Tommy Tiernan opens up about his mother’s suicide: ‘She would always be on my mind’



Tommy Tiernan has spoken candidly about his mother’s suicide over a decade ago, and how it has impacted his life.

he comedian revealed for the first time, that his mother Helen, died by suicide in 2010.

Tiernan said he was unsure if his mother ever sought professional help.

“So, my mam basically took her own life in 2010 and what I think happened, definitely not with all suicides, but with some people… I think my mam, she obviously found things incredibly difficult,” he told Ray D’Arcy on RTÉ Radio 1.

“But she also lived at a strange distance from us, even though she was in the same house as us.

“There was a part of her that wasn’t comfortable or couldn’t cope with or didn’t want or wasn’t able for maybe – a better way of saying it – the kind of intimacies of family life.”

The Navan man said since his mother’s death, he is “learning to love her more”.

“But she was a woman at the same time who was hugely part of setting up the first Meath’s Women’s Refuge so herself and her friend would’ve been part of a small collective of women in Navan in the 80s who decided lets set up a refuge for battered wives,” he said.

“There could be children all around the housing estate that we grew up in saying ‘your mam really looked after me’. ‘Anytime my mam was sick, your mam looked after me’ and ‘I loved your mam’ and all that kind of stuff.

“But when it got to her own house she just couldn’t share in the same way. She couldn’t cope.

“When someone who has lived like that dies the way mam did, part of it isn’t a surprise. Sometimes it’s still the same. The relationship goes on.

“I still have a relationship with my mother that’s changed since she died and in a way, over the past number of years, I’m learning to love her more.

“She would always be on my mind in some kind of way. I would always be in dialogue with her. I would always be thinking about the strange, odd life that she had.

“So, it’s a process. Just because someone dies, doesn’t mean the relationship stops. It’s still there, it is still going on.”

The Derry Girls star also revealed that his sister Ann, who will release her first book this March, was in labour at the time of their mother’s death.

“It’s not to say that she wasn’t a great mother,” he said.

“I love her more than I did when she was alive. I’ve more empathy towards her. But there’s still sharks in that particular pool, there’s danger. So, it is a gradual thing. It goes on and on.”

Tiernan also spoke about the return of his Saturday night chat show for a seventh season.

There will also be a live audience in the studio for the first time.

“The show is in many ways so unpredictable that it’s impossible to tell people what to expect. It’s like going to a party and not knowing who’s going to be there,” he said.

“The only thing that I know for sure is that both myself and the guest are up for a conversation but where that conversation might go is anybody’s guess.

“There’s a studio audience there this year so how that extra energy in the room affects the chat will be interesting to see. I sincerely hope that whatever happens on the night will continue to be of interest and entertainment to the Irish public.

“The success of it is and was a huge surprise to me and I think that the show, there is something about it that you can’t define and there is something about it that you can’t nail down.”

The new series of The Tommy Tiernan Show airs tonight at 9.40pm on RTÉ One and RTÉ Player.

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