large enough to not be intimidated, and a sectarian Catholic state in the south, with a Protestant minority small enough to have to emigrate or keep their heads down. When Anne was a child in Limerick, some of the local Catholic children used to spit at her and her friends on their way to the local Protestant school. Although she later became an atheist insofar as she didn’t believe in gods and didn’t attend religious services, Anne still self-identified as a member of the Church of Ireland community from a perspective somewhere between ethnic and cultural. They were her people, and she was an atheist Protestant in the same way as some people are atheist Jews.

While in her teens, Anne worked as a Simon Community volunteer and was a founder member of the Limerick chapter of the Irish Georgian Society. She moved to London to train as a nurse, but returned to Limerick to care for her parents when they were ill. Both died of cancer, each at about the same young age as Anne was when she later died of the same disease. Anne then moved to Dublin, working as a legal secretary in Matheson Ormsby Prentice. She married her first husband David, and they later separated. Anne became active in Fine Gael, campaigning on liberal issues in a constituency where the local Fine Gael TD Alice Glenn considered Protestants to be “enemies of the people”. She was also active on conservation issues including the campaign to preserve the viking settlement at Wood Quay.

Anne and I worked together to promote a liberal and caring Ireland. We campaigned on the losing side when Ireland voted to retain a Constitutional ban on divorce, and on the winning side a decade later. When the Pope announced that it was morally allowed to discriminate against homosexuals, we arranged a picket of the Papal Nuncio’s house with placards that read “Equal rights for gays and celibates”. Together with our friend Michael Fitzpatrick, we founded New Consensus, a peace group that picketed the Sinn Fein and UDA offices in opposition to terrorism, and promoted a peaceful democratic Northern Ireland based on mutual respect, civil liberty and freely given allegiance to the State. Anne was also the first Dublin coordinator of the Peace Trains that challenged the IRA disruption of the rail line between Dublin and Belfast.

We moved to our current home in Drumcondra in the summer of 1990, during the euphoria of Ireland’s adventures under Jack Charlton in the Italy World Cup. Anne chaired our local Residents Association, and ran in the Dublin women’s mini-marathon to raise funds for Victim Support. She also prepared submissions to the City Council on the preservation of important local buildings. We made many lifelong friendships, and we also increased the local feline population when Anne converted me from being a childhood dog person to an adult cat person. We had, and I still have, an average of six cats, almost all of them adopted from the streets or rescued from being put down at the vets.

Three years later Anne lost a High Court case against the State while trying to protect her job and that of other Dail secretaries. At the time, if an Irish political party lost seats but gained them elsewhere, the secretarial staff were usually reassigned to new TDs. But when Roger Garland TD lost his seat, the new Green Party TD chose to employ a friend instead of retaining Anne. Anne argued that she was employed by the State and that her job still existed. The High Court disagreed, despite the State being listed as her employer on her payslip. Anne then worked with a training company and as a freelance researcher with RTE, before returning later to the civil service.

Another three years later Anne was back in the High Court, when she, I and Michael Fitzpatrick won a libel case against the Irish author Tim Pat Coogan. He had written in his book The IRA that New Consensus had grown out of the old Official IRA. Not only was this not true, but Anne had personally told him it was not true some years earlier. But then what would she know? We used some of the settlement money to go on our first cruise, so we have Tim Pat to thank for introducing us to our favourite type of holiday. When Anne was diagnosed, we had already booked our latest cruise, to the Amazon and Caribbean, and having to cancel that seemed to upset her more than having cancer.

We also loved visiting Paris, enjoying the galleries and relaxing by the Seine. Anne even overcame her bemusement at my strange obsession for football when she came with me to Paris to watch the 1998 World Cup Final. I was supporting Brazil, largely because of the legendary Pele team from when I was a child, but Anne wisely chose to support the winning French team. Later we got split up in a crowded Paris railway station, and when I found Anne she was sitting beside a middle-aged English man, discussing his occasional trips to Dublin. I recognised him as Nobby Stiles, who had played for England in the 1966 World Cup Final, and they were both unimpressed that I had drawn attention to him and interrupted their conversation by attracting autograph hunters.

