• Brenda

The Roots Go Deep Story

It was a lovely gathering in the Jes secondary school to celebrate the journey of Jes hockey and the Roots Go Deep book. Thanks to everyone involved, greatly appreciated and hope you enjoy the book! I've included the speech I gave at the launch below, to extend my thanks to everyone there on the day, all who have inputted and enjoying the read.


This is just an insight into how it all happened - this is Roots Go Deep Story!

Warm regards, Brenda



22nd April 2018


Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone for being here today. I’d like to thank the school for the warm welcomes always. To Fr. Daly, Ms Hickey, the Jes committee, the Jes primary, Clodagh, Debbie, Ruth, the Bobs Centre, to all the staff, alumni, Jes hockey, friends, family, and all the students. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Rita Ryan, John Ward and Imelda Brennan, all vital presences of Jes hockey over the years, and to past principals Bernie, Frank and Paddy, always supportive of sport in the Jes. Welcome to Mike Heskin of NUIG and Richie Malone of Jes and NUIG. Welcome to Rachel Smyth and Katie Codyre, both eternal hearty Jes heads. Huge thank you Clodagh, for supporting and organizing this book launch, and thank you to Debbie and the 4th years for all their help today.


I’m delighted to say this book Roots Go Deep is now a reality. It has arrived back home to where it belongs, the Jes school. Between Jes students, staff, coaches and alumni, over 100 of us have written in. Thank you for making this book happen and the energy of the book is rippling. It’s like it began as one dream, and has turned into one million. With 290 messages from the hockey, sports and wellbeing community, it is a book full of authors. I look at it as one big team, as inclusive to those who read as to those who have written in it. It’s about journeys, of individual insight and collective energy. The book is like an adventure out to the Burren or Connemara, on the surface you may think it’s just a field and a few rocks, but just when you’re about to turn around and go in out of the rain to get a cup of tae, you spot a giant oak in the back of the field. And you may wonder, how far do its Roots Go Deep as it’s branches go high… and the discovery unfolds.


This is a book of journeys that invites you to explore your own too. Like a big reflection in a lake. It began on the eve of the Palmer Cup final 2017. It was one of those ‘twas the night before Christmas moments, I decided to collect as many messages as possible to encourage the girls for their match and celebrate the journey. So it twas the night before Palmer J 14 hours later I arrived with a scrapbook into the team meeting, a little bit sleepy but all worth being a night owl for awhile. Messages from far and wide flew in for the girls, from alumni and the hockey community. The girls were all set by themselves, showing a solid togetherness and ladies in white team spirit. The book was just another bow in their string, as they were about to create an almighty symphony alongside the hearty Jes support, they were about to create an amazing Palmer Cup final day. Just like the ones before and the one since, full of spirit, enjoyment and comradery. They had a wonderful match, winning 2-0 but more than the score honouring themselves and each other by giving it their all. Another gem in the journey was the ward cup team who followed suit, playing their own game and bringing home the cup. The scrapbook came into reality, and in reality it was being dreamt up for years. It’s to celebrate all the Jes teams that have come and gone, and that has yet to come, many sitting in this room will create new memories year after year. Proceeds of this book will go towards making this book and towards Jes hockey. Jes hockey is about giving and receiving, one big community, and whether alumni are absent or present, we’re always here in spirit really, and we always have your back.

I'd like to thank all the help in editing with this book. Eadaoin, Carmel, Katie, Meghan, Aoife and my good friend Orla in Dublin, all were gems in the reading process. Huge thank you to Kate Rushe. Kate and I used to sit in Geography in 5g, while pondering volcanoes and laughing for no reason, we were also doodling. Can I highly recommend doodling a vital exercise in day to day life, there should be a class for doodling! But maybe we should have been in art! J Anyways, what we did know was we loved doodling and drawing, what we didn't know maybe is what our doodling was actually creating. We were doodling our future. Kate has become a wonderfully talented architect, and I have continued to doodle, I also tutor music and after 3 years of Physiotherapy studies received a health science diploma. I now teach mindfulness and qi gong movement classes. Together Kate and myself have designed this book, Kate's eagle eye has made all the fine details you see happen. So I'd like to extent a huge thank you to Kate! A dear friend, and we have made our doodling dreams a present day reality. The world is your oyster to team up to create things, what will you create with your buddy beside you in years to come :)

This book is about the weave of life. For me, is very healing and humbling to be standing here right now. I’m going to share with you some of my journey and the Jes has really been a core part of it. I began in 2004 and enjoyed hockey from day one. Myself and Katie here lining out together alongside all of our friends. Hockey was the life and soul of our school day to day. Like any passion any of us can have about anything, we poured our hearts into it. The likes of Deirdre Joyce, Aisling McKeon, Rachel and Aoife Smyth, and many many more senior players, they showed us what the ladies in white was all about, we played hockey for the love of it. The most important thing was our attitude and unity. From this foundation we became a successful team in tournments. We overcame doubt, it was a true underdog story as we won the All-Irelands in 2009. No one knew we could do it but ourselves, and the west was awake. Overall no matter what we won or lost, it was our passion and togetherness at the heart of it all. It thought us about life as a whole and values from Jes hockey days I carried with me playing hockey in Dublin for UCD and Ireland. It’s the grassroots where we grow, I enjoyed many years playing with Greenfields hockey club. Connacht hockey continues to move forward with clubs like Greenfields, Galway and NUIG. It’s one big community that is constantly growing and evolving.

