Cork woman's book reminds children that they’re awesome

Glounthaune woman Geraldine O’Neill tells CHRIS DUNNE about a special book she’s produced in aid of Cork University Hospital Children’s Unit
Cork woman's book reminds children that they’re awesome

7th August 2020....... EE Amy Nolan: Geraldine O'Neill from Fitzpatrick's shop in Glounthane with her children's activity book in aid of the children's unit at CUH.

IT’S not surprising that Geraldine O’Neill, of Glounthaune, created a unique keepsake for children for the year 2020. William Fitzpatrick, Geraldine’s dad, penned poetry and prose too.

“He was a great storyteller and poet,” says Geraldine.

My Creativity Book, created by Geraldine and designed by her daughter Erin O’Neill, is in aid of the Children’s Unit in Cork University Hospital.

“If ever there was a year to do it then this was it,” says Geraldine. “The pandemic threw up challenging times for everybody.”

Like everybody everywhere, Geraldine went through her own challenging times.

“I lost my husband Martin last October. We were married 43 years. After he passed away a close family member suffered mental emotional issues and I stayed in a hotel in Dublin for 13 weeks to support her while she was in hospital there,” says Geraldine.

This will be remembered globally as a challenging year.

“I think everyone felt more vulnerable during Covid-19.”

Geraldine, a former teacher, who took over Fitzpatrick’s in 1976 with her husband Martin and extended the shop, is a people-person with a special affinity for children.

“I’ve always been interested in children and their wellbeing,” she says.

“Reflecting back on my own childhood it was a case of being seen and not heard! I think every child is unique and they should know that the most important person in the world is themselves. A child can be anyone they like.”

Geraldine has a personal message for every child inside her My Creativity Book.

“You are all awesome and what matters is you.”

Children always mattered to Geraldine.

“Children were always special to me and always very welcome in our store,” she says.

“It has been a source of great sadness to us that due to the size of our premises and social distancing requirements, we have not been in a position to allow children to come inside for recent months, and we missed their presence greatly.”

Geraldine, a mother of six, knows that children are at the core of family and community.

“Children are such a precious gift to their families and to their community,” she says.

“This book; My Creativity Book, was created with the intention of acknowledging and honouring children’s contribution in how, by staying at home, they kept everyone safe. I hope children can enjoy the opportunity that the book offers them to connect with their creativity, their genius, their feelings and uniqueness.”

Geraldine O'Neill from Fitzpatrick's shop in Glounthane with her children's activity book in aid of the children's unit at CUH.
Geraldine O'Neill from Fitzpatrick's shop in Glounthane with her children's activity book in aid of the children's unit at CUH.

It is not surprising that Geraldine chose the Children’s Unit CUH as the cause benefiting from the proceeds of the book.

“It does wonderful work for sick children,” she says.

“The doctors and nurses working in the Children’s Unit look after sick children, giving them the best of care and support.”

My Creativity Book is a keepsake for every child featuring the Fitzies Five, The Kindness Tree, games, quizzes, colour, and design.

As well as fun challenges, there are baking tips, treasure hunts, and even a beautiful story from grandad Fitzpatrick.

“Kids love activity and learning, appreciating their creative side,” says Geraldine.

Most of all, the creativity book is an affirmation for every child that they are special and they are awesome.

The book was a family affair.

“There were lots of Zoom sessions from Dubai where Erin lives,” says Geraldine.

“My daughter, Kerri, who manages the shop, was involved in the design too. It was printed by my sister Carmel Waterman, of Carrig Print.”

Geraldine’s dad, William, who started one of the first delis in Cork, was an imaginative storyteller. The 30 Steps is a fairy story that he wrote for his own seven children.

“Dad wrote the story in 1965 and I included it in the book with a modern twist,” says Geraldine.

The story has a powerful message.

“The 30 Steps is all about empowerment,” says Geraldine.

Princess Geraldine, devising an ingenious plan seeking a suitor, finds her knight in shining armour. The young man, one of many candidates for the Princess’s hand, delayed meeting her to fix the last flagstone at the top of the 30 steps at the royal palace.

Grandad William wrote: “A great king is required to have the kindness and wisdom to put his own well-being and that of another before his desire for riches and gold.”

“The story had great appeal for us as children,” says Geraldine.

Geraldine, who went back to college doing a four year relationship course with Dr Tony Humphries, later doing a parenting course, says there is an inner child in all of us.

“I think adults will relate to the creativity book too,” she says.

“It gives us an opportunity to tap into our inner child that comes out in us when we feel vulnerable. The messages in the book are meaningful.”

It is a book that cites each individual’s superpowers — kindness, cleverness, imagination, creativity, friendliness, strength, uniqueness. Skills of giving hugs, singing, speed, and baking are other important assets to appreciate.

“The Creativity is a great gift book,” says Geraldine.

“And we hope to raise €10,000 for the Children’s Unit.

“It is a wonderful keepsake for 2020.”

My Creativity Book by Geraldine O’Neill is €10 from Fitzpatrick’s shop, Glounthaune. All proceeds to the Children’s Unit at Cork University Hospital.

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