For most of the last decade of her life, Anne worked in Civil Service jobs that she loved. She was Personal Assistant to the Director of the National Museum of Ireland, where her passion for history came to the fore. She then spent some of the best times of her career in the special projects section of the Department of Arts, where she coordinated the Irish end of the unique Sea Stallion project. A team in Denmark reconstructed a viking ship, using the technology and materials of the viking age, and a crew of volunteers sailed the ship to and from Dublin, where it was displayed at the National Museum. Her last job was in the office of the Tanaiste in the Department of Enterprise.

Anne and I both stopped working when she was diagnosed with cancer, so we could spend more time together. She identified with Christopher Hitchen’s description of preparing for dying and for living at the same time. Her Oncology team, led by Professor Desmond Carney, was excellent. We had weekly or fortnightly chemotherapy days, where we relieved the monotony by playing scrabble on an iPad. Apart from that, we fulfilled our promise to enjoy ourselves as much as we could for as long as we could. We couldn’t take long holidays, so we took short breaks to Paris, Bordeaux, London, Copenhagen and elsewhere. For our honeymoon I tagged along on a trip to Paris with Anne and her friends Mary, Claire and Margaret, that they had arranged before her diagnosis. We also spent time visiting our families and friends, including her sister Carrie and her family in Scotland, who she loved and always spoke proudly of, and many others who I won’t even try to list as I will inevitably omit someone. We had a glass of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, which Anne had always wanted to do. And we celebrated the first wedding anniversary that we had thought we would not see together.

Anne knew shortly before she died that the chemotherapy had done all that it could, but we had hoped she might last until the summer. She visited her native Limerick for what she knew was the last time. As usual, she had a busy schedule planned for the coming week, with her sister Carrie visiting us from Scotland. After that, she wanted to watch the next series of Doctor Who and the final Harry Potter movie, and if possible to see Paris once more. She wanted to share a glass of champagne with my father, who had missed our first wedding anniversary because he was ill. She was delighted to see Fine Gael back in government, and she looked forward to the visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland as a symbol of the normal relations that should exist between nearby democracies. And she was helping some RTE people to plan a documentary about assisted dying. While Anne knew she might not see these things happen, she lived as if she would.

Anne died suddenly at home on the morning of Saturday 9 April 2011. Her sister Carrie was visiting us from Scotland, and Anne had spent the previous night with Carrie and some friends. I had left the house at 6 am to travel to Cork to chair the Atheist Ireland AGM, and our last words were saying that we loved each other. Carrie called to the house after noon and found Anne dead. She rang me in Cork, where the local police kindly gave me a lift to the railway station to get the next train back to Dublin. Amusingly, this resulted in one of our friends mishearing the news of Anne’s death as “Anne has been found dead in the house, and the police have brought Michael to the station.” A few days later, with Anne’s body in Trinity College medical school carrying on her good works after death, our families and friends gathered for an evening of memories to celebrate her remarkable life.

I loved Anne and I miss her. I am happy and proud to have lived with her for so long.

79 thoughts on “Anne Holliday

  1. Wow. That is a most wonderful tribute. So much love there. And such fantastic memories of a brilliant life.

  2. Please accept my sincere condolences. You write very movingly of your wife and the love you both had for each other. I am glad you did get to spend valuable and precious time together before the end. Take care and keep up your good work.

  3. Sorry, didn’t know of your loss. I do feel pain for her untimely departure and your loss, whilst very much appreciate the life and love you both have shared and her legacy living with you and other people touched by her.

  4. Hi sorry for your loss , just came across your site through a friends , Im teary reading you lovely wives legacy to this world , such a kind and caring woman , I am so glad you had your time with this wonderful woman , she sounds great , I hope her spirit lives on with those who reads this and realise how precious life is , we all forget that sometimes , my sympathy for your loss, and I hope someday the pain becomes less .

  5. Dear Michael,

    I’m very sorry to hear of your loss. I do not know you or Anne but I do know we’re kindred spirits and the world is much better place because of people like you and Anne. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts and good wishes are with you.

    Deren J. Ross
    Auburn, California

  6. Michael, I’m sorry for your loss and hers, but even though I never met her, I get a great sense of what a wonderful woman she was from your warm and touching memorial.

  7. Michael, thank you for sharing this lovely tribute to Anne. I didn’t know her, so it’s really nice to be able to read this and learn a little bit about her life and see how much of a loving & caring person she was. I’m happy that you had the opportunity to meet & spend time with such an amazing person and I’m very sorry for your loss.

