Cork charity founder: I met my soul-mate by pure chance...

Mental health charity founder Noreen Murphy talks to CHRIS DUNNE about finding love again after becoming a widow at a young age following her husband’s suicide
Cork charity founder: I met my soul-mate by pure chance...

Noreen Murphy and Mick Kearns of Lisheens House Suicide Prevention Charity.

NOREEN Murphy who set up Lisheens House Suicide Prevention Charity in the wake of her husband’s suicide, found love again with Mick Kearns.

“We are a good team!” says Noreen, who also works with children with special needs in Dunmanway.

How did Noreen find love the second time around?

“A friend of mine, Anne Sullivan, had returned to live in Bantry from the UK,” recalls Noreen.

“We met at the supermarket and started chatting and we spoke about starting to go out. One evening we were travelling back from Cork and we decided to stop in Dunmanway and we went into a bar/restaurant for food and a drink and that’s where I met Mick.”

How did Mick chat her up?

“We were standing at the counter waiting for a table and Mick said hello to me and he said I was a good-looking woman!”

Mick was not slow in coming forward.

“No, he wasn’t!” laughs Noreen.

“He asked if I was single and I said I was. Then he asked me for my phone number and then he asked me out for dinner the following week.”

Did she say yes?

“I didn’t say yes immediately as I felt like I was betraying Donal,” says Noreen, referring to her late husband, who died by suicide. It was a tragedy that spurred her on to set up Lisheens House Suicide Prevention Charity.

She had witnessed first-hand the lack of affordable and accessible services, not just for her husband during his battle with depression, but also for his family during this time and after his death.

Recalling her encounter with Mick, she said: “I had to reach a point to accept that Donal was not in this world any longer and that I had to move on with my life. I say to my children that really bad things happen in life but we can’t allow them to define us. We are entitled to be happy and to enjoy the things that make us happy. Staying in a dark place is not what life is all about.

Noreen Murphy and Mick Kearns.
Noreen Murphy and Mick Kearns.

“When you meet someone and you say that you are a widow it is strange, especially at a young age. But when you have to say that your husband died by suicide, I felt you could be judged as many people still struggle with the concept of suicide.”

Mick was very understanding, Noreen said.

“And not at all judgemental. He had lost close relatives to suicide so I suppose we had a bond. We spoke a lot on the phone while we were seeing each other.”

Was Mick single too?

“Mick was divorced with two girls of his own. Our romance blossomed and I can safely say he is my soul-mate.”

Where did Mick take Noreen on their first date?

“We went to The Snug in Bantry,” says Noreen.

“It has become a favourite spot of ours ever since.”

Had she butterflies dating again?

“I hadn’t dated in a long time, so there was a bit of tension,” recalls Noreen.

“I was widowed and telling the circumstances of Donal’s death was difficult, but I got it out of the way.”

Noreen and Mick got to know each other better.

“I work in Dunmanway school every day,” says Noreen.

“I had passed Mick’s house for years every day and I never met him!”

He was on her doorstep.

“Yes, he was!” says Noreen.

Mick also missed an opportunity to see Noreen before.

“I was on the Late Late Show in 2008,” says Noreen.

“Dustin the Turkey was on before me and Mick changed channels. So he missed seeing me on the Late Late!”

Noreen and Mick’s love blossomed.

“Our love grew and grew,” says Noreen.

“We met up every single weekend. Mick was self-employed and he lost his business in the downturn and he was working in different roles that didn’t suit him, so we decided to put all our efforts into developing a business model to support our free counselling, education and training services.

“We now have two charity shops and sell second-hand and new furniture, bric-a-brac, basically anything that is resalable. Mick is a great business man. We have a mutual interest and we work well together.”

Finding love the second time around is a bonus.

“You must live your life and move on, even when tragedy happens,” says Noreen.

“I was widowed relatively young. I met Mick when I was 43. He is three years younger than me. Everyone is entitled to move on and not stay in mourning forever.

“Back in the day, older generations didn’t re-marry or move on after suffering loss. You felt you couldn’t or weren’t allowed. There was no chance.”

Noreen met Mick through a chance encounter - “by complete and utter chance!” says Noreen.

“It just happened. I had no plan for the future but I seized the opportunity and I went with it. I felt entitled to be happy.

“When you lose someone, you learn to live with it. Our experiences left a mark on our family; you must try and move on.

“Everyone is human and we all need human connections. Loneliness is a terrible place to be. I don’t want to be at home in the house sitting on my own.”

Noreen and Mick get on like a house on fire.

“We get on really well. Mick has a great sense of humour. He is intelligent, empathetic and he helps people,” says Noreen.

“He is a giver, not a taker. And we work well together.”

What do they like doing together?

“We like going out for meals. Dining out is our main thing. We might go to a movie or go out for a walk. Our work in Lisheens House is very important to both of us.”

Will they tie the knot?

“I don’t think I would get married again,” says Noreen.

“We both have families of our own and our own places. We both found happiness the second time around and we enjoy each other’s company. The companionship is great.”

Life is good for Noreen and Mick.

“We recently purchased a building at North Street, Skibbereen, which will be the first dedicated Child and Adolescent Centre in West Cork,” says Noreen.

The couple are going to work.

“The building needs refurbishment so there is lots for us to do before we open the door. This is a massive achievement and it’s thanks to the hard work all our team has put in, and to the generosity of the people of West Cork and county for donating to our shops and for buying from our shops.”

Noreen never forgot her first love.

“Lisheens House was named after our family home as I wanted a positive legacy for Donal and I wanted others to be able to access the help when they needed it, and locally. I felt it was my responsibility to bring about positive change.”

Noreen and Mick help to change people’s lives for the better.

“Lisheens House delivers QPR, which is a suicide prevention training for the lay person, like CPR it saves lives.”


The West Cork Suicide Prevention Centre opens Monday to Saturday.

Helpline: 023-8888888 For more see 

Donations of quality used items can be dropped to premises on Main Street, Skibbereen.

Or call 086-1721269 to arrange collection

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