From Australia to Beara Peninsula, why I returned to my ancestors' home

Growing up in Australia, Sinead Moore’s family always celebrated their Irish ancestry. Recently she moved to West Cork with her wife and set up her new business, writes COLETTE SHERIDAN
From Australia to Beara Peninsula, why I returned to my ancestors' home

Sinead Moore of Present Health photographed at Castletownbere.  Picture: Emma Jervis.

HERBALIST, naturopath and health coach Sinead Moore set up her business during the pandemic, having relocated from Australia to the Beara Peninsula.

Sinead, reared in Australia, lives with her Irish wife, Susan, having found her true niche in Ireland, a country she has been living in, on and off, over the years.

Sinead’s mother, a nurse who died at just 53 from stomach cancer, was from Kerry but spent a lot of time growing up in Cork. She was the catalyst for Sinead’s career in health. Her father came from Meath.

Sinead’s longest Irish stint so far was 11 years in Dublin. She recently returned to Ireland having spent three years in Melbourne.

“What brought me here was mainly my Irish ancestry. We were raised in a very Irish household and we were very much part of the Irish community in Australia. I always felt a strong pull to Ireland which kept me returning here,” she said.

Sinead Moore of Present Health photographed at Castletownbere. Picture: Emma Jervis.
Sinead Moore of Present Health photographed at Castletownbere. Picture: Emma Jervis.

“I actually met my wife in Melbourne where we were introduced by a mutual friend. She is from Castletownbere.”

Sinead worked in corporate PR and communications for 15 years, including working in Dublin for a consultancy that looked after major Irish and international corporations.

While she enjoyed the work, Sinead wanted to do something different.

“I believe in the theory that we don’t necessarily have a job for life any more and that, sometimes, we have a few different careers.

“When I was at school, I wanted to work in health, like my mother. I have worked in nursing homes and hospitals and I even started doing occupational therapy at university, but it wasn’t for me.

“I took a completely different turn when I worked in communications. I think I just didn’t know where I fitted in, in healthcare.”

Sinead is a firm believer in the importance of “being in the driving seat of your own health as much as you can.”

She says that being pro-active about our health is one of her soapbox issues.

“That is the real inspiration for being in the line of work I’ve gone into. I think the pendulum has swung too far in that we now completely outsource our health to third parties to take care of us. It means we’re not taking the full responsibility for our healthcare.”

This, says Sinead, makes us feel disempowered and helpless.

“When we go back a generation or two, or longer, we were instinctively more in touch with our mental and physical health. We talk now about old wives’ remedies and tales.”

But there is wisdom in some of the old ways. However, she added: “we have become so busy and by getting experts to deal with our health, we think it’s one less thing to worry about.”

Sinead Moore of Present Health. Picture: Emma Jervis.
Sinead Moore of Present Health. Picture: Emma Jervis.

A member of the Irish Register of Herbalists, Sinead can make herbal remedies “as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs for people who want to look at more natural methods.”

But doctors wouldn’t generally go along with herbal remedies?

“I’m not sure. I’ve heard of lots of reports of GPs who tell their patients about the different supplements they can try. I’ve even heard of them prescribing acupuncture. It’s probably down to the individual, whether or not they’re open to that.

“I’m providing another option for people who want to try more natural (medicine.) 

"Where I’m coming from is very much preventative healthcare, trying to teach people how to look after themselves and be in really good health so they don’t end up sick. It’s easier to prevent sickness than to cure it.”

Sinead adds that we hear a lot about our primary healthcare system being “over-burdened”.

“If we can help people to get their health on track, the system will stop getting to that point.”

In the last six years, Sinead has been on a health journey and has been amazed at what she has learned, especially in relation to gut health.

“It is said that 95% of our immunity resides in the gut. If that was general knowledge, if people knew that everything they put into their mouth has an impact on the immune system, then we would think differently about food.

“I’m not saying it’s the only thing that impacts health but it’s an amazing place to start and it’s probably my passion, my area of focus. 

"For the majority of clients I treat, gut health is one of the key things we have to address.”

Sinead talks about her own health issues: “Thankfully, I don’t suffer from any chronic or autoimmune issues. I’m a good example of the general person out there who says they bloat all the time, have a bit of anxiety and don’t sleep that well. But people think they have to just live with this, that it’s normal. I’m here to say I don’t believe it’s normal.

“We have normalised these symptoms but there’s a lot we can do to counteract them.”

For good gut health, Sinead says there is no one food that is a silver bullet. Everyone has a different constitution.

“It also has to do with how much disrepair your gut is in. With some people, it’s very minor but others need to completely reset their gut.”

Sinead’s general advice is to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables, whole grains and good quality meat.

“There are some foods out there that need to be removed in order for the gut to heal. The really obvious culprits are refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, alcohol, caffeine and sometimes dairy. But there’s a caveat. it doesn’t mean you can’t ever have these things again. It’s just that sometimes, you need to remove them and then re-introduce them and find your own tolerance level.”

The thinking behind Sinead’s health coaching is that “there are lots of factors that impact our lives because we’re not just a physical body”. She says: “We’ve got a mind and souls. The health coaching is about helping people in all aspects of their lives to see what is not in balance. It’s often physical symptoms that will bring people looking for help. But they may have problems with relationships, managing their lifestyles and schedules.

“What I do is help people look at the whole picture of their health and bring it back into balance.”

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