Eileen Flynn: ‘I really hope that 2022 will be kinder to people’

Christmas in My House: ‘Billie is getting to know about Santa and she wants his sack full of toys’


It'll be an especially exciting Christmas this year for Senator Eileen Flynn, who welcomed her second child, Lacey, into the world just three months ago – and with eldest daughter Billie just two years old, it'll be a busy one too.

“Since my mother died, since I was 11 years of age, I never liked Christmas. And the first year I had Billie I was, ‘Oh, this is actually a different feeling for Christmas,’” Eileen says.

“I remember getting up at six o’clock in the morning, and bringing Billie down the stairs for Santa,” she says, describing her first Christmas as a mother. “And then, last year, Billie had a little bit more sense around Christmas and it was so lovely and I was so excited for it.


“Last year, I got multi-coloured lights for the tree, because that’s what I remember growing up as a child. I’m really looking forward to [Christmas] with them. Billie is getting to know about Santa and she wants his sack full of toys. When I ask her what she wants for Christmas she says she wants his bag,” Eileen laughs.

"It kind of suited me when I moved to Donegal, for Christmas, because I don't have to go home to the home where my mother and father were for Christmas. And I miss them every single Christmas. Having the kids and the move did me very good. But I still value family very, very much."

Eileen says she loves having her children around the Christmas table, on Christmas day even when they’re very small. And she’s also looking forward to taking her children to visit her own family in Labre Park over the Christmas period.

Eileen’s husband, Liam, is equally family oriented, she explains, and following a prolonged stay in hospital for her father-in-law last Christmas, Eileen is delighted to spend Christmas with her husband’s parents this year.

When it comes to traditions, she says: “Travellers tend to go all out – decorations and stuff, and valuing having a nice dinner, the tree, and the mass on Christmas day.

“I am all for separating church and state, but I go to mass Christmas Eve. I think it’s a nice time of the year to be able to reflect and to be grateful for the things you have.

“A lot of Travellers would do the big clean and that is every inch and corner of the house. People may not think it, but I’m a very traditional Traveller woman. I would tidy the house and put out clean mats and towels and make the house look nice, very Christmassy with warm candles.”

Eileen says she tries to stay away from the phone at Christmas and live in the moment instead. She says every Christmas morning she sees a robin redbreast. “I’m very spiritual and I believe that’s my mother and father. Last year there were two of them. As soon as I went down the stairs with Billie, they first thing I noticed were the robin redbreasts.”

Looking to 2022, Eileen says: “I’m looking forward to seeing my children develop more and reach their milestones. I’m looking forward to going out with my husband more and having date nights with him, going to the cinema. I just hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for us with the pandemic.

"I look forward to keeping things alive in the Oireachtas as a senator in the Seanad. I look forward to speaking up more and not being nervous, because I know for the first times I was very nervous, but being on maternity leave and not speaking for the last few months has brought back my passion of saying that 'actually, I don't agree with that'.

“I’m looking forward to not being pregnant”, she laughs “and going up to Labre [Park] a bit more as well. I really hope that 2022 will be kinder to people.”