  8. A beautiful tribute to a woman you clearly loved and admired. Thank you for sharing this, and for reminding me to enjoy and be so so grateful for what and who I have in my life. You have my sympathy, such a huge loss.

  9. Very sorry to hear of your loss Michael, that’s a beautiful tribute written from the heart.

  10. I know you only through atheist websites but have been inspired by your homourous and articulate debunking of unreason.

    I came across your tribute to Anne unexpectedly. Filled with love and admiration for someone you loved so much it was profoundly moving.

    Though I did not know Anne and do not know you,allow me,please, to express my condolences to you.

    Austin McGrath

  11. Your moving and wonderful tribute brings me back to happy, active days in New Consensus and the Peace Train Organisation, where Anne was ever-present with enthusiasm and bright ideas for demonstrations and constructive protests. Our trips to Belfast and London were inspirational.

    After reading your account of her full and praiseworthy life, I feel I now know Anne even better.

    Warm wishes,


  12. Thank you for sharing wonderful memories of your late wife, Anne. You must realise how lucky you were to have had such a fantastic relationship. I am truly sorry for your great loss.

  13. Only know you through the various websites but please accept my condolences.

    Austin McGrath

  14. Hello Michael
    I feel like a bit of a voyeur reading the details of a love well lived, but i ended up here from my friend Paraic’s FB page.
    You must be really heartbroken to have such a perfect soulmate move on before you, but what a lovely openhearted tribute to her.
    Best wishes to you and to Anne’s memory .

  15. Thank you very much to everyone who has commented on this. It was cathartic for me to write it, and I hope it will be a permanent online record of Anne’s life for future generations to read.

  16. Thank you also to everyone who commented on Facebook and elsewhere. I’ve included those comments below to keep all of the comments in the one place.

    That’s beautiful, Michael. What an inspiring woman. [Genevieve Shanahan]

    I’ve never even met you, and I found that terribly moving. You are both very fortunate to have had such a life together and very unfortunate that it was so short. [Nick Balshaw]

Michael, That is a very beautiful tribute to your late wife… thank you for sharing. [Maureen McGovern]

    Sorry for your loss [Padraic Glynn]

I was so sorry to hear about this. This is a beautiful tribute and she sounds like a wonderful person. [Sally Fennessy]

Beautiful post, Michael [Miranda Celeste Hale]

    That’s a beautiful tribute, Michael. She was clearly a very special person. I’m so sorry for your loss – but glad you have such wonderful memories to help sustain you. xxx [Paula Kirby]

    I couldn’t say what I want to say better than Nick Balshaw up there. Very moving. [Brian Dunlea]

    Beautiful read [Peter O’Doherty]

    Michael, that’s a lovely tribute, thank you for sharing it with us. [Brian Rogan]

    She sounds like a magnificent person. Very politically courageous, someone who enhanced life for other people. [Ruth Kennedy]

    Wow, such a lovely tribute to your lovely wife. She was a lucky women to get you as a husband, Nice article. Beautifully written with all the love and memories. I am sorry for your loss… [Olivia Cassandrae]

    To be loved so much by those we leave behind is the greatest tribute any of us can receive. [Emmett O’Reilly]

    She was also kind and quirky with loads of passion for what she was interested in, fearless, fascinating and with the patience of a saint! Thinking of you always, even though I have become appalling at contact. [Breda Whyte]

  17. Very sad but also inspirational. I was privileged to have known Anne. I’m really pleased you wrote this Mick – lots of stuff I never knew and am glad I do. A wonderful tribute.

    Paul Woodfull

  18. That’s beautiful Michael. I’m sure Amne was just as proud of you as you clearly are of her.

  19. Michael,

    thank you for that sincere and touching story. I’ll have this translated into Portuguese and published in the blog of the Secular Humanist League of Brazil, of which I’m a humble president. I hope you don’t mind.

    Best wishes, fraternally yours,

    Eli Vieira.

  20. Michael
    Just reading all of this now.I think of Anne a lot, and the times the three of us had together in our various campaigns.But also often Anne comes in to my mind, and I think of her as Anne as a person whom I enjoyed a lot. I feel sad that I did not in later years keep more in contact with her more. But I think she knew I had a lot on my plate. No excuse I know. But when we made contact again we just picked up from where we left off.