Personally, Jes hockey was pivotal in the recovery of my own health. The tribal spirit, kindness, warmth and sense of safety and belonging, I'll always be grateful for.


We live in a world of Seasons. An energy that doesn't stop, is constantly moving slow, fast, loud and quiet. The rain, little bit of sunshine, the Irish sunshine, and more rain. I've discovered too that we have inner seasons. I didn't understand initially the Winter when it happened on the inside.


In 2014, I came back to Galway after 7 years of playing international hockey from underage to senior level and 3 years with UCD hockey. I enjoyed great experiences and success with friends, in Ireland and at European tournaments. Life turned quickly, I was forced to exit life in Dublin suddenly due to a mental health issue. I had to face complete mental and physical burnout. One month I was lining out with Ireland against Australia, USA, South Africa, and the next month I was unable to leave the house, only able for 50metre walks before experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, and severe pain throughout my nervous system. I was very fortunate to have amazing support of family and friends. I had to remove myself from studies and hockey, I had to find away to recover my mental and physical health. Thanks to the strength of my mother and my family I was guided to see Terry Lynch, a doctor in Limerick who has created a holistic approach for the recovery of mental health, eventually medication free process. I found support in flower essences from Brian Munday and calming bio-energy from Sinéad Murphy. Everyone experiences tough times in life. Building self-awareness and togetherness is vital in today’s world. This can break through feelings of isolation and overwhelm. The reality is everyone is free but no one is alone.


For me, what appeared like I was losing everything, was actually the grounds for a new beginning. I was like a tree that lost all its leaves, without realising that in Winter the growth is deeper and under ground, and the leaves that were let go of will return again anew. I began to understand the energy of achievement. All I wanted to do was just get out and play hockey but the true reality was that the biggest achievement, and on the same level as lining out for Ireland in any tournament or sitting any exam, was to be able to go down the road for a walk. My family walked beside me many times and my auntie Alice too, which I am always grateful for the patience as often I'd get to the corner of the park and turn back. One friend who was always there for me makes the quote real and true. The quote our coach instilled in us from a young age and has stayed firmly by our side in every match, that is 'performance is temporary, friendship is everlasting'. I shared all my happiest memories with Katie. We went our own ways through college but hockey brought us back together. We lined out together in the all black of Connacht and now NUIG. And Katie walked by my side when I thought I'd have to go alone. When I thought no one would understand. When I thought I had to hide away before I could reach out to friends again. Katie you were always there for me, no matter what, always kind, accepting and trustworthy, a true friend. Even though I couldn't express my gratitude to you back then, I can now. I'll always be grateful for our friendship. Always remember what a strong person you are and you inspire others just by being present and by being yourself. For us to line out together anytime feels special. It affirms wherever we are in the world and whoever we play with, that once apart of the ladies white clan, always apart of the ladies in white clan J

Our coaches in life have such an influential reflection. They can help us bring out our strengths and work to evolve our perception of what we think is weak. What we think is weak is fundamentally the grounds for opportunity. The opportunity to overcome, grow and ignite self-belief. I've had many coaches which I've learnt loads from. Imelda Brennan and Rita Ryan were the stronghold of the Jes seniors for years, along with John Ward and Elaine Coffey, we have so much to be grateful for as they laid down foundations for present day Jes. Clodagh Mitchell has been the solid presence of Jes hockey and we always loved her coaching and enthusiasm when we played for the juniors. We became a choir of singers and hockey songwriters as well as hockey players.. Ruth O'Brien, Caroline Codyre, Debbie Heery are like the second moms of Jes hockey! All this effort and from many more Jes coaches and managers over the years is what holds everything together and makes everything happen. Whatever energy is more than gratitude you deserve that. You make Jes hockey exist and for that the ladies in white is alive and well.


Richie Malone has been my coach since I was a little squirrel of a hockey player at 12 years old. He helped me develop my skills and become an all round hockey player. I was well able to stand up for myself on the hockey pitches in Dublin and abroad thanks to Richie's coaching. I learnt to read the game, knowing that having composure and determination inside is a vital balance. Like a magician he thought me the balance of fire and water. When I was going through the anxiety and burnout, Richie was always there encouraging me that it would all be ok. He said one day you're going to be okay, Bren everything is going to be okay. And as if the blare of 50 radios in my head had suddenly turned off and I was standing beside a lake, through the fog of overwhelm I actually heard those words and believed it. Richie helped me transcend the belief that I wouldn’t get back to hockey, that it was all over, and that physically and mentally I wasn’t able. But beneath all that somewhere I had a dream I would and he helped me trust that. I had to dig deep and find the faith that my nervous system would fully recover. I walked to Seapoint from my home about 300metres away for the first time after 7months of attempted walks. I jogged for the first time alongside my sister Kate, who is here today and who is a constant inspiration in my life.