    I used to enjoy the funnier moments when she would share various anecdotes ablout people or situations. She was always in good humour and she bore her illness with great bravery. She absolutely amazed me with her attidude and matter of fact approach to her illness. I hope I could be like her if I had to contend with the same diagnosis.There is lots more I could say about such a wonderful person, who was always interested in and caring for the welfare of others. Anne I miss her.

  21. Dear Michael, I was very moved by your tribute to your late wife,clearly your loved dearly and she is much missed. I wish you and your family good health and much good fortune and please continue with your good work on the atheism front. Good luck. PS I have placed your account of the churches child sex expose on face book.

  22. Not just a loss to you Michael. A loss to us all even though we did not know her. Not having known her was a loss.
    Hope you are keeping well especially at this precious time.

  23. What a touching tribute. It is incredible to me that all this heartbreak was going on for you while at the same time you have been running Atheist Ireland so successfully and particularly bringing the international conference to Dublin. I’m sure it gave Anne the only possible compensation for young death to have your love and active care, including respecting all her decisions, surround her in her final months.

  24. What beautiful and meaningful life you two had together! Thank you for sharing this, Michael.

  25. Beautiful tribute Mick and a lovely compassionate memorial.
    Keep up the good fight !

  26. Thanks very much Paul, Richard, Philip, Eli, Michael, R, Kevin, Sarah, Liz, Joanna, Peter and John for sharing your thoughts about Anne.

    Thanks also to the following friends who commented in recent days on Facebook:

    Can’t believe a year has passed already. I hope you’re keeping well Michael. [Stephen Duggan]

    Michael, I just read your tribute to your Anne. Very moving and loving, she was obviously a wonderful woman. I’m so glad you have good friends to help you through this very sad time. Keep well… [Emer Byrne]

    Michael – Thanks for sharing! We’re relatively new Facebook friends, so still getting to know you. [Sean Asbury]

    Thank you Michael for sharing your memories of Anne, your love for her and your pain. She was a remarkable woman who had beautiful and rich life. No wonder you are proud of her. Thank you for letting me get to know Anne a little through your tribute. And thank you for letting me to get to know you a little. I do feel touched and I feel close to you as a result. Keep well dear friend. [Andrew Runiewicz]

    A lovely tribute Michael-thanks for sharing. I visited the Viking museum in Roskilde over the weekend, where the Sea Stallion itself and pics of it’s journey make up a huge part of the outdoor exhibit. What a great legacy Anne has left behind. Take care! [Desmond O’Dowd]

    Dearest Michael. Thank you so much! Anne is on my mind every day, yesterday I printed the copper plate where your beloved wife, our friend in the ship in the sky, raising her glass of guiness toasting us. I will sent Anne to you now. Take care see you in in Denmark in June and in Dublin in July greetings to all of you. love Susanne and Ben [Suzanne Thea]

    She is still here. And she would definitely have liked the gathering Saturday. Mette x [Mette Mork Andersen]

    Very moving and wonderful writing! Anne sounds like she was such an inspiring person. My thoughts are with you today. [Sallianne Andersen]

    Michael: I came across your blog post only about 6 months and found it moving. I hope you’re well. [Eoin O’Mahony]

    Oh dear; having withdrawn from most of the Internet for quite a time, this never reached before only just now. I am glad you’ve had support and wish you the best. Cancer is terrible. [Panagiotes Koutelidakes]

    It’s beautiful Michael and so good that you are celebrating an obviously amazing life, and your life together, best, Daf [Daf Wynne]

    Anne would have appreciated knowing that you all thought so well of her, so thanks again for sharing your condolences.

  27. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman. She sounds like she had a very strong character to be able to handle the situation so well.

    They say time heals all wounds but having lost loved ones myself I disagree. I think the more time passes the more we are able to avoid dwelling on their memories. It’s not that we wish to forget them, we never will, it just allows us to live in the now, fondly recalling our memories of them when we choose.

    As I recall the memories of lost ones, the pain is still just as sharp, I am just more able to bring my mind back to the present now. Time doesn’t heal the wound, it just brings more control. I think this is a good indication of how strong our love was for them. To me it is comforting to know the pain is just as strong today as it was when they passed. It shows us that time will never diminish that love.

  28. Wow, Michael, very touching. Because of your tacit writing skills, I feel as if I knew Anne. As a recent American visitor to your site, albeit a lifelong non-theist, I have found your writings and your philosophy on atheism quite compelling, well-versed and more than reasonably sound.

    I particularly identified with your story of your beautiful wife because, I too lost my wife and one of my children to cancer. As a COO with a well-known multi-national manufacturing company, my job took me all over the world. We had plants or facilities in 17 countries. My wife was an independent thinker and traveler as well, and didn’t want or need me hovering over her. She died suddenly in 2000 when I was, ironically, in Dublin at a conference. My thoughts and reminisces were pretty much on the same plane as yours, as I cherished our short time together.

    So, bravo for putting this piece out there. You’ve made me an avid reader and follower with your humanity and spirit.

  29. Hi Michael,
    That is a beautiful tribute. I always enjoyed the stories Mum told me about Anne and wish i knew her better. To me she was the type of person i wanted to grow up to be like.
    lots of love

  30. I have lost three members of my family to illness & am stunned & so heartened by your tribute to Anne. It is so hard when someone has died that there is so little time or space to acknowledge their presence, our loss, the impact they had on so much to do with my life.
    Thank you, for your lovely words. They help me to remember my people & not feel that I should be ‘over it’ or ‘getting on with it’.

  31. Michael,
    Stunningly beautiful prose.
    Moved me more than anything I have read before. It made me appreciate all that I have.

  32. I’m so sorry for your loss. I did not know Anne, but your recollection of her life is very moving.

  33. Hi, Michael. Heard you on Sarah Carey’s prog today. Sorry to hear of your sadness. Read up on yourself and Ann… she sounded a great person. Ye were lucky to meet. I was so lucky to meet Michael and lost him five years ago. He was unique. Bereavement is not easy. Wishing you and yours all the best. Bernadette.

  34. A beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful partner in life and soul mate.

  35. Thank you to the following friends who commented today on Facebook:

    Mellie Mel – That was just beautiful Michael. Thank you for sharing your love story.

    Cesar Cardona – That was amazing, Michael. Sorry for your lost, but you celebrate her life so well.

    Souly Lilibeth – What a wonderful tribute to your amazing wife Michael.

    Zenon Kalafaticz – Thanks Michael for your beautiful ,moving story,by the way, halo from polish atheist,I wanted to meet you in Warsaw when you came for OSCE last year,but I could not come,unfortunately.

    Abigail Rooney – Beautifully written Michael

    Peter Sweetman – I also found her to be a bit special, and full of guts, I greatly admired her for taking those cases.

    Peter Mooney – Michael this is an amazing testament to the joy of life in the teeth of adversity. I got to know Anne when she worked in the National Museum and she was all the things you describe.


Bernard Hurley – Thanks for posting this inspiring story. As atheists we cannot escape the pains of life, but we can experience the joys of life to the full because we know this is the only life we have.

    Pauline Mclynn – Fabulous piece x


Daf Wynne – Thinking of you today Michael, what a super piece in her memory. beautiful .

    Suzette Maguire – Thinking about you both today, Michael, and sending our love. xx

  36. I’m sorry to say I have some idea of how you feel. I was married for over 10 years, but it was almost 10 years ago that I lost my wife to cancer. Thank you, Michael, for sharing your experiences, and thank you for all you do for the atheist and skeptic community. I hope we can meet in person some day.

  37. Michael – what a beautiful tribute. Thank you for telling us about Anne and how much she meant to you.

  38. Your love for your wife inspires me to be a better husband and father every day. I have not and more than likely will not, ever meet you

  39. Such a sad and beautiful story, you have left me wordless. I think that we are like water and as such we come and we go, and we flow around the rocks and dams that life throws at us. Thank you for this.

  40. Very moving tribute. Retracing your lives together along the broader timeline of Irish history was, itself, a wonderful reflection of the active citizenship, so vital to this republic, to which you have both contributed.

    I don’t know either of you, but your love for one another is obvious from your memories of your time together, and that wonderful image of you both, embracing, glass of champagne in hand. I am reminded of the lines ” The greatest thing/ You’ll ever learn/ Is just to love/ And be loved in return”.