Two years later I picked up a hockey stick. After the first hockey session with the Jes, Carmel, she asked me was I going to come back. A simple yet beyond important question because for the first time in a long time, I heard a part of myself give myself a chance to trust myself, to make a comeback. Thank you Carmel, growing up having older sisters around and 10 more sisters around beach court where we grew up, I always wondered what it would be like to have a younger sister, now I do. And as it turns out hockey is really like a big family, a sisterhood can be built as well as a team.


I’ve met wonderful people in the process on this journey and on looking back, it’s gratitude I feel at the core of it all. What initially looked like I lost everything I have actually gained a new life. What was a nightmare in a winter storm began to transform into warm glowing lights. I was out in the winter wilderness at times for sure, but it made the warm fires and friendships all the more real. It made life life. I began to understand the true message and energy of the Winter. Going inward, finding strength, light, insight and freedom on the inside requires courage but it is ultimately deeply rewarding. There are stars within the darkness, crystals in each snowflake and there is always space and hope to plant new seeds and understand the seasons. In the midst of the coldest winter I found the seeds of warmest summers.

I'm so happy my Mum, Gran and sister Kate are here today, Dad is volunteering at the moment and Grainne is expecting her first baby, so she's resting up in the midlands. I know Grainne and Dad are here in spirit today, I've grown up to get to know my family better and now it's the friendship that connect us as well the family bonds. Grainne always thought me about the importance of the garden and wellbeing. Dad thought me so much about sport and helped me grow in my skills. Mum and Dad have been a solid presence of kindness and support in my life.

My Grandmother Mona is one of the most resilient people I know. It's like she is growing young again at 96 and has so much wisdom, cleverness and comedy to share. Whether it’s 72 years of saying the rosary every day mostly alongside Granddad Holland, or whether it’s walking or slightly trotting a mile a day, or tutoring the entire bridge club, you’re a true an inspiration for every generation in this society.


My sister Kate has always been a source of strength and inspiration in my life. She has come through what looked like impossible storms in the past, but she made her path possible. Her work in the field of wellbeing, mental health and compassion is what today's busy world needs. Her courage and faith are a core reason why I'm standing here today, I have learned so much from her and she has thought me how to connect with my own courage and encouraged me always stay true to my own path. She is a light bearer of her own path and helps others to light up their own, a quiet yet a million fires worth of a profound leader.


Likewise my mum Dorinda has been a constant source of courage, hope and safety in my life. Thanks to her strength and my Dad’s strength I can stand here today and know I've overcome severe bends in the road. Thanks to D I always had someone to take my hand when I needed it most, and to let go when I knew I could fly again. D you saved my life. They say angels exist but they aren't just some far away beings that are out of reach, they are the people right there beside us in our lives. They are people who share kindness, compassion and acceptance. They are our family, our friends and our community.


Your mind is the most important thing in your life. We live our life through the window of our minds. As the saying goes, our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. Who you are and who are to be is within your hands and within your control. Inspiration is an energy within all of us, in equal measure to all of us and makes us come alive. Your mind is your inspirations home. Use your head alongside your heart and this life opens to you as you open up to life. What are your dreams? Can they reach out to a million more? What are your talents, your hidden talents, what is your voice and your passions? There is no pressure only potential. All you need to do is live and we wake up to life day by day, step by step.


When we experience darkness or an unknown Winter or feel overwhelmed, I believe Images of the future can call us forward, take our hands, bring us into the light. Like a ray of sunshine, it is real warmth and love. That's the trust I feel with the Jes. The community spirit and being able to co-create moments all together. This is what this book is, a co-creation. Equal to those who write to those who read, it's all energy. One big star. This is now our book, a book of, for and with the people. A book that I hope will always reflect the energy of our togetherness no matter where we are in the world. The Jes can always have a place in our hearts. Belonging isn't something that limited, it's an infinite feeling that resides deep with in us and can be shared always.


Images of the future or dreams can become reality. For me having tea with mum, talking about the flowers with gran, swimming in the sea with Kate, in the garden with Grainne, walking with dad in the woods, playing the piano, seaside walks, playing hockey with friends… these are all images that held my hand everyday when I needed them most and are the core of my day to day life now. And here today, a gathering with the community, friends and family, this is definitely a dream that has brought be through tough times, that a glimpse of this would have calmed me, a knowing that all will be well, because all is well now. Thank you for being apart of this. Making a dream come through and true, and by being here and embracing the Jes weave. How we were, and how we will forever will be connected in the weave of the maroon and white.


Always were, always will be, we are Jes.






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© Roots G0 Deep Book. 2018.