    What a marvelous tribute; RIP Anne.

  41. It was late at night – somewhere at the back of the old ‘Norseman’ in Temple Bar – the old bar, a real bar. And with Anne, it would have been after a campaign or book launch or whatever – the memory is shot. I ordered an expensive brandy as an ‘end of night’ tipple but then decided that I’d get a port to mix with it. Returning to the table, glass in hand’ she exclaimed in horror – ‘ You’re not going to ruin a good brandy with that *%%*%!’she exclaimed indignantly. She jumped up, grabbed the glass and returned with an expensive special reserve. I chuckled, she laughed. And we toasted!

    What a beautifully written heartfelt piece Michael.

  42. This is certainly a terribly sad story and my heart goes out to the husband and his time of sorrow…..I do hope that your dear wife turned to the Savior before it was to late…..and I mean that deeply and sincerely……I hope and pray that you are comforted in these times of sadness.

  43. Bob Loblah,

    “Meanwhile, this woman has received her Just Reward.”

    Your display of hatred and disrespect for this man’s loss (no matter his religious stance) is insulting to your fellow religious believers. I don’t think many Christians, aside from those residing in Westboro, would condone your behavior.

    In fact, that kind of disrespect and hatred would be more at home in an Islamic extremist religion.

    Your own religious leader, Jesus, didn’t preach the kind of hate you feel the need to exhibit here. Perhaps you should spend more time in your Bible and less time on the internet searching for ways to disgrace your religion.

  44. Oh Mike, this was nice. I have had the pleasure and honour of knowing my wife for 38 years, and we have been very happily married for the last 34 of them. My lovely wife is smart and strong—the kind of feminist who wants complete equality, no more and no less, with all that that entails. She has taught me well how to live with an equal, although she is in so many ways my better. Unfortunately, I’m the one doing the dying this time (leukaemia), but people like you and Anne are making sure I will leave her in a better world.

  45. Michael, listened to your radio interview on RTE 1 yesterday morning and was touched by your sincerity and dignity, particularly, in dealing with such a sensitive and personal issue as the loss of your Wife, Anne. Well done!

  46. I lost my wife to lung cancer on August 19, 2015, and have been feeling very lonely and depressed. Your article gave me reasonable support that I much needed. Thank you, sir, very much.
    — Jagdish Agrawal

  47. Hi Michael,

    A good deal of time has passed since this article was written but having stumbled upon it this evening I am deeply touched by this beautiful tribute to your wife and also to the relationship both of you shared. Thank you for sharing this. As a skeptic/non religious person listening to and reading your views gives me hope that I may have found something to become part of as I am, like a lot of people, searching.

  48. Really nice to read your tribute again Michael, less painful now, but still brings tears to my eyes
    Carrie xxxxx

  49. Wow what an inspirational tribute to a beloved wife from a loving Husband, I came through your story as am researching pointers for my own story. Very similar to yours my story is also about lossing my beloved wife to the dreadful Mesothelioma during Covid19 times.

  50. Thank you, it’s kind of you to say so. I’m really sorry to hear about your loss. I found it comforting to write about Anne and I hope you have the same experience writing about your wife.

  51. A beautiful tribute to an exceptional woman from her equally exceptional husband. I grieve for your loss even after all these years. I remember those times you write about; GUBU, Garret Fitzgerald’s constitutional crusade, the ban on contraception, divorce, abortion, and the campaigns against them. I was an atheist by the early 70s, I might as well have painted a large bullseye on my forehead. I have often wondered about those from earlier decades who fought the impossible fight against the lethargy and hypocrisy of that Ireland. I knew someone battled in the trenches to lift this country out of its desperate beginnings but I never knew who. Well, now I do, I can put names and faces to at least two people who tried to bring Ireland into the 21st century and make it the far more tolerant place it is today. Anne was a brave and noble woman who contributed much to all aspects of the development of this country. All that remains for me to do is to offer my thanks and my sympathies to a remarkable couple.

  52. Michael such a moving tribute to Anne. Here we are in 2021 and I’ve only just discovered you and your amazing work advancing the Atheist movement, I watched your interview on the Freedom From Religion Foundation with Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor thats how I got here.
    Greetings from Sydney

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